Archive for October, 2011
What Bethlehem, Pennsylvania Homeowners Should Know About the Risks of Radon
The Radon Division of the Pennsylvania Bureau of Radiation Protection urges every homeowner to test his or her residence for radon. This invisible gas—the inevitable product of underground radium and uranium decay—goes undetected without a short-term or long-term test being properly performed. If your Bethlehem home has indoor radon above EPA-recommended levels, you may be at serious risk for lung cancer.
The Danger of Radon in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania
More than 20,000 Americans die each year from radon-related lung cancer. Although the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) does not regard levels below 4 picocuries per liter (the standard measure of radioactivity) serious enough to demand immediate action, levels as low as 2 pCi/L are estimated to lead to lung cancer in 4 out of every 1,000 people. Indoor radon is the primary cause of lung cancer deaths in the United States for people who do not smoke. For smokers, radon is the second cause of lung cancer deaths.
Uranium, which decays into radium which further decays into radon, is present in the rock and soil throughout the United States, though it varies in concentration from region to region. Radon is constantly being emitted into the air, but outdoors it quickly becomes diluted and rendered harmless. Once it is trapped under a structure, however, it rises to dangerous levels and often infiltrates both residential and commercial buildings. The great majority of Pennsylvania counties have a high potential for indoor radon levels of 4 pCi/L or greater.
Finding out whether your Bethlehem, Pennsylvania home is safe from radon is relatively simple. You can either hire a professional radon mitigation service to test your home or take the do-it-yourself route by purchasing a radon detection kit from a local home improvement or hardware store. The DIY kits come with explicit instructions on where to place the test, how long to leave it there, and who to send it to for analysis once the testing period (usually 4 to 7 days) is over. If you choose to hire a professional to test your home, make sure he or she is properly certified. Under Pennsylvania law, anyone besides the homeowner or resident performing a radon detection test must have both a valid certificate from the Department of Environmental Protection and a current DEP picture ID.
Handling Radon in Your Bethlehem, Pennsylvania Home
Once you have received your test results, you will be better able to make the determination of whether or not to proceed to the next step. If your home tests positive for high levels of radon, both the EPA and the Pennsylvania Radon Division strongly encourage you to seek radon mitigation. Depending on the construction of your home, radon mitigation may be a quick fix or require a more complex solution. Often, simply sealing cracks in concrete substructures is required. In other cases, you may need to install a sub-slab depressurization system, a pipe and fan system that removes radon from the basement or crawl space under the house and vents it to the open air above the home. Almost all solutions for radon mitigation are economical considering the positive impact they have on your family’s health.
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