Myth 1: Scientists are not sure that radon really is a problem.
Fact: Although some scientists dispute the precise number of deaths due to radon, all the major health organizations (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the American Lung Association, the American Medical Association, the World Health Organization) agree that Radon is responsible for 15,000 to 22,000 lung cancer deaths per year and represent as much as 15% of all lung cancer cases annually. The risk is much higher for those who smoke.
Myth 2: Radon testing is difficult, time-consuming and expensive.
Fact: Radon testing is actually quite easy. You can hire professionals to come to your home or you can perform the test yourself. You can buy readily available tests virtually any hardware, home improvement, or even big box store. Testing is easy and affordable, with most tests costing less than $25. Either approach takes only a small amount of time and effort.
Long-term tests do require 90 days to complete, but are often as simple as setting up the testing container, continuing on with your life, then mailing the testing equipment to a lab (where they do all the hard work). Simple as that. While both short-term (24 hours) and long-term (at least 90 days) tests do exist, it is commonly found that long-term tests are more accurate and should probably be used to detect Radon gas.
If you’re not sure how to perform a home Radon test, there are numerous online “How To’s” like this to help you:
Myth 3: Homes with radon problems can’t be fixed.
Fact: This is simply not true. Radon problems can be fixed by professionals who know how to lessen the amount of Radon gas in your home (Radon exists in some houses at acceptable levels of 0.4 pCi/L, but should not exceed this). Some contractors use Radon Gas Mitigation, which uses a fan to vent the existing Radon gas outside the house so it won’t be trapped indoors where it causes health problems. Such mitigation systems can be costly (around $1,000 for a day’s work) and do not eliminate Radon Gas. They simply vent it to the outside, assuming that they’re able to properly seal the basement in the first place. Sani-Tred PermaFlex can not only waterproof your basement, but it also mitigates your Radon levels without the need for expensive installation, fans, or questionable waterproofing. Tests have shown that a normal Sani-Tred installation have Radon levels much lower (0.2 pCi/L) than houses left untreated.
Myth 4: Radon affects only certain kinds of homes.
Fact: Radon can be a problem in homes of all types: old, new, drafty, insulated, homes with and without basements. Local geology, construction materials, and how the home was built are among the factors that can affect radon levels in homes. Fact is Radon exists in every state and all over the world and you’re better off testing your home just to be sure. If Radon is within a safe level, then you have peace of mind. If it shows elevated levels, then you need to fix the problem before it begins to effect your health. Don’t get into the mindset that it can’t happen to you. Test your house and know for sure.
Myth 5: Radon is only a problem in certain parts of the country.
Fact: Although Radon is more common in certain parts of the country, high Radon levels have been found in every state. Yes, even yours. Radon problems do vary from area to area, but the only way to know your radon level is to test.
Myth 6: A neighbor’s test result is a good indication of whether you have a problem.
Fact: It’s not. Radon levels can vary greatly from home to home. The amount of Radon leaking in to your home is the result of the conditions and structural composition unique to your home. Your neighbor’s house doesn’t have your basement or your building materials, so your neighbor’s house has no real bearing on whether or not your house has a Radon problem. The only way to know if your home has a radon problem is to test it.
Myth 7: Everyone should test their water for radon.
Fact: While radon gets into some homes through water, it is important to first test the air in the home for radon. If your water comes from a public water supply that uses ground water, call your water supplier. If high radon levels are found and the home has a private well, call the Safe Drinking Water Hotline at (800) 426-4791 for information on testing your water. Radon gas entering the home through the air is much more common and should be the first priority.
Myth 8: It’s difficult to sell homes where radon problems have been discovered.
Fact: No it’s not. More and more Americans are educating themselves about the effects of Radon and are becoming more conscious of the threat it poses. Many homebuyers are paying attention to EPA guidelines and are looking for homes that have been tested for Radon gas. Many prospective homebuyers will either expect a Radon test to have been completed or request one before putting down an offer. It would not be good to lose out on a $60,000 home sale because you didn’t perform a minor repair. It’s best to perform a Radon gas test and fix the issue before a small repair costs you big.
Myth 9: I’ve lived in my home for so long, it doesn’t make sense to take action now.
Fact: That’s actually worse. Radon gas is a known carcinogen responsible for 15,000-22,000 lung cancer deaths per year and makes up as much as 15% of lung cancer cases annually. A smoker exposed to Radon gas over an extended period of time has a 10-20x greater chance of developing lung cancer. But this doesn’t only effect smokers as more than 10% of Radon-related lung cancer cases are NON-smokers.
Many different conditions factor in to determining the risk of Radon-related lung cancer, including age during exposure, DURATION of exposure, concentration of Radon, smoking, and time spent in areas of concentration. Knowing this, the argument that you’ve been in your home for so long so there’s no need to test for Radon is outright foolish. If you do have a Radon problem in your home, it’s best you correct it now before you expose yourself to it any more and furthering your risk for lung cancer.
Myth 10: Short-term tests can’t be used for making a decision about whether to fix your home.
Fact: Short-term tests can be used to decide whether to reduce a home’s high radon levels. However, the closer the short-term testing result is to 4 pCi/L (pico Curies per Liter), the less certainty there is about whether the home’s year-round average is above or below that level. A long-term test is suggested to get a better overall view of the amount of Radon in your home, but a short-term test could be a good indicator of whether a long-term test is needed in the first place.
Keep in mind that radon levels below 4 pCi/L still pose some risk and that radon levels can be reduced to 2 pCi/L or below in most homes. This level can be reduced further with Sani-Tred. Keep these Radon facts and myths in mind when protecting your home.