Radon – RDS Environmental

Radon

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Radon on Deaths on the Rise: Why Are More Non-Smokers Dying From Lung Cancer?  

Lung cancer is currently the leading cause of cancer-related death, outranking breast, colon, and prostate cancers combined. The American Cancer Society estimates that 222,500 new cases of lung cancer will be diagnosed in 2017, and that 155,870 Americans will succumb to the disease. But while lung cancer is typically associated with smoking, many Americans who have never smoked and have barely been exposed to secondhand smoke are still diagnosed. The cause could be radon exposure, which remains an alarming problem in a variety of settings.

 

Radon Exposure and Lung Cancer

Ample empirical evidence indicates a link between radon exposure and lung cancer. Although the radon exposure associated with lung cancer was once believed to be primarily prompted by smoking, many studies suggest that radon in residential, commercial, and industrial settings can place exposed individuals at considerable risk.

It’s common knowledge that mines and other industrial settings prompt excessive exposure to radon, but residential settings may be nearly as bad. A study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology linked higher than desirable radon concentrations with lung cancer diagnosis. Shockingly, sixty percent of participants’ basement radon concentrations exceeded recommendations established by the US Environmental Protection Agency. This was also true in thirty percent of first-floor radon concentrations. Often, people with too much radon in their homes remained in those residences for decades, therefore suffering a more cumulative impact of radon exposure than those who moved from place to place.

Radon exposure has been a major source of concern for years, but recent studies indicate that it may actually be on the rise. Researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and the Geisinger Health System believe that, in many cases, this rise can be attributed to industrial activity, including fracking.

 

Lung Cancer Rates on the Rise in Non-Smokers

According to the United States Centers for Disease Control, smoking rates have declined significantly in the last few decades. A recent CDC study found that found that just over fifteen percent of adults smoked in 2015 — down ten percent since 1997. Unfortunately, despite many Americans quitting smoking or not starting in the first place, lung cancer deaths remain shockingly common. Although smoking cessation has protected many adults, others have fallen victim to lung cancer caused by factors other than tobacco use. A UK study presented at the World Conference on Lung Cancer suggests that lung cancer rates among non-smokers have doubled in recent years. Unfortunately, researchers admit that they have no idea of the true incidence of lung cancer in the undiagnosed population, but they suspect that it could be higher than the current diagnosis rate suggests. If their fears are correct, we could witness a huge upswing in diagnoses in coming years.

 

As long as radon concentrations remain high in residential and commercial settings, adults will consider to suffer unexpected lung cancer diagnosis, and eventually, die from the disease, despite never having smoked. The sooner we make radon level reduction a priority, the sooner we will see the rapid decrease in lung cancer that we’ve already fought for through smoking cessation campaigns.

A Radon System Works Simply, Protecting Your Health—and Home Value  

Radon mitigation redirects radon gas to flow outside the home rather than into it. The radon is released outside to be diluted by outdoor air, so that it is no longer hazardous.

An expertly installed radon mitigation system can remove your home’s radon up to 99%, ensuring the home is down to the lowest levels possible. A fan continuously brings the radon through PVC piping from under the basement, or the home’s foundation. The fan is mounted on an inconspicuous spot outside, in your attic, or in your garage. The chimney, or the shrubs and other landscaping, can help blend the system’s exterior parts with your home. Inside, an installation in your finished basement should also look finished.

The installation price is within the range for typical home repairs. And the cost to keep the system running will be about the same as for keeping a 75-watt light bulb on—around $100 per year.

Why Is Radon an Issue?

Radon gas breaks down into radioactive particles that can harm lung tissue. Eventually, in some people, this can lead to lung cancer.

From studies of cancer in miners, we know more about radon risks than we know about the risks of most cancer-causing substances. Smokers and children may have higher risks.

How Do I Know My Home’s Radon Levels?

Radon is invisible, and varies seasonally. But your home’s average can be measured. Radon Detection Systems (RDS) is a qualified tester. We’re Colorado’s longest-running testing and mitigation contractor—and the first company ever to perform home radon testing.

