Everything You Need To Know About Radon

Table of Contents

What is Radon?

Radon is a colorless, odorless, and tasteless gas that is created from the natural breakdown of uranium found in soil, rocks, and water. The gas itself rises from the ground below and can permeate the grounds and walls of your home as well as contaminate well water. Many times, homes and other residential areas may be built on top or near plots of rocky soil that is slowly breaking down radioactive material. Given that gas is atmospheric and formless, it is easy for small pockets to slip through cracks in the foundation of your home.

Surprisingly, Radon gas can be found not only in the soil beneath us but in everyday materials as well. To be more specific, trace amounts of Radon gas can also be found in all-natural minerals including but not limited to sand, granite, and stone. Much of these minerals contain something known as NORMs which stands for (Naturally Occurring Radioactive Materials). This is mainly due to the fact that mostly everything made with Granite or Ceramics contains elements such as thorium, uranium, etc in trace amounts. However, much of the gas is diluted with regular air circulation through the home. Provided that these everyday objects only give off trace amounts, it is not enough to make anyone seriously sick. For more information on Radon and its health effects, please refer to (insert EPA link here)

Where Is Radon Commonly Found?

Aside from everyday objects, Radon gas is found through the natural breakdown of natural materials that happen beneath our feet. Here are a few contributors to the Radon gas in residential areas.

Igneous/Volcanic Rocks

Aside from elements such as Uranium and Thorium, igneous/volcanic rocks also emit radon gas. Interestingly enough, many deposits of igneous rock in the United States, are found along the southern Appalachian mountain range. The mountain range itself stretches from Pennsylvania down to Mississippi, while Oregon is situated in the Pacific Northwest. Research has concluded that there aren’t many igneous rocks and volcanic material, therefore not the cause of possible radon gas entering your home.

Uranium Deposits

As previously discussed, many of the rock formations that contain veins of Uranium, thorium, etc, begin to erode. As time progresses, the rocks holding the veins of elements like uranium begin to decompose and release radon gas naturally into the environment. Provided that the Pacific Northwest is ripe with lush forestry and no looming volcano in sight, the common cause of radon gas around the Oregon area is attributed to these rock formations resulting in radioactive deposits. Research also backs this as the region’s soil was once an active search area for harder elements such as Gold and Uranium. The mining sites have since been decommissioned, cleaned up, and abandoned around 2005. 

Where Is Radon In My Home? 

With Radon testing, there are a myriad of different services and inexpensive products that can be used to ascertain the levels of Radon in your home. Before going over the options that are available, it is important to keep a few variables in mind. 

  • Where do you live? (House? Apartment?)
    • Your current living situation can play a  role in determining the radon levels in your dwelling area. 
    • Do you have a basement?
    • Are there small cracks in the walls or foundation of your home?

There are many other variables to consider with Radon gas in homes. The questions listed above are fundamental questions to ask when trying to discern how much gas may actually be coming into your home. Given its gaseous and ethereal nature, Radon gas has no problem slipping through the cracks and seams of your home. This is especially true for people living in apartments. In most cases, Radon gas levels in upper-level apartment units can hold just as much radon gas as their bottom-level neighbors due to the way ventilation is set up throughout the apartment building. Home-owners are also encouraged to begin looking at possible suspect spots such as cracks in the floor or walls that may be allowing Radon gas to slip in.

At first glance, homeowners who also have a basement may find the cracks in the wall to be signs of age or loss of overall integrity. However, the basement’s immediate surroundings happen to be underground, where many different minerals are being broken down, thereby emitting radioactive gases. The cracks in the basement walls or floor may facilitate Radon gas spread throughout the home.

  • Your Windows and Weather
    • Do I keep my windows open?

You may be wondering how your windows and weather play a part in radon gas build-up. During the colder months of Oregon where temperatures drop, most do not leave windows open.. This is when the Radon build-up begins. With little fresh air circulation occurring in the home, Radon gas may accumulate. 

How To Test For Radon

Alpha Environmental Services, Inc. is ready to help Oregon residents at a moment’s notice. Servicing the Greater Portland area for over 20 years, Alpha has the experience and knowledge to handle just about anything. Fully serviced in environmental consultation and remediation, our goal is to get the job done correctly and efficiently while still protecting our clients. With areas of expertise in areas including (but not limited to) mold, sewers, heating oil tanks, septic tanks, radon, asbestos and more, our servicing specialists are more than capable of accurately discovering the levels of Radon that may be present in your home. If you’re looking for a consultation, please feel free to call us at (503)292-5346or visit our website by clicking here!

How To Reduce Radon Levels In Your Home

Armed with this information and second-hand research, it is natural to wonder what are some immediate remedies to clearing your home of Radon gas. Here are a few fool-proof tricks that will mitigate your radon levels for a short period of time.

  • Opening your windows
    • Letting airflow into your home will facilitate circulation and may reduce the gas in the environment.
  • Seal any cracks you find
    • Sealing of the cracks within your home may seem like putting a bandage over a leaking wound. However, sealing these cracks with robust material will go a long way in repairing your home and preventing leaks.

While there are many other DIY remedies, most residents can reliably follow these two preventative measures for a little peace of mind. For a more long-term solution, contact Alpha Environmental Services, Inc. for all your environmental needs.

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Lake Oswego, OR
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