Radon: What have you done to protect yourself?

As we all know, Radon supposedly isn’t active everywhere. However, because the gas is caused by the decay of radium, it could eventually happen everywhere.

The EPA has suggested that every house in the USA get their house checked for their Radon levels every 2 years. Have you done that?
What does that number you get mean?
What are your ideas of your basement space?
Why does it matter what I do in the basement?

What does that number you get mean?

Firstly, it’s just a good plane idea to get tested. Radon can then rise with the air content and actually travel through your house, not just affecting the basement environment.

Once you get the test results back, you’ll be faced with a number. For air Radon, a number of 4 or higher is a “not so good” sign. Treatment systems tend to be highly recommended if not demanded upon you at that number. Results from 2-4 are dependent on what you want to do with the space, and anything below a 2 is minimal.

For water Radon levels (such as getting your well water treated, it’s much the same scale). If Radon located in your water supply is higher then 10,000 pCi/L (picocuries per liter) then treatment will be heavily suggested. 4,000-9,999 can have other plans for treatment in mind, and anything fewer than 4,000 is considered safe and for you to retest in 3-5 years.

Radon has only recently received the press it rightly deserves. 21,000 people in the United States die from over exposure to the Gas every year. It’s highly toxic and it’s very important to get tested and to take the results seriously.

What are your ideas of your basement space?

This question has much to do with how acceptable a Radon result number you have. If you’re planning on expanding and adding a living space, or an area you’ll spend a lot of time in, then anything over a 2 really isn’t acceptable. The only thing you could do with a 2 or higher is to use it as a storage space that you spent little to no time in.

Regardless of your plans, levels above a 4 can be costly to your health on the 1st and 2nd floors as well.

Why does it matter what I do in the basement?

As of right now you might not be doing anything in your basement. But if you’re like me, I work down there on house projects, new cabinet doors, painting trim; I also store all my tools and other house maintenance equipment down there. So, I end up spending a great deal of time, not only in the basement but coming and going.
Radon only needs a small amount of exposure time to start doing the damage it’s known for on the human body. With all the combined time you spend interacting with the space, it’d be a better idea for you to make sure that you’re also not interacting with Radon by mistake.

Further reading:
Radon: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radon
Radium: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radium
Osha.gov: http://www.osha.gov/dts/chemicalsampling/data/CH_265469.html
EPA.gov http://www.epa.gov/radon/pubs/physic.html