Testing homes is more important than ever. The well-sealed, modern home conserves energy, yet can concentrate radon inside. A home buyer may ask the seller if the building is radon-resistant. Many of today’s builders incorporate radon-resistant construction techniques in homes.

Be aware, though, that even the best builder-installed radon systems do not always keep radon levels low enough. It all depends on how strongly the radon emanates into the house. So even radon-resistant buildings should be tested.

Radon levels continue to pose serious health risks in nearly 1 out of 15 U.S. homes, including many Colorado homes. Radon can seep through concrete and other semi-porous materials. Test results of 4 pCi/L or more indicate the need for a qualified mitigation company to help you install or upgrade to an active, fan-based system.

Radon and Selling a Home

Buyers and renters increasingly ask about radon levels in the home as a whole. Buyers will also sometimes ask about specific rooms or spaces. They might be planning to finish a basement that the seller might not have had tested, for example. Many buyers want tests done by a party not connected to the seller.

Begin mitigation if needed, so this issue won’t complicate the home sale later. Long-term testing is best, but you can use two short-term, side-by-side tests (4 inches apart) to learn if you need a mitigation system now.

The Environmental Protection Agency publishes a Home Buyer’s and Seller’s Guide to Radon. Our family-owned and operated office is also ready to assist you. Our knowledge of Colorado geology gives our clients the focused testing and mitigation expertise they demand.

Request your free estimate online, or call 303-444-5253 to request testing or an installation quote. Get 10% off installation by mentioning that you visited our website.

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My neighbor’s house has a radon problem. Will my house have one?

Radon–a radioactive gas attributed with causing lung cancer over time–can be an intimidating issue for home owners, especially when looking to buy or sell a house. It is a tasteless, colorless, odorless radioactive gas that forms by the natural decaying process of uranium in soil, rock, or water. Radon exists in all 50 states and can only be confirmed by testing for it. One of the most frequent questions regarding the presence of radon in the home is:

If my neighbor’s house has a high radon reading, will my house have a high radon reading?

The short answer: Not necessarily.

 

The longer answer: Your home (and therefore your home’s radon reading) is completely independent of your neighbor’s house. Though the culprit in elevated radon readings is most often the soil beneath the house–which would likely be similar to your neighbor’s house–the home’s unique structure can impact how the gas is trapped and released. So if your home has a crawl space, for instance, and your neighbor’s house does not have a crawl space, this can impact the radon reading. Additionally, cracks in the foundation or open sump lids can affect the reading.

Solution: Testing your home is the best (and really the only) way to know if you are dealing with high radon levels.

Here are 5 additional things to keep in mind:

suburban neighborhood

  1. If you are nervous about the potential for elevated radon, you can complete your own radon test using a DIY kit found at most hardware or home stores. While a personal test may not suffice for a home inspection in the event you are looking to sell, it may give you a heads up about what the home inspector may be able to discover during the inspection. Or it may put your mind at ease that you have nothing to worry about.
  2. The age of your home doesn’t matter. Even if you are buying or selling a brand new house, elevated levels of radon may be present. Since radon is a gas, it can seep through the tiniest of cracks in finished or unfinished basements. Don’t assume a brand new house is free of radon. Radon is not dependent on the age of the home.
  3. Don’t assume any house is radon resistant. It is possible to buy a house with a “Radon Resistant New Construction (RRNC)” label, but be sure you test (or have your home inspector test) for the presence of radon. The RRNC label requires the installation of specific radon pipes, but it does not require the presence of a mitigation fan. Without this fan, the house is not resistant to high levels of radon. It is always a wise decision to test.
  4. Radon levels vary in major ways from house to house. Again, the only way to know if your house has a radon issue is to have your house tested.
  5. Testing for levels of radon is not hard, but certain procedures are required for accurate results. Hiring a professional is the wisest route for reliable results and for peace of mind. And since radon is a silent threat (causing no warning signs such as headache, fatigue, or nausea), testing is the only answer.

