Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Radon

Each year at about this time the local tv stations do a segment on radon. It usually features an older house and an owner who has been diagnosed with lung cancer. It's always a sad story and gets you thinking....

Having dealt with lead paint and asbestos, I knew that my odds of having a trifecta of hazardous houshold materials was probably pretty good. Murphy's Law.

I went down to my local hardware store and bought a testing kit. I wanted the most extreme measurement, so I put the tests in the basement (following the directions on the label). Sure enough, the tests came back and my basement air is just a hair over the lowest EPA safety level. This prompted more research on my part, which I will share (because its not all that fun to hunt down - but fairly easy to understand & resolve).

First - What is Radon? Radon is a radioactive gas that comes from the decay of radium in the soil. Radium is a decay product of uranium. Uranium is present in almost all rocks and soil and material derived from rocks. Radon is a colorless, odorless, invisible gas that occurs naturally. Chronic exposure to elevated radon levels has been linked to an increased incidence of lung cancer in humans (definition and also more good reading info. curtesy of the MN Radon Project).

Second - Testing. I bought my short term test kit at the local hardware store. However, I have since discovered that the MN Dept. of Health, in addition to having some good information on their website, has arranged for cheap tests to be sold to MN residents.

Third - What to do next. I've determined that I probably should retest by placing short term tests in the basement and each of my more frequently used living spaces. My results were so borderline and were taken in an area where I don't spend much time, so is isn't a hot issue for me. However, it would be nice toclearly know the extent of the problem.

Fourth - I'm not this far in the process. But, of course you want to know immediately what type of expense you might be facing. I did.....so I did a little research on mitigation too. Much to my relief, this isn't a costly thing to fix. Both the MN Radon Project and the MN DOH websites offer contractor info. One website appearing on both the DOH and MRP lists has a nice picture of the mitigation solutions.

I'll keep you posted as this topic progresses.......

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