Radon is a radioactive gas that occurs naturally with the breakdown of radium and uranium in soil and rock. Since radon is a gas, it easily works its way out of the ground and into homes through foundation cracks and holes. It can move into any space that allows for some air flow.
Even new homes that are well-sealed and houses without basements are at risk. Radon can even dissolve into a home’s water, allowing the release of radon gas through running water.
Once radon enters an enclosed space, like a home, it accumulates over time and radon levels can become elevated. With time, radon also continues to decay further into radon daughters, which are solids and cling to the surfaces of things such as dust. When contaminated dust is inhaled, radon daughters can stick to the inside of the lungs, damaging lung tissue and increasing the risk of lung cancer.
Since radon is colorless, odorless, tasteless, and otherwise undetectable by human senses, it must be tested for.
Homes with high levels of radon have been found in all Massachusetts counties. Most Western Mass communities have moderate to high radon levels, making radon testing almost a necessity.
When an unacceptable level of radon is discovered in a home, a specialist in radon mitigation is recommended. A mitigation specialist performs services that reduce the amount of radon in the air as much as possible. In some instances, radon can be reduced to extremely low levels.
Some new homes are even being constructed to include radon barriers.