Radon is radioactive gas that naturally occurs in the atmosphere due to the breakdown of uranium. It is a leading cause of lung cancer, so it’s important to contact your state radon office to obtain a test kit or find a professional to test the radon levels for you. While the best thing to do is to install a professional radon reduction system, you can take some preliminary steps by sealing cracks and openings in the building as well as increasing the ventilation.
EditMaking Adjustments Yourself
- Take radon-reduction training courses. Without the right equipment and techniques, you could actually increase the levels of radon in your home! If you decide not to use a certified contractor to reduce radon, it’s essential that you contact your state radon office to find training courses in your area. Enroll in and attend these training classes to learn how to properly reduce radon levels.
- For instance, you’ll learn how to properly test for radon.
- You may also be taught how air pressure affects ventilation and how radon moves through water.
- Seal all cracks and openings in the building. Cracks and openings in the building can allow radon to flow into your home or office. All entry points (like for utilities), cracks, drains, and openings can be filled with urethane foam. Wall and floor joints can be sealed with polyurethane membrane sealants.
- Supplies can be found at your local hardware store.
- Keep the windows open on the lowest level, weather permitting. Ventilation is key for reducing radon levels. Whenever possible, have several windows open on the lowest level of your home or office, which is closest to the soil and source of the radon. Even a small crack allows fresh air to flow in, lowering the concentration of radon in the air. You can opt to open windows on upper levels as well to allow air to flow throughout the entire space.
- Install ceiling fans with positive ion generators. Fans get the air in your home or office circulating, while a positive ion generator charges the particles of radon. The particles are then attracted to the walls, floor, and ceiling, preventing them from being absorbed into your lungs.
- Avoid using exhaust fans, which increase radon levels. Radon comes into your home or office because the air pressure is lower than it is outside, drawing radon in like a vacuum. Exhaust fans further decrease the air pressure, so using them actually increases the concentration of radon in the air. If you must use an exhaust fan, open several windows in the home or office as well.
- Cover exposed earth with polyethylene plastic. If you have exposed earth in your basement, storage area, crawlspace, or another area of your home, you can significantly reduce radon levels by covering the soil. Use high-density polyethylene plastic to completely cover the exposed earth. Seal the seams as well as the edges to the foundation to keep radon from leaking into the air.
- Remove radon from the water using granular activated carbon. Though radon levels in water aren’t usually high enough to significantly impact the levels of radon in the air, you can take steps to reduce the radon in your water, if necessary. The best thing to do is run your water through a granular activated carbon unit to remove the radon. Be sure to replace the unit when necessary and dispose of old units as per the laws in your region.
EditInstalling a Radon Reduction System
- Hire a nationally-certified contractor. Contact your national radon office for a list of certified contractors that can safely make adjustments to your property to reduce radon exposure. Speak with several different contractors and ask them to provide you with a bid. Consider the contractor’s level of experience as well as the price they quote you when deciding which person to hire.
- Depending on the levels of radon and your home’s construction, a reduction system can cost between $800 and $1,500.
- Work together to choose an appropriate strategy. Some techniques work to reduce the amount of radon entering your home, while others focus on removing radon already in the air. Work with your contractor to choose the best techniques for the levels of radon in the space as well as your budget. Ask the contractor to prepare a contract that details the strategy you have chosen, then review and sign it before any work begins.
- If the levels in your home or office are 4 pCi/L (picocuries per liter) or higher, you should take steps to reduce the radon.
- Unfortunately, there are no symptoms of radon exposure until it leads to lung cancer, so rely on the radon test results to determine if you need to take action.
- Walk through the system with the contractor to develop familiarity. After the contractor is finished making adjustments and installations, ask them to walk you through the system. Ask questions if you need clarification and write down any instructions or pertinent information the contractor provides.
- Radon reduction equipment should be clearly labeled and must have a warning device that alerts you of malfunctions.
- Expect increased utility bills. Many strategies to reduce radon can impact your heating and cooling bills due to increased ventilation. Fans and other equipment may also raise your electric bill. Speak to the contractor about how much of an increase you can expect. Keep in mind that removing radon from your home can significantly lower your risk of lung cancer, so the extra cost is worthwhile.
- Maintain the radon reduction system after installation. Periodically check on the equipment to ensure it is operating correctly. Contact your contractor if there are any issues or malfunctions. Also, fans need replaced about every 5 years, and filters, like for a heat recovery ventilator, may need changed as often as every 6 months.