Updated: May 31, 2020
With the Coronavirus quarantining Pittsburgh families inside their homes, it is critical that families follow instructions from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and take extra precaution to keep their loved ones safe. Although staying indoors and social distancing are good ways to reduce risk of developing COVID-19 symptoms, it opens up another danger that you may not notice. A danger that the CDC recognizes as claiming 21,000 deaths every year. That danger is Radon gas, and if your home has not been recently tested, it could mean serious harm to you and your family.
Radon is a deadly gas that you cannot see, taste, or even smell, and is completely hidden from human senses. Radon is naturally occurring and comes from the breakdown of uranium in the soil all over the planet. Since Radon is the most dense noble gas, it loves to condense in the lowest level of a home, typically a basement.
So it's a gas that lingers in your basement? What is the big deal? The big deal is that when inhaled, Radon gas breakdowns the inner lining of the cells in our lungs, making us susceptible to Lung Cancer. This means that Radon-induced Lung Cancer can impact someone who does not even smoke!
Radon is everywhere in the world, but some areas are higher than others. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), states that a "safe" Radon level is anything less than 4.0 pCi/L. No amount of Radon is safe, so the lower the better. Even at 4.0 pCi/L, the amount of radiation is extreme. 4.0 pCi/L is equivalent to smoking 10 cigarettes a day. I don't know about you, but that is not something that i would want to expose myself or my family to. While the EPA recommends 4.0, the World Health Organization (WHO), recommends Radon remediation at any level above 2.7.
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So you are probably thinking, how does Radon impact my family and I living in Pittsburgh? The answer will surprise you. In the United States, on average, 1 in 15 homes have Radon levels above 4.0. However, in Pittsburgh, PA, 4 in 10 homes have Radon above 4.0. So now that your family is quarantined safely in your home from the Coronavirus, spending more time in your basement and your home in general, you could be exposing yourself to deadly Radon gas. This doesn't necessarily mean that you will get Lung Cancer tomorrow, but Radon-induced Lung Cancer is a factor of time and exposure. The more time you and your loved ones spend in a high Radon level area, the more damage done to your lungs.
COVID-19 has infected thousands of people, and is a serious risk to Pittsburgh families. Radon is also a danger and will continue to be even after the coronavirus situation is solved. In order for your family to be safe, testing your home for Radon should be an important consideration.
How Do I Know if I have Radon in My Home?
You and your family are in your home for an extended period time during this national crisis, but you have no idea if your home has high Radon or not. How do you know if you have Radon in your home? The solution is actually surprisingly simple. The easiest way to determine if your home has elevated Radon levels is to have Radon testing done in your home. There are two ways you can conduct Radon testing.
1. You can do a DIY Radon test kit. These test kits can be purchased online and are fairly easy to set up. You can hang your DIY Radon charcoal test kit in a secluded area in your basement for a minimum of 48 hours.You then send your kit to a lab and have the results sent to you in about a week. After everything is said and done, the test kit will cost you about $50 dollars. The con of using a DIY test kit is that the results are easily skewed if the test is not handled properly. The result is also an average of the time it was left out, and can be effected by things like a pet moving it, or even a basement door being constantly opened. Since it is one number, you can't tell how accurate the results are.
2. The more advanced option is to have a Radon professional use a Continuous Radon Monitor to get an hour by hour reading of your home's Radon levels. These devices can easily depict any outliers that may occur and give you an extremely accurate reading. Most Radon companies can conduct this type of test for $100 dollars. Twice the price, but nothing needs to be done on your part, and you know you are getting accurate results.
*Statistics from radon.com
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Coronavirus and Radon Gas
So how does the Coronavirus impact Radon gas? Are they connected? The answer is, well, kind of. Radon doesn't cause COVID-19 and you are not necessarily more likely to get Coronavirus if you have high levels. However, with families staying inside more, you will be exposed to Radon more frequently, and if your home is at unsafe levels, then COVID-19 could be putting you, and your family at risk of Radon induced lung cancer. In order to combat this, we recommend all Pittsburgh families take this time at home to have Radon testing done. Whether it is a DIY test kit, or more accurate testing by a Radon company, Home Radon Pros wants you and your family to be as safe as possible.
Radon levels fluctuate constantly and can change over time, for better or for worse. The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), recommends you test your home once every two years. At Home Radon Pros, we recommend having your home tested twice every two years- once in the winter, and once in the summer. This is because Radon levels are typically higher in the winter months due to soil conditions and the amount of airflow going through your home being reduced in the winter. As families keep their doors closed more than ever during this time, that is only contributing to potentially higher levels.
Staying Safe From COVID-19 and Radon in Pittsburgh
We encourage all Pittsburgh residents to practice safe precautions already being communicated by the Center for Disease Control (CDC), center for disease control and prevention, such as washing your hands, avoiding touching your face and social distancing as much as possible.
We also recommend you follow the CDC's guidelines when it comes to protecting your family from Radon gas.
1. Radon testing- The first step is to determine what Radon is doing to your home. The ONLY way to do this is to test for Radon. Whether it is a DIY kit or a Continuous Radon Monitor by a Radon professional, take the time and test your home. Radon companies like Home Radon Pros, are taking extra safety precautions to maintain CDC guidelines of social distancing and sanitizing to ensure Coronavirus does not compromise your home.
2. Radon removal (if necessary)- If your home comes back above EPA action levels, we encourage you have a Radon company install a Radon remediation system or a system that will reduce the Radon in your home. Professionals at Home Radon Pros can typically install a custom-built radon mitigation system in Pittsburgh in one day.
3. Stay safe- Continue to follow safe practices until this tough time is over
If you or a loved one has any questions about Radon testing in Pittsburgh, or anything else regarding safety precautions involving Radon gas, please give us a call at 412-584-0799, or email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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