What is Radon?
Radon is a naturally occurring gas that is the result of the breakdown of uranium found in soil. It is an odorless gas that you cannot taste. Additionally, it is colorless, radioactive, and can only be detected through a test. It is a cancer-causing gas, that according to the EPA, is responsible for over 20,000 deaths per year. This gas has been detected in homes and other buildings throughout the United States.
Where is it found?
Typically, this gas is found in igneous soil and rock such as granite. However, well water has been known to create an environment in which this cancer-causing gas has built up. Unfortunately, your home is also the perfect environment for this deadly gas to build up. In fact, your house is especially good at trapping the gas which prevents it from naturally dissipating into the air.
Why is Denver higher in radon gas levels?
Of course, you might be asking yourself why Denver is such hot spot. One reason is the granite. Granite is everywhere, but in Colorado it is what comprises much of the stone, bedrock, and mountains our residents and everyone else adores. Simply put, if large amounts of granite exist in the ground, emission levels will likely be high.
Your house versus your neighbor's house
Although Colorado is in the top zone and although it is in 50 percent of the homes, there are ways to mitigate the problem. Additionally, if your neighbor's home has this gas, yours likely does, too -- but not in every situation.
Differences in the underlying bedrock or level of granite can vary from property to property. In terms of windbreaks, a house exposed to the wind along the side where there are fewer windows or doors can lead to a type of vacuum that actually pulls more of this gas from the ground. Because the variables change from property to property, it is very important to contact a professional.
"How does radon gas get into my home?"
The negative pressure in your house draws in the gas from the soil around and under your foundation. An easy way to envision this process is to think of your house acting as a vacuum that sucks up the gas from the ground into your house, trapping it much like a vacuum bag traps dirt. The difference in temperatures between the air inside and outside of you house as well as any mechanical exhaust systems that remove air from your house create the negative pressure as well as the vacuuming effect.
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The main culprits
This dangerous gas can enter your house through a variety of ways, including such things as cracks in your foundation, flooring, and walls. It can enter your home via a sump-pit or an unsealed crawlspace. Because it is a heavy gas, the highest levels are typically found in basements and crawl spaces of homes. Individuals that spend extended periods of time in these locations are at a greater risk of being exposed to this harmful gas.