EPA Still Recommends Radon Inspections
Posted July 16, 1998 7:00 a.m. EDT
RALEIGH — It was a health scare in the 1980's, but its been years since we've heard much about radon. TheEnvironmental Protection Agencysays North Carolina's radon levels, in general, are not considered high. But, when's the last time you checked your home?
In addition to checking the structural integrity of a home, building inspector Rich Kinsman and his son Dean will also check for deadly radon gas.
"In the greater Raleigh area, overall, probably one in 50 to one in 75 homes may have radon," Kinsman explains.
When naturally occurring uranium in soil decomposes, it produces radon gas. Typically the gas safely dissipates, especially in homes with large crawl spaces. Plastic covering on the ground and plenty of vents help keep the radon levels down.
"The higher levels of radon tend to be in houses that have a slab or full basement because you're measuring on the lowest living area," says Kinsman, "and therefore you'd be down on the concrete and the radon will come up from the ground through the concrete."
Because of the soil composition, the EPA shows that mountain counties in North Carolina tend to have the highest concentrations of radon. As you head toward the sandy coast, the risks gradually decrease.
Back in the 80's home radon detectors were hot sellers. But nowadays, you'd be hard pressed to even find them in your local hardware store.
Although its not nearly the media buzzword it once was, radon still exists and inspectors do offer testing. If you are unsure of your risks, the EPA suggests you have your house tested.
We've known for years that exposure to high levels of radon gas caused lung cancer in miners. Now British researchers have discovered the first evidence that low levels of radon can also cause lung cancer.
Researchers measured radon levels in homes of nearly 1,000 lung cancer patients, and found that one in 20 cases of cancer could be traced to radon in the home.