You can’t see it, or smell it, or taste it, but Radon gas could be present at a dangerous level in your Clark County, Washington home. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, Radon is the leading cause of lung cancer among non-smokers. If you live in Washington state, radon is the largest source of radiation for almost everyone. Unfortunately, in Clark County, we have one of the highest rates of radon in the state. And, that’s because of what happened about 15 thousand years ago.
The Missoula Floods refer to the cataclysmic floods that swept through the Columbia River Gorge at the end of the last ice age. In some areas where the glacial Lake Missoula Floods came through, radon can be detected in significant amounts. Environmental Protection Agency maps show certain pockets of Clark County with potential rates of 4 picocuries per liter of air or higher.
The average national indoor level of radon is 1.3 pCi/L. Compare that figure to the average indoor radon levels in Clark County of 3pCi/L as determined by Air Chek, Inc, and you get the seriousness of the problem. Radon can enter a building from the ground underneath it, and the more a person is exposed to it, the higher the risk of cell damage.
Where does Radon come from?
Radon is a colorless and odorless gas. It comes from the decay of radioactive elements, such as uranium, which are found at different levels in soil and rock. Radon gas in the soil and rock can move into the air via ground water and surface water. Radon is present in the air outside and inside. Normally, it’s found at very low levels in outdoor air and drinking water from river and lakes. However, it can be found at higher levels in houses and other buildings, and in well water.
The Dangers of Radon.
Radon breaks down into solid radio active elements called radon progeny. Radon progeny can attach to dust and other particles and can be breathed into the lungs. The process can cause damage to the DNA inside the body’s cells, which creates the potential for lung cancer. The good news, it’s easy to decrease your risk from radon through testing and, if necessary, mitigate the risk in your home. Here are three things that can help reduce the levels of radon in your home.
1. Make it harder for radon to get in. ( Caulking, sealing, vapor barrier)
2. Make it easier for radon to go elsewhere. (RRNC, radon mitigation systems)
3. Increase air exchange to the outside. ( Also, adequate cross-ventilation in crawl space)
The only way to know if you have elevated levels of radon in your home, or potential home, is to test. A professional tester is often hired when radon detection is part of a real estate transaction. As a REALTOR™ and EcoBroker, I understand the importance of living in a healthy and safe environment. However, why wait until you sell your home? January is the month to raise awareness about the dangers of radon gas in homes. If you haven’t had your home tested yet, call a professional today and get peace of mind.