First recognized as a health hazard following the discovery of Radon accumulating in a home in Pottstown Pennsylvania back in the 1980’s, Radon has deep ties to the state. It is in Pennsylvania that we first investigated and fully appreciated the natural occurrence of Radon, the potential for exposure to building occupants, and how best to resolve Radon issues in homes.
We can thank Pennsylvania for a lot of the early attention this issue received and the focus on developing mitigation processes, but that discovery wasn’t purely luck. As we would learn over the following years, Pennsylvania has a very high rate of Radon gas issues in homes. In fact, of the 67 counties in Pennsylvania, a shocking 49 of them are ranked as having the highest potential for elevated Radon levels to be found in homes. 17 others are ranked as having a moderate potential of having an elevated indoor Radon level.
But what does all that mean and how common IS Radon in Pennsylvania? Let’s take a look. But first, let’s address what Radon is and where it comes from.
What is Radon?
Radon is a radioactive gas that is colorless, odorless, and tasteless. For this reason, it is not detectable by our senses, requiring specialized Radon testing to determine if, and to what extent, a Radon issue may exist in a property. Radon gas could be in your home without your ever knowing!
Over the years, we’ve learned a lot about Radon gas and, more specifically, the health effects of exposure to Radon over time. As a radioactive gas, it stands to reason that breathing or ingesting Radon could affect our health, but the numbers may still surprise you. Studies and research have linked Radon to as many as 21,000 lung cancer deaths every year, making it the 2nd leading cause of lung cancer in the United States and the leading cause among non-smokers.
Where does Radon come from?
Radon occurs naturally from the breakdown of radioactive elements in the soil. This gas then enters homes through the foundation, often collecting in dangerous levels. Because homes are built tighter and more energy efficient today, Radon gas is believed to be able to now accumulate at higher and higher levels inside homes, increasing the need for Radon testing and for proper Radon Mitigation efforts to address Radon issues and reduce indoor Radon levels.
Is Radon common in Pennsylvania?
As mentioned above, Radon is extremely common in Pennsylvania, but what do these zones mean?
Zone 1 - These Pennsylvania counties have a predicted average indoor Radon level greater than 4.0 pCi/L. 4.0 pCi/L is considered the action level where a Radon Mitigation System is strongly recommended.
Zone 2 - These Pennsylvania counties have a predicted average indoor Radon level of between 2.0 pCi/L and 4.0 pCi/L. Testing is recommended and a Radon Mitigation System should be installed in cases where the indoor Radon level is above the action level of 4.0 pCi/L.
Zone 3 - These Pennsylvania counties have a predicted average indoor Radon level below 2.0 pCi/L. While testing may be advisable, elevated levels are uncommon.
As you can see, elevated indoor Radon levels are quite common in much of Pennsylvania, making testing for Radon gas incredibly important in order to identify high Radon levels in structures so that these issues can be address timely and effectively.
Why is Radon common in Pennsylvania?
Due to Pennsylvania’s geology, Radon gas is incredibly common in many counties. Essentially, Radon gas occurs naturally due to the breakdown of radioactive elements in rock and soil, which rises to the surface as a gas. Unfortunately, many counties in Pennsylvania have a high level of these radioactive elements below our feet, increasing the potential for Radon gas issues in our homes.
How do you know if you have a Radon issue?
Specialized Radon testing is available that will allow Pennsylvania residents to determine if they have a Radon issue in their homes. Testing is available through licensed Radon Mitigation Testing providers, or through the purchase of a Home Radon Test Kit.
If a Radon issue is discovered, installation of a Radon Mitigation System by a qualified and licensed Radon Mitigation Firm can reduce your Radon level to below the action level.
How are high Radon levels reduced in Pennsylvania?
Radon levels can be reduced through the installation of a Radon Mitigation System by a qualified and properly licensed Radon Mitigation Firm. Essentially, they will drill a hole below your basement foundation, allowing them to install a vent pipe and specialized Radon fan unit, so that the Radon gas can be vented up above the roof line and out of your home. This prevents Radon gas from accumulating inside your home, reducing your exposure.
Following installation of a Radon Mitigation System, it is recommended to test your home for Radon every 2 years to ensure that adjustments to the system do not need to be made. As the geology beneath your home can change, fluctuations in Radon levels can occur over time.
We hope this was helpful and informative! If you have any additional questions about Radon Mitigation or Radon issues in Pennsylvania, please don’t hesitate to Contact Our Offices, we’re always happy to help!
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