How to Keep Those You Love Safe from the Silent Killer

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By Insoo Park, Founder — Ecosense 

Every year, approximately 21,000 people die from lung cancer caused by radon gas exposure. A known carcinogen, the EPA warns that approximately 1 out of every 15 homes in the US contain elevated levels of radon at or above the 4 picocuries per liter (pCi/L) action level. Known as a “silent killer,” radon is odorless and tasteless, meaning people can easily have it rise to dangerous levels without proper testing. 

For those who have not bought or sold a home in the past 20 years, the issue of high radon levels may not even be on a person’s mind. However, long-term radon exposure can be extremely dangerous, so proper education on the issue is essential. 

Continuous radon monitoring for safety 

Radon is a radioactive gas found in the ground and within most rocks. When one is outside, radon is not a concern. But when radon becomes trapped indoors, it becomes a problem if not adequately mitigated. Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer behind only cigarette smoking, as breathing radon affects the lining of the lungs. 

In recent years, there have been a number of efforts brought forth for radon mitigation, with all mitigation efforts beginning with sound detection. Without the ability to detect the presence of radon, the need to mitigate cannot be determined. Currently, if a house is bought or sold, there is a standard one-time 48-hour test used to predict the annual average concentration of radon within the home. While a one-time test may give a current baseline for the purposes of a house sale, it is not an effective tool for measuring one’s radon exposure over time. 

The amount of indoor radon present constantly fluctuates due to seasonal changes, precipitation, and atmospheric pressure throughout the year.  Temperature variations between indoors and outside have the greatest effect on radon levels because they alter the pressure relationship between the building and the soil below.  

At Ecosense, we’ve taken this need for continuous radon monitoring and developed a detection system that continuously monitors radon levels within a home. Both EcoBlu and EcoQube provide fast and accurate results that can be accessed in real-time and offer cost-effective solutions that can be placed in the house to give a clearer picture of a home’s overall radon density. It also offers industry-leading counting efficiency of 18 and 30 CPH/pCi/L respectively (counts per hour per pCi per liter) making these compact devices extremely responsive to incremental changes in the radon levels as they reliably monitor the radon levels in homes, office buildings, and schools all year round.

There are many options on the market that will provide a sense of security through continuous radon monitoring. Some have integrated smartphone technology, and others take design into consideration and blend seamlessly with home decor. But in order to gain a more accurate measurement overall, radon readings have to be taken numerous times each hour. 

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The chance to save lives 

Everyone should test their homes for radon even if they are not planning on selling it any time soon. There’s no need to wait for a realtor to say a test is necessary. The only way to know if your home has elevated levels of radioactive gas is to test. 

If radon is found to be above EPA’s recommended action level, there are affordable options to make one’s home safer. A professionally-installed radon reduction system is recommended if a detection system picks up on radon levels at or above 4 pCi/L. The most effective approach prevents radon from entering your home by drawing the gas from below the house and venting it through a pipe to the air above the roof where it is quickly diluted.

Even if your average indoor radon is below the action level, you can still lower your lung cancer risk by sealing cracks — especially around the building’s foundation — and improving the home’s ventilation system. After mitigation, it is especially important to have a radon monitoring system in place to continuously verify the remediation efforts are remaining effective. 

Radon can be a serious problem, but there are options for people who wish to keep their homes as safe and radon-free as possible. With proper monitoring and quick mitigation efforts, radon can be eliminated, and people can enjoy healthier home environments. 

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