Radon and Carbon Monoxide Testing
When it comes to the health and safety of your family, nothing is more important. While many people worry about the physical dangers that can thwart their home and family, many often overlook the silent, yet deadly killers lurking within the walls of their own homes.
Radon and Carbon Monoxide are both odorless, colorless gases that can permeate the home and kill you. So, what are they? And, how do they get into our homes?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Radon is a radioactive gas that comes from the natural breakdown of uranium in soil, rock, and water, then gets into the air you breathe. It often moves up through the ground to the air above and into your home through cracks and other holes in the foundation. If there is recent construction on your home, you may want to get it tested for radon.
Radon is a national environmental health problem. It is tasteless, odorless, and invisible. Because of this, testing your home for radon is the only way to know your home’s radon levels. The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Surgeon General, American Lung Association, American Medical Association, and National Safety Council strongly urge families to test for radon.
According to the EPA, nearly one out of fifteen homes in the US (roughly 8 million homes) is estimated to have elevated levels of radon (over 4 pCi/L).
There are no immediate health issues associated with radon. However, after years of exposure, symptoms may appear and prove deadly. In fact, radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States. Those who smoke pose a greater risk.
Carbon Monoxide (CO)
Carbon monoxide gas can be caused by faulty furnaces, heaters, wood-burning stoves, gas ranges, fireplaces, electrical generators, and gas-powered and propane-powered tools. It can build up indoors and poison people and animals who breathe it.
Like radon, carbon monoxide cant be seen, tasted, or smelled. If ingested, common symptoms for carbon monoxide poisoning include flu-like symptoms: headache, dizziness, nausea, weakness, chest pain, stomach pain, confusion, etc. Too much inhalation of carbon monoxide can make someone pass out, or even kill them. Nobody is immune to carbon monoxide poisoning either. In fact, those at a greater risk for poisoning include, infants, seniors, those with cardiovascular disease, or those with respiratory problems.
Carbon monoxide poisoning is serious. According to the CDC, more than 400 Americans die annually from unintentional CO poisoning not linked to fires, more than 20,000 visit the emergency room, and more than 4,000 are hospitalized.
Like mentioned earlier in the article, testing is the only way to know if radon or carbon monoxide is present in the home.
Radon: Testing your home for radon is easy and fairly inexpensive. You can purchase a test or hire a professional. There are two tests–a short term (between 2-90 days), or a long term (over 90 days). If your test comes back with a level of 4 or higher, you will need to hire an experienced contractor certified to work with radon.
Carbon monoxide: The easiest way to see if there is carbon monoxide inside your home is with a carbon monoxide detector (which also includes an alarm). Many building codes require a carbon monoxide detector. If you suspect its presence, you can also test for it by hiring a private company to test the indoor air quality, or hiring an HVAC company to analyze the HVAC system.
Recommendations for Buyers and Sellers
When buying or selling, always have the home tested for radon. The EPA recommends knowing what the indoor radon level is in any home you consider purchasing. For buyers, ask if radon-resistant construction features were used and if the home has been tested. It’s ok to ask for the radon test results. If the home has a radon-reduction system, gather information from the seller about the system. For those choosing to build a home, you can also incorporate radon reduction features into your home. Review this Home Buyer’s and Seller’s Guide to Radon for more information.
For sellers, fix the home if the radon level is 4 pCi/L or higher. If your home has high concentrations of radon, there are ways to reduce it to acceptable levels. Most radon problems can be fixed by a do-it-yourselfer at a reasonable price. Should you need professional assistance, review this list of certified radon mitigators for your state.
Install a carbon monoxide detector in your home near a place where you can hear it if the alarm sounds while asleep. Check the battery every six months and replace the detector itself every five years. In addition, the CDC has a great resource of tips to follow to eliminate risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.
When it comes to radon and carbon monoxide, play it safe and have your home tested. It could save your life.
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