What to Do About Radon in the Air and Water

Crawl space moisture barrier

Radon occurs naturally due to the decay of radium and uranium. It is a radioactive gas that has no color, no odor and no taste; this is what makes it so dangerous. It has extremely high radioactive property and that is why it is considered to be such a health hazard. Part of the problem is that even in the densest objects, it can remain a gas under normal conditions.

Uranium has been on the earth the whole time the earth has been around and even the most common isotope has an extremely long half life, meaning that uranium, radium and therefore, radon will be on the earth millions of years from now, provided that the earth is around that long.

Although uranium and radon sound like they could never affect the regular daily life of citizens, that is not true. There are radon testing companies that are dedicated to radon gas testing using radon mitigation for areas where people live. This radon mitigation is done by using the ventilation by either increasing the air changes each hour in a building or by collecting it in a concrete slab on the ground. They have to use these treatment systems in order to remove the radon. Radon could be in the air or in the water supply.

Residential Radon Testing
The very first thing to do in radon mitigation is to test the indoor air quality as well as the residential water for levels of radon. This will let the contractor know if the levels need to be reduced. Although no level of radon is considered to be acceptable, it’s impossible to completely remove all radiation so there has been various action levels set in order to help professionals to recognize when action needs to be taken and radiation concentrations reduced even if they can’t be eliminated. The levels for water can be slightly higher than air because radon in the air has been proven to be more dangerous than when it is in water. Typically, they won’t even test for radon in the water unless the air test is above the recommended action level. The actual levels differ by state.

Air Level Testing
The air levels of radon will fluctuate on a daily or seasonal basis. A short term test is usually less than 90 days but it might not render a completely accurate result of the radon level’s in actuality. However, they are still done in order to quickly be able to see if the living conditions are unhealthy. Wind and barometric pressure and ventilation like windows and exhaust fans can all affect the results of a short term test. Air testing is done by using passive and active devices that are placed in the building where radon is suspected.

Water Level Testing
Once the air is tested, if the levels are above action level recommendations, then they will also test the water. This is done by taking a water sample and sending it off to a laboratory to be examined. Retesting is sometimes done for air and water levels in order to double check the results before a large amount of money is spent on radon mitigation systems. It is recommended to test for radon in the water and the air alike every ten years.

Health Effects
The reason why radon is considered such a hazard is because of the health effects that have been found. The mala metallorum was a wasting disease that was found in miners. Later they realized that this sickness was due to the radiation levels. The wasting part of the disease was later found to be actual lung cancer. The symptoms of radon exposure is similar to those of cigarette smoke which makes it difficult to differentiate is something is a long time smoker. There have also been connections found between radon and leukemia. Keep in mind that the dangers from cancer come from a very increased level of exposure to radon. If you have been exposed to lower amounts of radon, you may or may not get sick. Increased levels are usually what results in lung cancer. If you think you have been exposed to radon at some point, see your doctor as soon as you can.

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