What is radon? Is testing for it legitimate or is it just a scam? If you’ve ever considered purchasing a home, you might have been informed about issues with radon gases. Conversely, people that are selling a home are often asked to pay for testing out of their own pockets. This testing can be quite expensive. Therefore, a lot of people have started to question whether or not it is actually necessary. Some have even claimed that it’s a scam. Truth be told, a few minutes spent on the internet will probably have you so confused you don’t know which way to turn. Depending on where you look, radon is either very real and could potentially kill you or it’s a complete hoax and there’s nothing to it whatsoever, except for the fact that people use it as a way to make a lot of money. The question is, which story is true?
What is Radon?
Before we get into whether or not testing for radon is a scam, let’s first disseminate what it actually is. Radon is a gas that forms naturally within the environment. Wherever there are radium particles that have disintegrated, radon gas is present. Chances are, you’re exposed to it on a daily basis, and you’re exposed to it more in some locations than in others. The scary part is that it is a gas formed by the disintegration of radioactive elements which occur naturally within the environment, as previously mentioned. Does that mean that you’re being exposed to radiation every time you’re in the presence of radon gas? The answer is yes, you are. The thing is, it usually doesn’t cause a problem unless you’re in an area where the level of radon gas is especially high, specifically above 0.4 parts per million. When you get into areas where the level is above that, you might start to have a problem.
How Does Radon Gas Affect Your Health?
In most cases, it doesn’t. The reason that it doesn’t typically affect your health is because the amount of radon gas in the atmosphere is usually so low that you can be exposed to it without any issues. In fact, it’s usually carried away by the wind. The problem is that when you’re exposed to larger doses, such as when you are directly over a source of radon gas in an enclosed area, there’s nowhere for it to go. When this happens, it becomes part of the air that you breathe. Before you know it, the particles of radon end up inside your lungs. Those particles will eventually dissipate, but the damage may have already been done. In fact, radon is considered one of the leading causes of lung cancer in the United States. This is true for people that have never smoked a cigarette in their life, too. According to The Environmental Protection Agency, out of every 1,000 people who are exposed to 0.4 parts per million, approximately three of them will end up getting lung cancer. That number increases exponentially to 62 people out of 1,000 when the level of radon gas is raised to 4.0 parts per million. However, these numbers are for people who have also smoked cigarettes at some point in their lifetime. For whatever reason, the EPA didn’t conduct a study regarding the number of people that were adversely affected by radon if they had never smoked and were exposed to these same levels.
Why Should Homes be Tested?
Homes should be tested for radon in order to determine whether or not they are sitting above a source that releases more gas into that particular area than normal. If they do, it could be potentially dangerous for you and your family to live there. That doesn’t necessarily mean that the home has to be demolished or that no one can ever live there, but it does mean that something needs to be done about the problem. Testing is usually done by experts. As previously mentioned, it can be rather expensive, but it can also be the difference between having a healthy family or having a lot of unexplained health problems. As it turns out, the type of test that you have done makes a great deal of difference in its level of accuracy. There are long-term kits and short-term kits that are used for testing. As you might have guessed, long-term kits measure the amount of radon gas inside the home over an extended period of time, such as 90 days. These tests are far more accurate because you’re getting a measurement that is taken over time as opposed to taking a single measurement and going with the results. The tests are more expensive when done in this manner, but it very well may be worth it.
At the end of the day, it’s obvious that radon testing is not a scam. It is a very real part of the environment that does exist. In certain areas where the levels of this gas are higher than normal, it has been linked to a number of lung cancer cases. If you have smoked in the past and you’re exposed to it at excessive levels, your chances of getting lung cancer are even worse. However, it’s important to remember that people who have never smoked and have lived a healthy lifestyle throughout their lives have been exposed to radon gas and ended up with lung cancer. It happens frequently enough that medical professionals look for the presence of radon gas when a person presents with lung cancer who has no other known risk factors. This is why it’s so important to get your home tested and it’s why you should have any home you’re considering purchasing tested. That said, the type of testing that you have done inside a home can make all the difference in the world between getting an accurate reading and one that is completely erroneous.