Bottom line: Testing your house for the radon level is the way to truly know if your home is safe or not. And the good news? Even if you learn that the radon level is not what it should be, there are solutions. Take heart. Remediation is possible. Contact a professional, certified radon contractor (or mitigator) and he or he will walk you through the process and help you find the best solution.

 

Key Reason Colorado Has the U.S.’s 7th Highest Radon Readings

While many Americans are aware of the potential risks associated with carbon monoxide poisoning, there is another invisible threat that is a hundred times deadlier than carbon monoxide: radon gas. Colorado residents in particular should be aware of this threat as statewide levels of radon are the seventh highest in the nation. As exposure to radon gas is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the country, Coloradans need to understand the threat, know why Colorado’s levels are so high and take precautionary steps to protect themselves and their families from this silent killer.

What is radon?

colorado flag

Radon gas is a naturally-occurring product that results when uranium decays, and this odorless and colorless gas can seep up into homes and other buildings through cracks in the foundation. Buildings then trap the gas, allowing it to build up to toxic levels. Long-term exposure to radon gas can cause lung cancer; indeed, radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer across the United States, and as many as 20,000 deaths are attributable to radon-caused lung cancer each year. Other studies have indicated that exposure to radon gas may also increase the risk of other cancers including childhood leukemia.

Why is Colorado’s risk so high?

As a natural byproduct of the radioactive decaying process of uranium, radon gas is present wherever uranium naturally occurs in the soil. Different soils have different concentrations of uranium, but the mineral makeup of Colorado’s soil is particularly uranium-dense. According to a spokesperson from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, Colorado is a “highly mineralized state” with ample granite deposits, and the particular geological composition of areas across the state includes large amounts of naturally-occurring uranium. These natural mineral formations provide the perfect breeding ground for radon gas. Indeed, the Environmental Protection Agency has set a safety guideline for radon gas concentration at 4.0 pCi/L, and 95 percent of all counties in Colorado exceed this level.

The occurrence of radon gas is so high in almost every county across the state that nearly half of all Colorado homes are projected to have elevated levels of radon. The risk of these high radon levels holds true for all types of homes across the state, whether new or old and whether well-sealed or well-ventilated. As the Environmental Protection Agency estimates that approximately one in 15 houses across the country has an elevated radon level, it is easy to see that the radon risk that Coloradans face is much higher than that of the average American.

What steps should Colorado residents take to protect themselves and their families from this threat?

Because the risk of radon gas exposure is so high across the state, all Colorado residents should be aware of how to detect the presence of toxic levels of radon. Test kits are widely available across the state, and testing is generally straightforward. Most common short-term radon test kits simply require that all windows and doors remain closed during testing. Alternatively, professional testing is available to help you ensure the most accurate results.

If you find out that your home does contain an elevated level of radon, installing a mitigation system is necessary to prevent the harmful effects of this toxic gas. At RDSEnvironmental, we are

Colorado State Flag with Pikes Peak and Garden of the Gods in the background on a spring day

AARST/NRPP certified for both radon testing and radon mitigation system installation. Learn more about your options for testing and mitigating your home’s radon gas levels by contacting us today.

What are my options when buying a home with Elevated Radon levels gas and infested with mold?

Real Estate Agent Handing Over the House Keys in Front of a Beautiful New Home and For Sale Real Estate Sign.

When buying a house, you need to carry out a thorough check up on its condition. This is to ensure that the house is conducive for living both health-wise and environmentally. In some cases, however, you may find that the house you intend on buying requires a radon system. This may be a challenging thing since most people have no idea what to do in that scenario. For this case, let’s look at what Radon is and how to go about it.

What is Radon?

Radon is an odorless gas that is colorless and thus not detectable by humans. It is a result of uranium breakdown from the soil and when it is released to the air, it can get trapped inside your home. In the United States, it is the second leading causes of lung cancer next to cigarette smoking.

 

What to do if the home you are buying has high Radon?

