What is radon?
While there are no immediate symptoms from exposure to radon, historically, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), "It is estimated to contribute to between 7,000 and 30,000 lung cancer deaths each year. Smokers are at a higher risk of developing radon-induced lung cancer."
A few scientists have questioned whether low radon levels, such as those found in residential sites, increase the risk of lung cancer because some small studies of radon and lung cancer in residences have produced varied results. Some have shown a relationship between radon and lung cancer, some have not.
International scientific communities are in agreement that all of these residential studies have been too small to provide conclusive information and radon health risks. And, international organizations that have examined the health risks of radon agree that it is a lung carcinogen.
At this point there are no U.S. government regulations concerning radon that would hold residential developers and/or homeowners responsible for selling properties with the presence of high levels of radon. However, information about radon has been compelling enough for radon testing to become recommended for all home owners, especially those in the Northeast where geological conditions are particularly conducive for its presence.
Levels of radon can be particularly high in older homes with dirt and natural stone basements. Levels can also be high in newly constructed houses because the process of creating a basement/foundation disturbs the earth and roclk over which a building is constructed.
Who can fix it?
What can be done about radon?
There are a number of conditions, such as homes built on slab foundations or homes with dirt crawl space foundations, covered in the EPA recommendations regarding adequate radon removal systems and system designs. It is also recommended that mitigation systems should be designed and installed as permanent, integral additions to a building. Systems should also be designed to avoid creation of other health, safety or environmental hazards to residents, such as back drafting of natural draft combustion appliances. Guidelines also state that systems should be designed to maximize radon reduction and in consideration of the need to minimize excess energy usage to avoid compromising moisture and temperature controls and other comfort features, and to minimize noise. Most importantly, a radon mitigation system and its components should be designed to comply to laws, ordinances, codes and regulations of relevant jurisdictional authorities, including applicable nechanical, electrical, building, plumbing, energy, and fire prevention codes.