According to the EPA, Radon is a radioactive gas that comes from the soil. Exposure to radon gas is the second-leading cause of lung cancer (after smoking) in the United States. About 21,000 people die each year from radon-related lung cancer.
Radon is produced from the natural breakdown of the uranium found in most rocks and soils. As it further breaks down, radon emits atomic particles. These particles are in the air we breathe. Once inhaled, they can be deposited in our lungs. The energy associated with these particles can alter cell DNA, thus increasing the risk of lung cancer.
Radon usually does not present a health risk outdoors because it is diluted in the open air. Radon can, however, build up to dangerous levels inside a house.
The EPA has worked with state and federal geologists to develop maps which predict the potential indoor radon levels for every county in the United States. Those counties with the highest potential are designated as Zone 1; those with the lowest comprise Zone 3.
The only way to know if your new home has a radon problem is to test. The EPA recommends that average annual indoor radon levels do not exceed 4.0 pCi/L. If your home is built with a passive radon system, you should test it immediately after moving in to make sure that radon levels are below the EPA guideline.
Remember: If your radon level is 4.0 pCi/L or above, a fan can be installed easily to lower radon levels well below this guideline.
Even if you must install a fan, adding a radon control system to a house under construction is much less expensive than installing one after the house is built.
The average cost for a radon control system in an existing house is comparable to other home repairs. Adding radon-resistant construction now will save you unnecessary expense and worry later.