Q1 - What is Radon?
Radon is a radioactive gas. It is odorless, tasteless, and colorless. It is a Noble gas that is inert (non-reactive) and is found throughout the world in varying concentrations. Radon forms naturally from the radioactive decay of uranium in rock, soil, and water. When radon gas is formed, it migrates through the soil to the air above.
This gas enters buildings through existing cracks in concrete floors or walls, open soil in crawl spaces, improperly or poorly sealed floor drains, or pipe entry points in floor slabs. Without significant ventilation and air exchange in crawl spaces and under the floor slab (sub slab ventilation), the gas builds up and enters the living spaces of homes and other structures. Radon is found in varying concentrations throughout the United States including Oregon.
Q2 - Why should I be concerned?
Radon decays and produces radioactive particles that become trapped in the lungs and may damage tissue. Over time, exposure to high levels of the gas increases a person's risk of developing lung cancer (refer to the Surgeon General's press release on radon and lung cancer at www.surgeongeneral.gov/pressreleases). For smokers, this lung cancer risk is even higher. It takes many years of exposure to radon before the onset of lung cancer. The higher the exposure, the greater the risk of induced lung cancer and the sooner it may occur.
Q3 - How does radon compare with other radiation exposure?
Each of us is exposed to a certain amount of radiation each day, most of which comes from natural sources such as radon. Radon accounts for the largest percentage -- more than half -- of radiation exposure that the average person in the United States receives.
Q4 - How common is Radon in Oregon?
EPA literature says that about 1 in 15 houses have elevated radon levels in the United States.
Q5 - How much radon is too much?
Radon is measured in picocuries per liter (pCi/L). The Environmental Protection Agency recommends that homes with radon levels of 4 pCi/L or greater be mitigated. They also suggest that you consider remedy if the levels are between 2 to 4 pCi/L. Recently, the World Health Organization recommended a more conservative remedy level of 2.7 pCi/L.
Radon gas is a natural part of the environment in which we live. The national average for radon concentrations in the outdoor air is .4 pCi/L. Although we can not entirely avoid radon gas, we can take steps to lower levels in our indoor environments. Reducing exposure reduces the risk of developing lung cancer.
If levels are elevated in your home, contact a radon mitigationcCompany to remedy the problem. The Oregon Radon Program recommends that you utilize a company that is certified by the National Radon Safety Board (NRSB) or the National Environmental Health Association (NEHA). Action Radon Services is certified by NEHA and can be reached by calling 503.969.3841.