 

The only way to know if the home you are looking at buying has radon, is to test for it. There are a variety of radon testing devices, but be sure the device that is used has tamper proof capabilities.  If elevated radon levels are confirmed to be present, then a radon system or radon mitigation systemshould be installed to reduce the concentrations of the radioactive gas from the air and on occasion from the water supply. Negotiating with the seller should be done and you should request to have the money escrowed at closing so you can have a radon system installed and hire a professional remediation contractor directly.

There are cases where the seller may opt to have the radon mitigation system installed in the home instead of giving you the money or escrowing the money to mitigate the home. In most cases, the seller gets a system from the lowest bidder and the system is poorly installed and uses inferior materials and thus not so efficient. Therefore, it is recommended that you contract directly with a radon mitigation professional yourself and ensure the system that is installed will be reducing your radon levels and not increasing your radon levels or causing other issues like mold.

What is Mold?

Mold is fungi that grows everywhere and can grow on built areas such as homes and buildings. Mold can destroy the structural integrity of a home. Molds are common both indoors and outdoors but they generally occur in moist areas. Exposure to mold can cause allergic reactions as well as trigger asthma attacks and thus exposure to molds should be avoided.

Just like a house is tested for radon gas, the home should be inspected for mold growth should there be water intrusion concerns or a history of water intrusion.  In the case where a house is infected with mold, negotiating with the seller should be done to ensure the house is properly remediated. You should make sure you hire a  professional mold remediation company that is very efficient as well as trustworthy.

 

Questions to ask before hiring a mold remediation company

  • Can you recommend experts in the case where your company cannot manage to do all the work?

A good company should have employees who are honest. This means that if the company does not have enough resources to carry out the mold remediation project, then they should be in a position to recommend someone else without fear of losing clients to the competitors.

 

  • Do you offer warranties for your services?

A good mold removing company should be able to guarantee their work. Therefore, if a post-remediation inspection is done and mold remains, the company should carry out further cleaning or remediation without asking for additional fees.

  • How long have you been offering this service?

You will need to find a company that has been operational for a while. This will assure you of their experience in offering the service as well as assure you that they will be there when needed.

  • How do they do mold remediation?

The company you plan on hiring should know the procedure of removing mold and follow the IICRC Standards in addition to any state requirements. The company should know that the first step is fixing any water intrusion or leaks prior to any remediation. In addition they should do thorough pre-testing and ensure the work areas are properly contained as to prevent cross-contamination.

There are many things to consider while buying a house. If radon and mold are a concern; be sure to educate yourself by visiting your State Health Department or the EPA’s website. Be sure you know exactly what to do when faced with such a situation.

What exactly is radon? 

Radon gas is a naturally occurring gas which cannot be perceived by humans – you cannot see it, smell it, taste it, etc. So, why is it a problem?

Radon gas is a carcinogen. You might think that “everything causes cancer” – but radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer after smoking, resulting in as many as 20,000 deaths per year, about 2,900 of them people who have never smoked or been exposed to second hand smoke regularly. If you smoke as well, then your risk becomes even higher, and some studies indicate that children are more sensitive. Lung cancer is treatable, but it has a very low survival rate – only 11 and 15 percent of diagnosed patients survive past the five year mark. It is, thus, very important to prevent it.

The danger of radon gas - concept image

Radon is a noble gas that reacts rarely – but it is not a stable isotope. Both common radon isotopes – 222 and 220 – are radioactive and that, rather than any toxin, is the problem. It comes from the natural breakdown of uranium in igneous rock and soil and, as it is water soluble, is sometimes found in wells. In other words, whether you are at risk from radon exposure depends in part on the geology under your home, work place or your child’s school. Radon emits alpha radiation, so this is like standing at the fence next to a nuclear waste site. Because buildings have lower air pressure than the soil around the foundation, radon and other soil gases are pulled into your home and then trapped there.

