Radon Dangers for Oregon Families: Q&A With Enhabit

Every home should be tested for radon.
We’ll tell you why.

IMG_1223-medThe Oregon Health Authority notes that at least 1 in 4 properties in the Portland/Vancouver metropolitan area have high levels of radon. January is National Radon Action Month, so it’s the perfect time to test your home.

Got questions about the next steps? We’ve got answers! Enhabit Home Performance Advisor Irie Searcy responds to frequently asked questions about radon.

Q: What is radon?
A: Radon is a naturally occurring inert gas that is brought on by the radioactive decay of radium. You cannot see or smell it, and high levels can be dangerous when it comes into the house. That’s why we test living spaces for high levels of radon.

Q: What are the risks associated with radon?
A: The long-term risk of radon is that it can lower your body’s ability to fight off tumors.  Radon is the second-leading cause of lung cancer after smoking. High levels of radon can deteriorate your lung tissue over time.

Q: How do I test my home for radon?
A: The first step is to order a radon test kit online, or buy one from a local home improvement store. The process is simple and it only takes 3-7 days. All you have to do is place the test kit in your home on the lowest level of living space. Even if you don’t have a basement, the first level works fine. The test is most effective when the windows and doors are kept closed, and you continue about your daily routines as usual. Don’t worry—you can open the door to go in and out of the house! After the testing period, you send the kit back to the lab and will receive the results soon after.  And, an Enhabit Home Performance Advisor is available to discuss your results and next steps with you.

Q: How often should I test my home?
A: It’s a good idea to test your home during different times of the year. Try it once in winter and once in summer. It’s not necessary to test every year, but it is good to test during both seasons. You could also try testing before and after a project. Getting your home sealed up may reduce how quickly levels of radon dissipate.

Q: What is a high level of radon?
A: A radon test shows levels of radioactive decay in picocuries per liter (pCi/L). 4 pCi/L is the EPA’s action level and 2.7 pCi/L is the World Heath Organization’s action level.

Q: What do I do if my home has high levels of radon?
A: I recommend that people retest their homes if they are anywhere between 2 pCi/L and 4 pCi/L. If you get high levels, it’s a good idea to retest with a radon specialist. They may recommend a long-term test. At that point, if it’s over 4 pCi/L, it’s time for mitigation. A radon mitigation system won’t always bring your level down to 0, but it will bring it below the action level.