Frequently Asked Questions
What is radon?
Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas that comes from the breakdown of uranium in rocks and soil. It tasteless, odorless and colorless. It escapes easily from the ground and decays further, releasing more radioactive particles. Prolonged exposure to Radon can cause lung cancer.
How do I become exposed to radon?
Radon comes up through the soil and rocks surrounding your home. It can seep through the cracks in concrete walls and floors, floor drains, crawl spaces, and hollow-block walls into your home. Radon can also enter your home through your water supply. Luckily, in Iowa, water is not considered a major health threat and pathway for radon into a home.
What are the dangers of radon?
Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States, causing as many as 20,000 deaths annually. Numerous studies are being conducted to find out if radon causes other kinds of cancer as well.
Why should I test my home for radon?
Radon has always existed, but it wasn’t until the 1980s that dangerous radon levels were noted inside U.S. homes. Congress recognized the consequences of radon and passed legislation in October 1988 establishing a national goal that indoor radon levels should not exceed outdoor radon levels.
What are the symptoms of breathing radon?
There are no noticeable symptoms such as a headache or an upset stomach to indicate that radon is present. Symptoms will appear only after lung cancer has developed, which may take several years.
How does radon cause lung cancer?
Smoking isn’t the only way you can develop lung cancer, and radon affects people of all ages. Radon decays, forming solid radioactive particles which attach to dust particles. These radon-decay products are what actually damage the lungs. The radioactive particles become lodged in the lungs when inhaled. As the particles decay, they release bursts of energy that can penetrate and damage sensitive lung tissue. The damaged tissue has the potential to develop into lung cancer. You can click here to read the real-life story of Gail Orcutt, an Iowa woman diagnosed with lung cancer after exposure to radon gas. She is still fighting for her health to this day.
What evidence is there that radon causes lung cancer?
Extensive studies of thousands of uranium and other underground minerals have been carried out for over 50 years in five nations, including the United States. These studies provide convincing evidence that exposure to radon and its decay products are associated with an increase in lung cancer. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that 14,000 to 21,500 Americans die each year from radon exposure. Radon is responsible for over half of most Iowan’s radiation exposure each year. Radon exposure is also considered to be the leading cause of lung cancer in nonsmokers.
Is there a relationship between smoking and radon in causing lung cancer?
Yes. A 1988 report by the National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences found that smokers exposed to radon increase their risk of lung cancer by 10 or more times in comparison to non-smokers.
How do I know if I have radon in my house?
Testing with an easy-to-use, inexpensive test kit is the only way to find out if you have radon in your home.
If I have a radon problem, can it be corrected?
Yes. While in some cases the problem can be treated by the homeowner, the use of trained and certified personnel should always be considered so you can be sure the problem is fully taken care of. The Department of Public Health can send you a list of people authorized to correct radon problems, like our company.
Will my neighbor’s radon measurement indicated whether I have a radon problem?
No. Radon levels vary from house to house. Every Iowa home should be checked for radon regardless.
How can I get a reliable radon test kit?
Kits can be purchased for about $20 through the mail, hardware stores, or other outlets. The Iowa Department of Health has a list of certified laboratories and radon specialists from whom you may order a radon test kit, or you can call the Iowa Air Coalition at (800) 206-7818 to order a radon test kit.
For all your radon in Iowa needs, whether it be testing or mitigation, call AmeriServ today! We can help you keep your family safe and healthy.