Lindsay Durango, owner of Raleigh Radon when this interview was conducted, tells us what we can do to protect our families
from the dangerous effects of this cancer-causing gas.
Lindsay Durango was the owner of Raleigh Radon, a local radon testing company here in the Triangle. Having conducted more than 30,000 residential radon tests over the past decade, the company specializes in digital radon testing services to help Triangle residents protect their health and their families from this cancer-causing gas.
Lindsay, Raleigh Radon has helped many area home owners learn about the dangers of radon gas and how they can find out what the levels of this gas are in their homes. But there are still many families in our area that are not aware of the hidden dangers that radon poses for them. Let’s start with the very basics.
What is radon gas?
Good beginning question so let’s start there. Radon is a naturally-occurring, radioactive soil gas that comes from decaying uranium deposits in rocks. It travels through fractures and pores underground and enters houses through even the tiniest openings. Houses are slightly pressurized and usually exert a slight vacuum on the soil around and under them, pulling soil gases like radon up through the foundation. Houses with basements are most susceptible to elevated levels of radon because more of the below-grade living space is surrounded by soil. While less common, there can also be high levels in homes with slab or crawlspace foundations in some parts of the Triangle area.
But why haven't I heard very much about it?
Another excellent question. Many people hear about radon for the first time from their Realtor when they are buying or selling a home. Buyers often choose to conduct a radon test at the home they're purchasing to verify whether the home has acceptable levels. If the levels are found to be too high, most sellers will agree to install a radon mitigation system to permanently reduce the radon levels in the home. But as people become increasingly concerned with indoor air quality, awareness and testing for radon and its level have become more widespread in recent years.
Why should I be concerned about radon?
The primary health risk from radon exposure is lung cancer; and the EPA says that exposure to high-levels of radon is the number one cause of lung cancer among non-smokers. Overall, radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer and is responsible for about 21,000 lung cancer deaths every year. While exposure is not completely avoidable because radon is always present outdoors in low concentrations, the goal is to minimize exposure as much as possible. Smokers or former smokers are at a much higher risk of developing lung cancer from radon exposure than people who have never smoked.
What can I do to find out if I have radon in my home and if the level may be harmful to my family?
There are several different testing methods to choose from. One is a digital test that uses a continuous radon monitor that a testing company can place in a house and runs for 48 hours. During this two-day testing period, "closed-house conditions" must be maintained. Entry and exit is allowed and expected, but doors/windows should otherwise be kept closed and no painting or other construction work should take place in the home. During this short-term test, the house is kept as closed as reasonably possible to try to create a worst-case scenario. After the 48-hour testing period, results are available immediately.
You said that this type of test is a worst-case scenario. Is there a different type of test that might give me a better idea of the average radon level in my home?
Yes there certainly is. Another option is to purchase a long-term radon test kit with a canister online for about $30 and place the canister in the home for 3-12 months. Because of the extended duration of this test, it takes into account seasonal and weather fluctuations and may give the most accurate measurement of your home’s actual level of exposure with your type of home an your living conditions. However long-term radon tests aren't usually an option during real estate transactions due to the minimum exposure time of 3 months, but they are the most accurate representation of your health risks.
What do I do if I have a test performed and the results indicate that the radon gas level or reading in my home is too high?
Well there are several companies in the area certified to install radon mitigation systems, which usually be installed in one day. These systems typically pull air out from underneath the foundation and vent it outdoors using a continuously-running fan, rather than allow the radon to flow up through the foundation and into the home. Thus, the fan's vacuum creates a new path of least resistance to encourage radon and other soil gases to flow outdoors instead of indoors. These systems are a permanent installation and should keep the radon levels consistently low as long as the fan continues to operate.
Where can I find out more before I make a decision?
There are many excellent resources available on the Internet, including descriptions of the different types of mitigation systems. The EPA is a main hub for national radon information at www.epa.gov/radon . And health risk estimates are on the EPA's website at https://www.epa.gov/radon/health-risk-radon and are based on a lifetime of exposure. You also may want to know that there are no federal or state mandates for testing in any state, but the EPA recommends that every home, school, and building be tested.
Raleigh Radon is located at 644 S. Lakeside Drive in Raleigh and is about 15 minutes from most of the neighborhoods in southeast Wake County. Visit their website at https://raleighradon.com/ for more information about radon testing and mitigation.