Why, you may ask, is a travel blog talking about radon gas? Many things contribute to traveling light through life. One of them is good health. Occasionally I post about this aspect.
Some of you are aware I was offline for some months. My sister was diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer late last year.
How did we find out she had cancer? She was hospitalized with pneumonia for nine days in September, 2018. Pneumonia is difficult to cure when someone has lung cancer. The difficulty was a red flag. This led to several tests which eventually led to the diagnosis.
My sister’s cancer was quite a shock for someone who had never smoked a day in her life. She was exposed to limited second-hand smoke for several years. Could that have been the reason for her cancer?
Shortly after her diagnosis, I read news items about radon gas. I’d never paid attention to the subject before.
Radon gas is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States. According to the American Cancer Society, scientists estimate that 20,000 lung cancer deaths per year are related to radon. https://www.cancer.org/cancer/cancer-causes/radiation-exposure/radon.html
When I told my sister about this information, she said, “I read that, too.”
Now that made it more significant to me. If both our eyes were being opened to this subject at the same time, I’d better investigate it further.
As I researched I found more reasons for concern. I purchased a simple test kit from a local hardware store. Following the instructions, we set it up in an appropriate area of her house.
At the end of the specified trial period, my sister mailed the test to the laboratory.
Although no level of radon gas is considered truly safe, (check with your state’s suggested levels), the national information suggested anything of 4 or over should be cause for concern. Check the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) website for further information:
According to the EPA, the average indoor radon level is about 1.3 picocuries per liter (pCi/L). The EPA states: People should take action to lower radon levels in their home if the level is 4.0 pCi/L or higher.
The laboratory analysis arrived via email. Their report stated the level of radon gas in my sister’s home was 18.0 pCi/L. Yes. Eighteen! They underlined and highlighted that number.
This led us to the strong suspicion that radon gas may very well have been the cause of my sister’s lung cancer. Can we prove it? No. But it certainly is worthy of concern.
Shortly after receiving those test results my sister arranged an appointment with a company that specialized in radon gas control and home ventilation. It’s called mitigation.
Pipes were installed on the floor of the crawl space to ventilate the air to the outside. The ground and pipes were covered with a thick layer of plastic to contain the gas.
A monitor to read radon gas levels was also installed. Since the installation, the latest test results revealed only 0.3% of radon gas—well below average. What a relief!
Radon gas is everywhere. It results from the break-down of uranium in the soil. Most radon gas disperses into the atmosphere and doesn’t cause a problem.
Because my sister’s home was tightly sealed (like most newer home construction) with no outside ventilation via windows, doors or air exchange system, the radon gas levels built up to toxic levels.
If you have a newer or air-tight home, make sure it has a ventilation system to exchange outside air.
New home or old, make sure that the ground is sealed off from the living quarters of your home. Close off any open crawl spaces or any other areas of open ground (such as cracks in basement walls, etc.) to prevent radon gas from entering your home.
Test your home for radon gas levels. Test kits are available for a minimum fee. Or hire a company to determine the levels in your home. Either way it is well worth the peace of mind to know.
If you are building a new home, make certain that a properly working air exchange system is part of your new construction. Yes, there might be an extra expense involved. But neglecting to do so may be more costly than you can imagine.
To your health!
Until next time . . . Travel Light,
© 2019 SuZan Klassen