We’ve discussed on the blog about the importance of taking steps to ensure your home stays free of harmful gases such as carbon monoxide. Another, similarly harmful gas that can result from poor indoor ventilation is radon. This dangerous gas is a naturally occurring radioactive gas produced by the breakdown of uranium in soil, rock, and water. Because the air pressure inside your home is typically lower than pressure in the soil around your home’s foundation, your home can potentially act like a vacuum, drawing radon in through foundation cracks and other openings.

Radon also may be present in well water and can be released into the air in your home when water is used for showering and other household uses. In most cases, radon entering the home through water is a small risk compared with radon entering your home from the soil. Regardless of the way radon enters your home, it is a very dangerous occurrence for you and your loved ones.

Radon is a cancer-causing gas that is estimated to cause many deaths in the United States each year. In fact, the Surgeon General has warned that radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the country—second only to smoking. This is why it is so important to know the proper ways to mitigate radon in your home.

First and foremost, ensuring proper levels of ventilation in your home is key to avoiding radon problems. Especially in “trouble areas” such as basements or crawlspaces, ventilation allows clean air to circulate in your home. Vapor barriers also protect against harmful gases entering the home through these spaces. A closed home, especially in the winter months, can lead to an increased risk of radon exposure for the home’s inhabitants.

There are certain steps you can take if you feel (or know) that your house is at a high risk level for radon entering the home. Certain types of fans and ventilation systems can be installed to increase the overall ventilation in your home. Remember—clean air is the best defense against harmful indoor gases such as radon. During warmer months, one of the best ways to circulate good air in your home is to open doors and windows on a regular basis to allow outside air in. Proper air exchange is critical to ensuring your home has a high indoor air quality and is at low risk of “stale” air or the presence of dangerous gases.

If your home is tested and found to have radon present, it’s best to not take any risks and contact a qualified contractor immediately. Lowering high levels of radon in the home requires very specific and technical skills and knowledge, which is why it’s best to not try to handle it yourself. Without proper knowledge and equipment, the risk of radon exposure and concentration in the home actually increases.

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