As radon causes no symptoms, the only way to know if your home or the one you are considering buying has elevated radon levels is to test – and as one in five homes has elevated levels, you should always test before purchasing a home. You can purchase a radon test kit and test yourself, or you can contact an approved contractor who can not only test for radon but help you with mitigation. If selling a home, you should consider doing radon testing and mitigation first, as it will improve your chances of making a sale if you can assure a buyer that radon levels are below dangerous levels. However, as a buyer, you may not want to take the sellers word for it. Radon testing is cheap and can be combined with inspections for mold, lead, asbestos, etc. If tests show more than 4 pCi/L of radon, then mitigation is necessary. I also recommend it if levels are between 2 and 4 piCI/L. The test will take about 2 days to complete.

New homes are often constructed with radon-resistant features, generally including a gas permeable layer under the flooring system to allow gas to flow away from the house rather than into it and sealing to keep gas from coming in through below ground openings. For existing construction, select a qualified contractor and talk to them about radon reduction systems. The most common system uses a suction system to pull radon from under your home and vent it into the air above. This can cause a slight increase in utility bills – but it is worth it for your family’s health.  

Never buy a home, especially in areas where radon levels tend to be home, without testing for radon and making sure there is some kind of radon reduction system in place if necessary.

Real Estate Agents Should Realize the Necessity of Radon Testing  

The EPA tells us that one in 15 American homes may suffer the effects of cancer causing Radon gas. Radon gas is the result of naturally occurring uranium breaking down. The gas comes into homes through cracks and openings. Real estate agents who are interested in bringing their clients the safest properties available know that radon testing is an important part of that process.

 

Real Estate Agent Handing Over the House Keys in Front of a Beautiful New Home and For Sale Real Estate Sign.

Radon Detection Systems (RDS) works with real estate agents, corporate clients and homeowners to make properties safe for families and employees all across the country. When RDS was known as MINCO, we worked on discovering radon in dangerous industrial situations like mining operations. Since the 1980s, when radon gas was discovered to be a threat to homeowners, we began offering our services to commercial and residential properties.

Today, we engage in a variety of services meant to insure the utmost safety against toxins. We test properties for mold, lead, asbestos as well as radon gas. RDS can help real estate agents protect their clients and their bottom line with our services.

Radon Testing Helps Sell Property

Some survey results from a 2011 questionnaire by the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) shows the buyers believe home inspections are a must. 90% believed they are a necessity. 72% believe inspections saved them money and long-term problems. A home with a pre-sale inspection makes the buyer more confident in making the purchase. It’s likely that such homes would sell quicker and the sale may be made with less conditions attached, making it easier on the real estate agent.

Real estate agents agree. In a 2001 survey conducted by ASHI, 72% of real estate agents believed having a home inspector helped close transactions. 87% believed a home inspection improved buyer confidence.

RDS services can improve consumer confidence. We are board-certified for radon testing and mitigation installation services. We work closely with government agencies to keep abreast of new developments. The ASHI survey showed that consumer confidence improves when they know the qualifications of the inspectors.

Radon Testing Law and Liability

The legislative landscape regarding radon testing and mitigation is moving towards zero tolerance. Existing laws in most states requires sellers to disclose a great deal of information about the home they are selling. The failure to disclose such information (when it is discovered later) can kill a sale at best, and expose the seller and the seller’s agent to liability. In Minnesota, the law requires the disclosure of radon information before the purchase goes through. Failure to disclose the information and give buyers notice of a radon warning will subject the seller to a penalty.

Some states are considering following Minnesota’s lead. Some are even considering making radon mitigation tools mandatory for residential properties.

For now in Colorado, sellers are required to disclose “latent defects” in the home’s condition of which the seller is aware. It protects the buyer from purchasing a property with dangers not easily seen during a walkthrough. This should motivate agents and sellers alike to align themselves with high-quality inspectors skilled in detecting hidden problems like radon gas, which has no odor or color, or mold hidden beneath floors and walls. If these problems cause harm to a buyer later, the seller and agent could be liable for the damages.

We know radon gas and asbestos can cause lung cancer. Mold spores may be responsible for respiratory illnesses and exacerbate asthma. Selling a home quickly is a great reason to inspect homes for these problems, as is protecting agents and sellers from potential liability. The best reason is to protect the health of those moving into their dream home. That is what the expert professionals at RDS will provide.

