Did you know that, according to the DEP, Pennsylvania has one of the most serious radon problems in the United States? Approximately 40% of Pennsylvania homes have radon levels above the EPA’s action guideline of 4 picocuries per liter. People who live in conditions with elevated radon levels (above 4 pCi/L) for a long time are susceptible to radon poisoning. Radon poisoning is when large amounts of radon enter your body. It can lead to many dangerous health implications, such as lung cancer. Because of the many symptoms of radon sickness and the other problems radon can cause, it is important to install professional radon testing and radon mitigation systems.
What is Radon?
Radon is an inert, colorless, odorless gas undetectable by the human senses. It is a naturally-occurring gas that results from the breakdown of uranium in the soil. The gas moves through the soil and enters homes through cracks in the floor, foundation, hollow block walls, and sump pumps. Typically, the highest concentration level is found on the lowest level of your home because radon can easily move through all gas-permeable materials.
All properties have some level of radon in their home; in fact, small amounts of radon are harmless. According to the EPA, radon levels should be between 2 pCi/L (picocuries per liter) and 4 pCi/L. It’s difficult to lower your radon levels below 2 pCi/L, but that’s where you should aim. When your home exceeds 4 pCi/L, it can be very dangerous. Because radon is undetectable by the human senses, it is important to check your home regularly with certified professionals.
Radon Poisoning and Symptoms
When someone is exposed to high levels of radon over time, it can lead to harmful physical effects. The initial impacts of high levels of radon exposure aren’t as dangerous as other radioactive substances; instead, it is less likely to be detected than other radioactive substances. Radon poisoning is symptomless; however, long-term exposure can lead to symptoms of radon sickness, usually in the form of the development of lung cancer or ionizing radiation. These symptoms include:
- Chest pain
- Coughing up blood
- Weight loss
- Difficulties breathing
- Loss of appetite
- Continuously getting bronchitis or pneumonia
If you have any radon poisoning symptoms, it is best to make an appointment with your doctor. While you can get a radon test in your home or property to see if you have high radon levels, it might take a few days or weeks. Give yourself peace of mind and schedule an appointment with your doctor.
Note: smokers who are exposed to high levels of radon are more likely to get lung cancer compared to non-smokers. You’re more likely to get lung cancer if you experience a combination of both compared to each on its own. According to the CDC, radon exposure is one of the main risk factors that can increase your chances of getting lung cancer. Scientists estimate that 15,000 to 22,000 lung cancer deaths in the United States each year are related to radon, which makes radon the second leading cause of lung cancer.
How to Protect Yourself
The only way to protect yourself from radon exposure is through radon testing and installing a radon mitigation system. You can call an expert, such as Mold Medics, to conduct professional radon testing. For starters, the EPA and the Pennsylvania DEP recommend that you test your home for radon every two years, whether you have a mitigation system or not. They also recommend performing retests after any major home renovation, especially if they involve structural changes or foundation repairs. This could also include finishing your basement or adjusting your HVAC system. To learn more about long-term testing, click here.
Once you’re aware that your radon levels are above 4 pCi/L, it’s time to take steps to better mitigate your home’s radon levels. Mold Medics is licensed and certified by the DEP to install sub-slab depressurization radon mitigation systems in your home. This radon mitigation system uses PVC piping, which runs from the sub-slab radon collection point to the fan mounted on your home’s exterior.
Creating a negative pressure under your home forms a radon collection point continually vented by the system. The radon gas is expelled from your home through the exterior stack that extends past your roofline. You can learn more about the process by looking at our step-by-step infographic or continuing below to our radon FAQs.
There are two ways to test your home and prevent radon poisoning symptoms, which can be done alone or with the help of a professional. Home tests are either short and long-term, providing immediate results or a long-term evaluation of your home over a certain period.
Short Term Tests
If you’re under time constraints, short-term testing kits can give homeowners a measurement in as little as 2-3 days. Make sure to keep windows and doors closed for as long as possible to avoid faulty readings from the outside air. Short-term testing devices include alpha-track and charcoal liquid scintillation detectors, charcoal canisters, electret ion chambers, and continuous monitors.
Long Term Tests
The most accurate results can be digested from a long-term test. Radon levels are rarely ever stagnant, meaning a short-term test can miss peak levels or give you insight into levels that may be higher than normal. Alpha track and chamber detectors are the most common products used for long-term tests. Long-term tests occur over a period of around 90 days and are fairly inexpensive ways to ensure you aren’t risking long-term effects from radon poisoning symptoms.
Educating yourself is the first and best step to ensuring you’re prepared for all things radon may throw your way. You might have plenty of questions regarding radon exposure, poisoning, and the steps you should take to mitigate the symptoms of radon sickness. We’ll attempt to answer some of the most frequently asked questions to give you an understanding of how to best combat your situation.
How Can I Get Exposed to Radon?
Radon can come from many different places, and many of the facilities we work or play in impact the amount of radon we’re exposed to. Almost every building we enter is built directly into the ground, meaning radon can come in through open pipes, doorways, or sections as buildings wear away or due to faulty installations. Radon usually gets trapped in insulated areas, and you’re more likely to experience symptoms of radon sickness if you work in a basement or other enclosed spaces. Additionally, radon is found in lakes, rivers, and streams, so if your home’s water comes from these locations, it’s more likely that radon will be present.
Have I Ever Been Exposed to Radon?
Radon is everywhere, and while many people aren’t experiencing radon poisoning symptoms, you’ve likely been exposed to levels of radon at some point. Small amounts are extremely common, and trace amounts won’t have much of an effect on your well-being. The only worry you should have is if there’s a reason to believe you’ve experienced high radon levels at any point in the past.
When Can I Expect to Notice Symptoms of Radon Sickness?
Radon can be extremely dangerous because the radon poisoning symptoms don’t always appear at first glance. It isn’t like an allergic reaction or some other sickness. Radon poisoning slowly builds up in the body, and the symptoms often fail to appear until individuals are on the verge of developing cancer. Because of this, it’s extremely important to test for radon to stay ahead of any possible symptoms of radon sickness before it’s too late.
Are There Qualified Radon Providers in My Area?
Whether you’re experiencing radon poisoning symptoms or not, it does you no good to contact just any regular company. Qualified radon providers like the ones at Mold Medics can provide trained and educated workers outfitted with information and tools to alert you of any dangerous radon levels. Consider the previous work and clients your provider operated on, and review their qualifications and licenses. Radon isn’t something to play with, so make sure your provider knows the risks of radon and how important it is to keep you and your loved ones safe.
Call Mold Medics Today
Mold Medics is here to help! We protect homeowners by conducting testing and mitigating radon gas. Not only do we follow the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) & DEP standards, but we are also certified by the DEP & have up-to-date DEP-issued photo identification cards. To learn more about radon testing, contact us at 888.828.6653 or email us at [email protected]. You can also get a FREE quote for radon testing and mitigation services in and around Pittsburgh today!