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Health experts sometimes refer to radon as the silent killer, and for good reason. Radon is a naturally-occurring radioactive gas that is emitted from rocks and soil. Radon can be found anywhere on earth, and radon emissions vary based on local geography. Radon can easily enter a building through cracks and gaps in the foundation, mixing with the interior air you breathe every day.
Impossible to see or smell, radon gas can cause cellular changes in lung tissue that eventually lead to lung cancer. Radon exposure is the leading cause of lung cancer after smoking. It kills about 21,000 people in the U.S. every year.
Radon can be present in any house, regardless of age, size, style or location. That’s why the Environmental Protection Agency recommends that every house be tested for radon. Fortunately, it’s neither expensive nor complicated to have your house tested for radon.
Hardware stores and home centers and even some local health departments have radon test kits designed for DIY use. Another option is to call in a radon mitigation contractor and have the contractor conduct the test.
The results of a radon test will tell you whether or not your home needs a radon abatement system. If radon concentration measures above 4 picocuries per liter of air, Health Canada recommends that the current Canadian guideline for radon is 200 becquerels per cubic meter (200 Bq/m3).
The good news is that even an extremely high radon concentration level can be reduced to acceptable levels using proven abatement techniques. The key is to hire a licensed radon mitigation contractor with a reputation for quality work.
A typical radon mitigation system has only one moving part -- the blades of a specially designed exhaust fan -- so it can function reliably day in and day out to pull radon-rich air from beneath your foundation before it can permeate into your living space. Most radon mitigation systems can be installed in a single day. If you haven't done radon testing in your home, don’t put off this critical health and safety test.
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