Top 5 reasons to hire professionals for radon mitigation

Over time, being exposed to radon can lead to you or a loved one developing lung cancer.  As more people are becoming aware of radon more people are testing and more people are choosing to mitigate.

We are still finding that the majority of people contacting us for a mitigation estimate, are normally part of a real estate transaction, either on the buyer or sellers side. Whether you are selling or purchasing a new home choosing the right mitigation contractor is key.  The cost of a mitigation system is only one factor you should be looking at.

Not all radon mitigation contractors are thinking about your health, instead it is their wallet they are thinking about.  Don’t always go with the lowest bidder. Many times we get a call back after a homeowner who had a system installed by a low bidding mitigation contractor, paid for normally by the seller. The new owner decided to test the system and discovered their radon levels are higher than what they were prior to the system being installed.

Do your homework, don’t always go for the cost, remember, “you get what you pay for”.

Here are the top five reasons you should hire a professional mitigation contractor.

  1.  Health risks.  The first reason to hire a professional to reduce your radon levels is that the health risks of radon exposure are serious. Long-term exposure to radon can lead to death due to lung cancer.  People who are trained properly to assess the risk and mitigate it are always the best option.  When you have health issues, you see a Doctor. When you are having issues with radon, you should seek out a radon professional.
  2. Greater knowledge.  The  bottom line is that the professionals will be better able to identify the areas radon may be entering your home.  Their knowledge of the issue will result in a safer house for you and your family. Our team of mitigation contractors have over 30 years of experience in installing mitigation systems throughout Colorado. Our team is here to assist and answer your questions every step of the way.
  3. Your Family Matters.  This ties into the health risks. Your family and pets deserve to live in a home that does not have radon. More families are spending more time in their basements as new homes are being built with theatre rooms or grand play rooms and offices.  Spending more time in a basement with elevated radon levels increases your risk of lung cancer.  At just 6.pCi/L that is just above the EPA’s guideline of 4.0 pCi/L it is like giving your family 400 x-rays a year or smoking 16 cigarettes a day. That’s pretty serious.
  4. More Experience.  Trained mitigators will have more resources and experience. The bottom line is that the professionals will be better able to identify the areas radon may be entering your home.  Their knowledge of the issue will result in a safer house for you and your family.  As there are many older homes here in Colorado, these older homes can take a little bit of TLC to properly install a mitigation system. Our team of radon professionals at RDS Environmental have installed thousands of systems over the past 30 years. We have installed systems on historic buildings in Black Hawk to brand new homes in Denver Metro. Let us ensure your mitigation system is installed properly.
  5. Follow up Testing.  Once a mitigation system is installed you should always perform a post-mitigation test. It is the only way to know if your system is working properly. RDS provides a third party test with every system we install.  We guarantee our systems and will return to correct or make any adjustments to our systems to ensure you and your family are free from radon exposure in your home.

Remember in Colorado 1 out of every 2 homes has elevated radon levels. Test your home and should your radon levels be elevated contact our team of professionals today.  303-444-5253 .   Let our team of professionals “Protect What Matters Most.”

National Radon Action Plan

Join us in fighting the #2 cause of lung cancer: Radon. Check out the new national plan. Learn more about the plan here: National Radon Action plan

Is Radon Harmful to your Lungs?

Radon has been under the microscope for its effects to our health sense it was brought to our attention as home owners. Up untile recently there has been many skeptics that have always argued radon effects on our lungs, stating there has never been conclusive data that has proven the true effects of radon. A recent study done by chemist at the University of Pennsylvania, has shown that Radon does bond with discrete molecules ( such as lung tissue). As well the study shows what higher levels can cause as more molecule binding is seen at higher rates of Radon. This was a big step for the education on Radon and the community. The team of Chemist lead by a Professor Ivan J. Dmochowski used a process that came from xenon gas. Xenon Gas is a noble gas like Radon. With this test they can now use this to test Radon binding on Proteins in our lungs, and if we know Radon’s affinity for those proteins, you can get a better idea of the concentrations and timescale over which it is dangerous.

To read more on this recent breakthrough Click Here