Radon: The Indoor Health Risk


 Continuous reading radon monitor

What Is Radon?

Radon is a radioactive gas that comes from the breakdown of uranium in soil, rock, and water. Invisible and odorless, radon is a health hazard when it accumulates to high levels inside homes or other structures. Radon typically moves up through the ground to the air above and into your home through cracks and other holes in the foundation. Your home can trap radon inside.

Is Radon Really a Problem in the Siouxland Area?

Approximately 3 out of 4 homes in the Siouxland area have high levels of radon. Iowa has the highest incidence of radon per household than any other state. Radon is estimated to cause 20,000 deaths each year. In fact, the Surgeon General has warned that radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer deaths. If you smoke and your home has high radon levels, your risk of lung cancer becomes up to 10 times greater.

My Home Is New. Does It Have Radon?

Any home may have a radon problem. This means new and old homes, well-sealed and drafty homes, and homes with or without basements. Radon can get into any type of building—homes, offices, and schools—and build up to high levels. You and your family are most likely to get your greatest exposure at home where you spend most of your time.

How Can I Tell If My Home Has an Elevated Radon Level?

Testing is the only way to know if you and your family are at risk from radon. Sherlock Home Inspectors use continuous reading monitors to give you reliable results in 48 hours. EPA and the Surgeon General recommend testing all homes below the third floor for radon. If you are buying or selling a home, you can hire a professional radon tester. Make sure that the company you hire is listed in your state’s certification program. State licensing is required in Iowa and Nebraska. Sherlock Home Inspectors is licensed in Iowa and Nebraska to do testing. South Dakota has no requirements.

Is There a Safe Level for Radon?

EPA recommends that you take action to reduce your home’s indoor radon levels if your radon test result is 4 pCi/L or higher. EPA believes that any radon exposure carries some risk; no level of radon is safe. Even radon levels below 4 pCi/L pose some risk, and you can reduce your risk of lung cancer by lowering your radon level.

How Can I Lower My Radon Level?

A variety of methods can be used to reduce radon in homes. Sealing cracks and other openings in the foundation is a basic part of most approaches to radon reduction. EPA does not recommend the use of sealing alone to reduce radon because, by itself, sealing has not been shown to lower radon levels significantly or consistently. In most cases, systems with pipes and fans are used to reduce radon. Such systems are called “sub-slab depressurization,” and do not require major changes to your home. These systems prevent radon gas from entering the home from below the concrete floor and the foundation.

Who Fixes Homes with Elevated Radon Levels?

You should use a radon reduction contractor or mitigator who is licensed in Iowa and/or Nebraska. This program tests the technical knowledge of contractors to ensure that they can correct radon problems. For a list of approved radon reduction contractors in this area, contact Sherlock Home Inspectors, your state radon office, or follow the link under Other Links to Iowa Licensed Radon Mitigators or Nebraska Licensed Radon Mitigators.

Iowa: 800-383-5592 or 515-281-3478 or www.idph.state.ia.us/Radon/Fix.aspx
Nebraska: 800-334-9491 or 402-471-2168
South Dakota: 800-438-3367 or 605-773-3351. No license required.

In addition, the mitigation contractor must recommend that the home be tested again by an independent state certified radon tester after completing radon reduction work to confirm that elevated levels have been reduced. Sherlock Home Inspectors, Inc. is an independent state certified radon tester.  Give us a call today.

Sherlock Home Inspectors Inc.

3911 5th Avenue, Sioux City, IA 51106

Office: 712 274-9617

Email: sherlockhome@cableone.net