Radon is a tasteless and odorless gas that is both radioactive and present in many homes. This gas seeps into homes, typically through the basement, from the soil surrounding the structure. While it is present in small degrees in the air everywhere, sometimes it builds up within houses.
This elevated exposure can increase people’s risk for lung cancer, especially if the inhabitants are or were smokers. Certain areas, such as Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Iowa, have been identified as areas where inhabitants must be particularly careful about potential radon exposure within their homes due to the elevated local risk.
Over the past few decades people and scientists have become increasingly aware of the danger of radon exposure and its presence in homes, which has led many homeowners to be interested in learning how to reduce their risk. One of the questions that many people have concerns the weathering of their homes and how this affects radon levels.
House age and weathering and the radon levels
It is important to note that tests have found elevated levels of radon in custom homes that have been just built as well as homes that are well over a century old. Just because a home is new does not mean it will not have a problem, such like an old house is not guaranteed to have a problem. Instead, the risk of radon exposure is far more dependent upon the location of the house and how well the house is kept up.
As previously discussed, certain areas of the country are more likely to have higher amounts of radon in the soil. The higher the concentration of radon in the environment, the more likely the home is to have higher levels as well. Also remember that radon is a gas. This means it typically enters homes through cracks or gaps in the foundation, pipes, or suspended flooring.
Weathering in a home that is not looked after too closely can certainly lead to an increased number of cracks and gaps, which in turn can affect the radon levels within the home.
Preventing radon exposure
Those who are interested in learning more about the radon exposure within their homes should conduct one of the many available tests. There are tests that can be done over a period of several months or just a few hours, but each has their own guidelines to determine accuracy.
To prevent radon exposure, the most important thing a homeowner can do is make sure that the foundation of the home is well cared for. Cracks in the home or pipes should be regularly caulked and repaired to prevent gases from entering. Airing out the bottom floor of the home is another good way to avoid radon gas exposure.
Radon gas is a powerful and dangerous gas, but unfortunately it is undetectable by people without special equipment. Keeping the home healthy, therefore depends upon taking the necessary precautions to limit its access to the home. Weathering of the structure can certainly increase the gaps that can provide radon entrance to the house, so it is important to stay on top of maintenance so the house remains safe for all inhabitants.