Radon & Radon Testing
A lot of people are asking what is Radon and how is Radon tested. So in this weeks blog, I want to share about the history of Radon, why you should test for Radon and some of the standards by the Florida Department of Health.
Radon is an odorless and tasteless gas. Radon is a Class A carcinogen, and is the second leading cause of lung cancer. Radon comes from the radioactive breakdown of naturally occurring radium found in most Florida soils. As a gas in the soil, it enters buildings through small openings in the foundation. Since the building can hold the radon similarly to smoke trapped under a glass, indoor radon concentrations can increase to many times that of outdoor levels.
Radon is a chemical element with symbol Rn and atomic number 86. It is a radioactive, colorless, odorless, tasteless noble gas, occurring naturally as an indirect decay product of uranium or thorium. Its most stable isotope has a half-life of 3.8 days. Radon is formed as one intermediate step in the normal radioactive decay chains through which thorium and uranium slowly decay into lead. Thorium and uranium are the two most common radioactive elements on earth; they have been around since the earth was formed. As radon itself decays, it produces new radioactive elements called decay products. Unlike the gaseous radon itself, the products are solids and stick to surfaces, such as dust particles in the air. If such contaminated dust is inhaled, these particles can stick to the airways of the lung and increase the risk of developing lung cancer. Unlike all the other intermediate elements in the aforementioned decay chains, radon is gaseous and easily inhaled. Thus, even in this age of nuclear reactors, naturally-occurring radon is responsible for the majority of the public exposure to ionizing radiation. Despite its short lifetime, some radon gas from natural sources can accumulate to far higher than normal concentrations in buildings, especially in low areas such as basements and crawl spaces due to its heavy nature. It can also be found in well and spring waters.
Radon testing can only performed by a Licensed Florida Department of Health, Measurement Technician. At Emerald Inspection Service, we are properly licensed for this service. This type of inspection takes approximately 3 days to monitor radon in the home in a closed environment. The results are sent to a certified licensed lab for radon. A Radon Specialist will read the findings and determine the radon levels. If the findings are above 4 pico curries the home may need to have a radon mitigation system installed. When we test for Radon, we make sure that all the windows and doors are closed, as this may affect the test. Also, if the test results come back over 10 pico curries we always recommend a second short term test. If the test results are under 10 but over 4 pico curries sometimes a long term test is recommended. It’s always best to have your home tested for Radon. Normally this occurs during a real-estate transaction. However, if you have not had your home tested it may be a good idea. For business and schools, they have to test as well. For example, after remodeling a business and every 5 years for schools.
In closing, during the winter months in Florida we get to air the home with our windows and doors being opened. But during the rest of the year we are in A/C mode. Spring and late summer is usually the best time to test. The home is closed for most of the time, because of A/C mode. So for testing in Polk City, Orlando, Tampa or Sarasota scheduling is normally about a week notice. For more information feel free to go to our website or the Florida Department of Health website about Radon. We have a link on our website on the Radon page.