Check Your Lake Home for Radon

You can't taste it, smell it, touch it, or sense it in any way. But it may be present in your lake home. Radon is a radio active gas that occurs naturally as a decay product of radium. This gas is the number two leading cause of lung cancer in the states after smoking. It sneaks its way into your house through any opening such as sump pump crocks, floor drains, or even hairline cracks in your foundation.


If you haven't done so already, you should have your lake home tested for radon. You can buy a test kit at most of the big box home improvement stores or local hardware stores, or you can hire a home inspector or radon mitigation company to perform a test with high-tech equipment that tends to be much more accurate than the charcoal test kits bought over the counter. Tests are typically 40 hours long, and professionals with the electronic radon testing equipment usually can a sample every hour. 


The US EPA and Surgeon General strongly recommend taking further action when a homes radon test results are 4.0 pCi/l or greater. The concentration of radon in the home is measured in picocuries per liter of air (pCi/l). Cost is $120 per test.


What is a picocurie? The basis for the curie is the radioactivity of one gram of radium. Radium decays at a rate of about 2.2 trillion disintegrations (2.2×1012) per minute. A picocurie is one trillionth of a curie. Thus, a picocurie (abbreviated as pCi) represents 2.2 disintegrations per minute.


Radon levels less than 4.0 pCi/l still pose some risk and in many cases may be reduced. If the radon level in the home is between 2.0 and 4.0 pCi/l, the EPA still recommends that you consider fixing the home. The average
indoor radon level is estimated to be about 1.3 pCi/l; roughly 0.4 pCi/l of radon isnormally found in the outside air. The higher the home radon level, the greater the health risk. Even homes with very high radon levels can be reduced to below 4.0 pCi/l and many homes can be reduced to 2.0 pCi/l or less.


It is necessary to fix the home when a single test averages 4.0 pCi/l or more. It is a good idea to fix the home when a single test averages between 2.0 and 4.0 pCi/l. If a test result averages less than 4.0 pCi/l, it is recommended to confirm the low result by testing again at least every two years and whenever significant changes to the home structure or mechanical systems occur. Test during different seasons and different weather
conditions to reduce your risk of exposure.