Madeline Sullivan
The Dangers of Radon


 In Illinois, radon has been found in about 1 million homes. What is radon you ask? Radon is a naturally occurring gas that is formed in soil from decaying particles. According to the Illinois Homeowner’s Guide on Radon Reduction, It can enter the home from the soil below the building through imperfections in foundation, as well as unsealed service connections such as sump pumps and floor drains. Furthermore, poor ventilation in the basement can attribute to radon entering the home. In addition, some construction materials, such as concrete, cement blocks, gypsum block and masonry have been shown to have elevated levels of radon. However, it is not the radon gas itself that causes problems for homeowners. When radon breaks down, it forms particles called heavy metal daughters. To understand this a little better, imagine a cookie. This cookie represents radon in its first state before it breaks down. Now drop the cookie onto a counter or table. The crumbs that come of the radon cookie represent the heavy metal daughters that form when radon breaks down.

 According to the Illinois Homeowner’s Guide on Radon Reduction, when radon breaks down into the heavy metal daughters then mix with the indoor air, and it is then transported through the home. These heavy metal daughters can land on floors as well as furniture. In addition, it can remain in the air, and be inhaled by family members in the home. The inhalation of radon particles can lead to serious health conditions, including lung cancer. According to Illinois Homeowner’s Guide on Radon Reduction, about 5,000-10,000 deaths caused by lung cancer have been linked to radon exposure.  

            According to a new study released to the Illinois Emergency Management Agency, 42% of homes in Illinois tested positive for radon between the years 2003 to 2007. Due to the high amount of radon found in Illinois homes, homeowners are encouraged to test their home for radon every 10-15 years. When it comes to testing your home, homeowners have two choices. The first is to call a professional service to check your home for you. While this can get pricey, the benefit is that the professionals would be able to give you advice if radon was found. Also, you can be sure that the numbers the professional gives you are accurate. Second choice for homeowners is to buy a kit and check your home yourself. Radon test kits can be found online, or in hardware stores, and usually run between $15 and $20.00. Just like the option of using professionals, doing the testing yourself has its advantages and disadvantages. While it is cheaper than hiring professionals, there is a chance that something will go wrong while testing, causing the numbers to not be as accurate. Weigh your options before choosing one way or another, and decide which testing method is right for you.

            Once you detect radon in your home, there are a couple options to remove it. One method is dilution. This method entails blowing air through the home to increase air exchanged rate in the home. This can be done through natural air flow or by mechanical means, such as industrial fans with or without heat. Another important step in removing radon from your home is to find where the radon is entering your home. To do this, you can use your own test kit, or hire professionals to locate the source of the radon. When the source is located, asking professionals how to efficiently seal the area in order to prevent radon problems in the future. With a little extra hard work, you can protect your family, health and home and secure a bright future for all.