Real Estate Trends & Advice

Radon, an Invisible Threat
By Jim Palmer Jr.

     Even though radon has been found in homes all over the United States, our area in Eastern Washington and Idaho’s Kootenai County has documented some of the highest levels of this invisible threat. Our tri-county area is considered Zone 1 which is known as the “red” zone. Radon is second only to smoking as the leading cause of lung cancer related deaths.

    Radon is a radioactive gas that comes from the natural breakdown of uranium in soil, rock and water and gets into the air you breathe. Radon typically moves up through the ground to the inside of your home from your crawl space or basement or concrete slab, as well as through your drinking water.

    Your home can become a trap for this radioactive gas where it can accumulate in such concentrations as to become hazardous to your health. Any home can have a radon problem!

This means new and old homes, well-sealed and drafty homes, and homes with or without basements. In fact, you are most likely to get your greatest radiation exposure at home since that is where you spend most of your time! Levels of radon are usually highest during the winter months when your home is closed up with less opportunity to vent.

    Radon is measured in units called picocuries (pCi), and according to the EPA, if levels of radon in your home exceed 4 pCi it is considered a serious health risk. Homes in the Spokane region routinely test at levels much higher than this minimum. Just because your home has met the building code for a passive radon mitigation system, doesn’t mean that it is working properly or working at all! New regulations will require an active system and an acceptable test in new construction homes.

    There are several ways to test for radon in your home, but the best results come when you hire a professional who uses sophisticated electronic equipment to test that generate an hourly printout. If your home is high in levels of radon gas there are several ways to install vent systems
which can effectively eliminate the gases from your living spaces by capturing the gases before they enter your home and venting it to the outside where it can dissipate.

    Studies show that if 1,000 people who never smoked were exposed to levels of radon at 20 pCi over a lifetime, about 36 of those could get lung cancer, which is 35 times the risk of

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Jim Palmer, Jr.

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