Radon: Odorless, Colorless, and Radioactive

Most people can appreciate the feeling of relaxing in a steamy hot tub letting the jets soothe the body aches and pains. In fact, a hot tub is often just what the doctor orders for certain bodily ailments. Add radon to the water and you have what people in some cultures consider a medical phenomenon that is prescribed as an alternative to conventional pain killers for ailments like arthritis.

Radon is a colorless, odorless radioactive gas that is created from decaying radium. Varying levels of radium are contained in nearly all rocks, soils, groundwater, and plants. As rocks and soil deteriorate, radon gas is released into the atmosphere. In some parts of the world, radon is mined and administered in low dosages to people suffering from certain diseases such as asthma. Since its discovery in the late 19th century, medical professionals have embraced radon as a method of stimulating the body’s self-healing mechanisms.

On the flip side, researchers from various universities and members of the World Health Organization (WHO) studying the effects of radon have determined that the gas is extremely harmful. Their research findings have concluded that next to smoking, radon exposure is the leading cause of lung cancer. Scientific studies have revealed that inhaling any dosage of radon is a potential health risk.

How Radon Enters the Home

Radon emanating from the soil seeps into houses through cracks in home foundations and garage floors. As radon permeates the atmosphere it settles in a home’s cellars, basements, and lower floors because it is denser than air. The possibility of radon getting into homes has prompted officials from the World Health Organization (WHO) to encourage people to regularly test for radon.

Radon testing is not part of a standard home inspection. Therefore, future home owners are encouraged to test for radon in the home before making the decision to buy the property. Radon testing is inexpensive and easy to do using either a home test kit or a professional radon testing service. If you use a home test kit, you simply mail the air samples to the test lab and they will send you the results.

Mitigating Radon

Home owners essentially have two options for mitigating radon gas. The first option is to prevent the gas from entering the home. You can do this by filling gaps around vents and pipes on the foundation walls and sealing cracks in the foundation walls and floor. Sealing off the vent portals is important because clothes dryers typically expel air from the inside. When this occurs, radon gas is actually sucked into the house. Another method is to increase the flow of air into the house by adding vents or using fans to blow external air into the rooms where the gas accumulates. Homes with crawl spaces might require a more complex method of enabling outside air to enter the area. Homeowners are advised to consult with radon specialists about the best mitigation method for their home.

By Salt Lake Digs Contributor, David Jensen

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