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.