Archive for October, 2011
Charlotte, North Carolina Homes and the Risk of Radon
Most Charlotte, North Carolina homeowners are aware that radon gases present in the home pose dangers to the health of both children and adults and take steps to mitigate these hazards. For example, carbon monoxide detectors are often installed in a residence to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning. Less well-known is the serious health risk posed by high levels of indoor radon. The U.S. Surgeon General issued a statement in 2009 that over 20,000 Americans die each year of lung cancer directly or indirectly caused by breathing radon-polluted air. As a matter of fact, radon is the number one cause of lung cancer in people who don’t smoke, and the second leading cause in people who do smoke.
What is Radon and How it Can Harm You
Radon is a naturally-occurring gas anywhere radium and uranium are present. This odorless, colorless, tasteless emission results from the decay of radium and uranium, seeping up through the ground to penetrate the air. Dispersed into outdoor air, levels are low and not harmful to human health, but when radon is confined under a house, it can infiltrate indoor air in quantities concentrated enough to cause lung damage. Because radon is undetectable by human senses, the only way to determine your home’s radon level is to perform a radon detection test.
What Can You Do to Prevent Radon From Harming Your and Your Family?
Radon detection can be accomplished by either purchasing a test kit from a hardware, home improvement, or grocery store or by consulting a radon mitigation specialist in your area. DIY test kits are generally priced at under $25 and are usually mailed to radon detection labs that read the results and inform you of your level of radon detection. A radon reduction professional can perform the test for you and inspect your home for potential radon entry points. In either case, the Environmental Protection Agency recommends immediate action if your home tests for levels higher than 4 picocuries per liter (pCi/L), a measurement of radioactivity. Many health experts urge homeowners to seek radon mitigation even when levels are between 2 and 4 pCi/L, since even a low level carries risk for respiratory health.
Due to Charlotte, North Carolina’s specific geology, the risk for radon in any particular home is significant. The eight counties deemed highest in risk for radon are Alleghany, Buncombe, Cherokee, Henderson, Mitchell, Rockingham, Transylvania, and Watauga, but substantial levels of radon have been detected in almost every county in North Carolina. Because indoor radon is not caused merely by the presence of uranium in the underlying geology of an area, you can’t rely on tests performed by your neighbors. Your particular structure may be more or less vulnerable to radon emissions.
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