Archive for September, 2011
The Risks of Radon for Kalamazoo Homeowners
Radon—a tasteless, odorless, colorless gas emitted by decaying uranium under the ground—poses a significant health hazard to American families. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Surgeon General of the United States, and Kalamazoo County’s Environmental Health Department, radon is responsible for more than 20,000 deaths a year from lung cancer. The damage this radioactive gas does to delicate lung tissues is the leading cause of lung cancer among non-smokers and the second cause of lung cancer among smokers. Although the risks of radon are relatively the same for children and adults, anyone living in a house with a smoker is at substantially higher risk than those living in a non-smoking household.
EPA Radon Map Points to Kalamazoo Homes
Is radon posing a health threat to your Kalamazoo home? The EPA radon map displays three levels of estimated radon threat: Zone 1, Zone 2, and Zone 3. Most of Michigan is shown as vulnerable to indoor radon infiltration, and Kalamazoo County is considered a Zone 1 area. This means that the likelihood is high that your home may test positive for radon of over 4 picocuries per liter (the measure for radioactivity), the level at which the EPA urges homeowners to take immediate action.
Testing for radon is the only sure way to determine whether your residence is at risk. The presence of uranium in the rock and soil under your home is not the only reason radon may be found in your home. The way your house is constructed, how well your residence is maintained, and the depressurization of the building also play a role in how much radon gets into your house. Radon can infiltrate rock and soil, as well as cracks in concrete, floor and wall joists, brickwork, and openings around drains and other plumbing. Because there are so many factors involved, don’t rely on a neighbor’s test results to assess your risk for indoor radon pollution—have your home tested as well.
Test kits for radon detection can be purchased at your local Kalamazoo home improvement center, hardware store, or supermarket. A careful read of the instructions will tell you where to place the kit, what period of time to leave it there, and which laboratory to mail it to once the test is completed. If you prefer hiring a professional, contact your local certified radon mitigation specialist. These trained professionals can perform either short-term or long-term tests to assess your annual average radon level.
Depending on your home’s particular test results, radon mitigation service personnel can consult with you about the different options for radon reduction or removal to make your home a safer place to live. The remedy may turn out to be as simple as sealing a few cracks in your basement floor or venting a dirt floor crawl space. Another method of radon reduction is the installation of pipes leading from under your home to above your roofline to vent radon gas to the outdoors where it becomes diluted and harmless.
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