What is Radon?

Radon is a naturally occurring, radioactive tasteless, odorless, colorless radioactive gas. You have to remember that radon is in the air, soil, and water all around us, and while the Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) says no level of Radon is safe, we are exposed to it at various levels daily. So what about the Radon in our home?

Radon in Our Home?

Radon seeps into our homes where it is trapped causing higher concentrations than we would be exposed to outside. This is why it is important to test the radon levels in our homes, particularly on the lower levels. Radon can enter homes through:

  • Cracks in solid floors
  • Construction joints
  • Cracks in walls
  • Gaps in suspended floors
  • Gaps around service pipes
  • Cavities inside walls
  • The water supply
  • The Sump Pump
  • How Radon Affects Us?

Radon is such a major concern because it can cause lung cancer. This risk is particularly high in those who smoke. The higher the concentration and the longer the exposure the greater the risk. Since radon is all around us, how much radon is safe?

 

How Much Radon is Safe?

The EPA has stated that anything under 4 picocuries per liter (pCi/L) is acceptable though it still poses a risk. Ideally, the radon levels in your home are zero, but Michigan, particularly southern Michigan, contain fairly high levels of radon, and the technology that would be needed to decrease radon levels to zero within our homes simply does not exist. Most homes are able to get readings under 2 pCi/L.

How to Test for Radon?

Radon testing is often recommended by real estate agents during the purchase of a home, but you should be testing the radon levels in your home every two years. While inspectors during a home purchase can use high tech radon testing equipment, radon tests can be ordered online or purchased at your local hardware store.

There are two types of radon tests that you can perform yourself. Short-term and long-term tests. Short-term tests will let you know your radon levels over, you guessed it, a short period of time. As radon levels are constantly fluctuating these tests may be misleading. The test will sit in your home from 2-90 days depending on the test. After it has sat in your home, you seal it up, send it out, and get your results back in a few weeks. The long-term tests sit in your home for more than 90 days and is more likely to give you a year-round average, but otherwise works the same.

When testing your home, you should always follow manufacture guidelines about the placement of the test. For short-term tests you should also close all doors and windows in your home and keep them closed as much as feasibly possible. Do not do short term tests during storms or high winds as the increased air movement artificially decreases the radon levels in your home.

Radon Mitigation

The good news here is that while radon levels in Southeast Michigan are high, there are ways to lower the levels inside your home. The most effective method of removing radon from a home is to have a radon mitigation system, or soil suction radon reduction system, installed. These systems essentially suck gasses from the soil around your home and vent it to the outside using a fan. They also do not require significant changes to your existing home or significant costs to implement. You should always hire a qualified professional to install these systems and should retest for radon after the installation.

Radon in Livingston County

Radon levels in Livingston County Michigan are on the high side, in fact one in eight Michigan homes have high radon levels.

Livingston County Radon Map Source - Livingston County Health Department