If you’re a resident of Ames, you may have already heard about our higher radon levels. In fact, the EPA has assigned Story County as a radon high risk zone. This means the average radon screenings have shown levels higher than 4pCi/L. In layman’s terms, this means the radon levels in the county are higher than the amount the EPA has deemed safe. For those of us in the Ames area, that’s a scary thing to think about, but that’s why we test for radon and mitigate where necessary.
What is Radon and How Does it Form?
Radon naturally occurs as a part of the decaying process of radioactive materials. It’s a noble gas that’s odorless, tasteless, and colorless, making it impossible to detect without proper testing. While it has a short half-life of just 3.8 days, it’s produced as part of the decaying process of some of the most common and naturally-occurring radioactive elements (uranium and thorium), this means radon will be around long after we’re gone. The gas can exist in soil, then escape into the atmosphere, which means it can get into your home. This is when it truly becomes a problem. When radon is outside, levels are quickly diluted, but in the confines of a building, levels are often much higher.
Levels in the Home
Often, homeowners will think their radon levels are low because one of their neighbors recently had their home tested and the measurements were within the safe zone. However, something to remember is that levels can vary based on a number of factors and affect homes in the same neighborhood differently. For instance, slab-on-grade foundations often have several openings that radon can use as entry points. If you’re spending a lot of time in the basement of your home and have higher levels of radon in the home, your exposure will likely be much more detrimental over time. Folks who have crawl spaces in their homes can experience higher radon levels thanks to the creation of negative air pressure vacuums.
Water and Radon
It’s not uncommon to see radon released into the air from water. Often, this happens when water is being pumped from underground wells that are deep in rock that’s been affected by high levels of radon. Typically, surface water (ponds, lakes, rivers) have lower levels, if exposed to radon, because it’s not confined. The good news is, water isn’t a significant contributing factor when it comes to exposure to radon, overall.
Health Problems Related to Radon
Exposure to radon can result in several serious health problems, but the most well-known is lung cancer. While smoking is the leading cause of lung cancer in the US, radon is the leading cause among non-smokers (and second leading cause overall), per the EPA. In the US, radon-induced lung cancers result in approximately 21,000 deaths each year and of those, 2,900 people had never smoked. Cigarette smoke and radon gas together lead to a bigger risk for developing lung cancer than smoking and radon do on their own.
Testing and Mitigation
Again, because Ames and Story County are a hotbed for radon activity, it’s necessary to test for it, so you can mitigate it as needed. Honestly, it’s a great idea for everyone in Iowa to test for radon, because we’re in Zone 1, as rated by the EPA. That means our average predicted radon screening levels are above 4 pCi/L.
How We Test for Radon
Testing for radon is fairly simple these days. When you contact Cyclone Contracting for radon measurement and mitigation services, there are two different testing options. We can give you a free radon test kit, which will spend 3-7 days in your home collecting a reading. You’ll then mail the kit to a lab for results. This usually takes about 10-14 days. The second option is our continuous radon monitor (CRM). This will be placed, by a licensed measurement specialist, ensuring the results are reliable and accurate in your home for 48 hours,. Each hour, a reading is taken. After those two full days, results are ready. In any case, if radon levels are unsafe, our professionals will head to your home to fully assess the situation.
Mitigation Services and Ongoing Measurement
Once our pros have investigated the radon problem in your house, we install a radon mitigation system that will work best for your home and family. Depending on the situation, this could be active soil depressurization, crawl space encapsulation and depressurization, and/or HRV and ERV options. When you work with us, you’re not alone. We also offer ongoing radon measurement, so you can sleep soundly, knowing your family is constantly protected.
Contact Our Radon Measurement & Mitigation Specialists
We’re proud to have both professional Radon Certified Measurement Specialists and Radon Certified Mitigation Specialists on our team. This means we can make sure your home is tested properly the first time and at each subsequent check-in. If your home is found to have unsafe levels of radon, our mitigation specialists can step in to help. Learn more about our radon mitigation and how to keep your home safe by scheduling an appointment with us today!