How much do you really know about Radon in your Area?
Radon isn’t new to home owners, but how much do you really know about the risks? Radon is a tasteless, odorless, colorless gas, undetectable by human senses, a byproduct of the decay of uranium, this gas seeps through cracks and openings in your home’s foundation and enters your conditioned living space. The American Lung Association states “exposure to radon is estimated to be the second-leading cause of lung cancer, accounting for an estimated 21,000 lung cancer deaths each year.” Only smoking causes more cases of Lung Cancer per year than Radon.
Virginia is categorized by three Zones defining the risk level of radon in your area. Zone 1 (red) is a high risk area, Zone 2 (orange) is a Moderate Risk area, and Zone 3 (yellow) is a low risk area. It is important to keep in mind that just because you live in a Zone 1 area doesn’t mean you have high levels of radon, and living in a Zone 3 area does not mean your home does not have high levels of radon.
How long has radon been an “issue”? While indoor radon levels have been a concern since the 1950’s, it was in 1984 that Radon in homes became a public concern. This occurred when it found that the Watras House tested with radon levels 1,100 times higher than the acceptable level of .02 Working Levels. At the time, Radon was Measured in Working Levels. However, it seems to be more commonly measured in picocuries per litre (pCi/L) today. You can read the full article about the Watras home here.
You may have had your home tested in the past. At the time, your radon levels were below 4 pCi/L and you’re “in the clear”. This may not be the case. Radon levels are influenced by seasonal weather changes and even remodelling your home. It is suggested that if you remodel your basement into a living space, you should retest in that area of your home before the remodel. The idea here is that you don’t go for your checkup once, say “I’m all clear” and never go again. There are changing factors that need to be considered. As radon testing is relatively inexpensive, it is suggested you test every couple of years.
If you have high levels of radon in your home, you can mitigate. This involves installing a depressurization fan that sucks in the toxic gas and filters it up a pipe, past your roofline and disperses it into the air. The goal is to dilute the concentration of radon gases in the soil under your home by releasing them into the open air. Doing so above your roofline, keeps the gases from entering your home and causing harm to you and your family.
It is also important to keep in mind, that just because you are not in a Zone 1 Risk Area, does not mean that your house does not have dangerous levels of radon gas. In fact, a test done on a home in Williamsburg, a Zone 3 (low risk) area, had a result of 14 pCi/L.
Want to know the likely hood that you have Radon in your home? Check out these charts below. You can also click here to see the probability of Radon affecting your health.
The table below shows you the percentage of homes that tested, on average, in each county that tested at the three different action levels.
|County||Results under 2 pCi/L (Zone 3)||Results between 2 and 3.9 pCi/L (Zone 2)||Results 4 pCi/L and above (Zone 1)|
|Amelia (insufficient data)||69 %||21%||11%|
|All Data obtained from http://va-radon.info/VA_counties.html Don’t see your county listed above? Click the link and find out the Radon trends in your area.|
Figure 1 Virginia Department of Health Radon Map