Radon is a known carcinogen gas that comes from the natural breakdown of uranium in the soil. It can be found all over the country and can be present in any type of home.
It is measured in Pico Curries per liter “pCi/l” and according to EPA standards any test result above 4 pCi/l inside your home it is recommended that you lower the levels as much as possible.
The only way you can determine that you have elevated radon levels inside your home are to test for it.
There two basic ways to test for radon, long term and short term.
In a short term test you only test for approximately 48 hours using a continuous monitor, charcoal canisters or one of the many types available. Most short term tests are performed in a Real Estate transaction where time is limited due to the sales contract.
If you already live in your home you can do a long term test that usually lasts 90 days or longer, giving you a more accurate annual average of the radon levels inside your home.
Radon has many ways it gets inside your home, most common are through cracks and openings in the concrete floors or foundations, but radon can penetrate the concrete and block but having a painted surface with the cracks sealed actually helps reduce the amount of radon that can get into your home.
Common construction techniques also contribute such as sump pumps and the opening left under the bathtub for the drain and the gaps left where plumbing goes through the wall.
After you test for radon and find the levels are greater than the EPA guidelines it is up to you to make the decision to do something about it.
The most common way to lower the radon level in your home is to install a sub slab suction mitigation system. Installing a mitigation system is usually left to professionals, but there are companies that will sell the equipment and give detailed instructions on how to install it.
Many new homes are going ahead and placing a pipe in the slab and running the pipe through the roof much like a plumbing vent creating a passive radon system while the cost is very low. After you occupy the home you can test the level of radon present and if the readings are high you can add a in line fan and create a sub-slab mitigation system in your new home.
There is a tremendous amount of information available on radon, its effects on your health and how to lower it in your home on the EPA web site: www.epa.gov