Radon gas isn’t something you hear a lot about in the news. It’s impossible to see, taste, or smell. Yet, it’s almost everywhere. It seeps up from the ground, and is present in many homes. It’s responsible for 21,000 cancer deaths every year in the U.S. Here’s how to beat the silent killer.

Get Your Home Tested

Simple home test kits can tell you whether there’s a problem. Since radon is a radioactive gas, it can be tested using radiological testing methods. Normally, radon is measured in terms of picocuries per liter of air, or pCi/L.
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Home testing kits are available that will test both long-term and short-term radon levels. You can do the testing yourself or hire a professional to do it for you. The cost for a professional may set you back as much as $300. If you do it yourself, you may spend between $20 and $30.

If radon levels exceed the EPA’s guidelines of 4 pCi/L, you should consider having a mitigation system put in place to bring those levels down. This is especially true if you will be exposed to radon for long periods of time (if you will live in the home for a long time).

Resisting Radon In New Construction

Resisting radon in new construction is accomplished through a multi-step process.

First, a gas permeable layer is placed beneath the slab or flooring system to allow the soil gas to move underneath the house. In most cases, this material is a 4-inch layer of clean gravel.

Plastic sheeting is then placed on top of the gravel under the slab to help prevent the soil gas from entering the home. In homes with crawlspaces, the sheeting is placed over the crawlspace floor.

All openings in the concrete are sealed to reduce entry into the home.

A vent pipe is then run from the gravel, through the home, and up to the roof to vent radon away from living spaces.

Finally, an electrical junction box is installed in the event that an electric fan is needed later to help vent gases outside.

After You’ve Found Radon, Here’s What You Should Do

These types of HVAC products can help you mitigate the dangers of radon by providing air circulation that rids the home of the gas. In most new homes, use of radon-resistant features can keep levels blow the recommended 2 pCi/L level. Some reduction systems can reduce it by up to 99 percent.

You should consider correcting a radon problem before you put it on the market or try to sell it to someone else. This will help improve the resale value of your home and put the buyer at ease about other potential issues that may or may not be on their mind about other maintenance issues.

Average costs for reducing radon once it’s in the home vary depending on the job and the size of the home as well as the nature of the problem. For example, it may cost $1,200 to have a mitigation system put in place, but it could also range from between $500 and $2,500.

Most states also certify or license contractors for radon mitigation and treatment. Even after your home has been treated, you should have it tested periodically (including immediately after the system has been installed and verified working) to make sure that it’s reducing levels.

Marcella R. Thompson works as a home health aide. She enjoys writing about healthier ways to live. Look for her articles on many health and lifestyle sites.