In January of this year I ordered a free radon test kit from the SC Dept. of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC).
Radon is an odorless, naturally occurring radioactive gas that causes lung cancer. It is created by the breakdown of uranium deep within our soil.
According to the EPA, radon may be responsible for over 21,000 lung cancer deaths each year in the United States.
Government agencies in both North Carolina and South Carolina offer testing kits for residents. The South Carolina kits are free, while North Carolina testing supplies are just over $5.00. Radon test kits can cost $15 or more if purchased from a home improvement store or directly from a testing company.
It was pleasing to discover that the testing laboratory used by SC is located in nearby Mills River, North Carolina, rather than some distant state.
Pursuant to the instructions, the test kit was set up in my office, since that is the room I frequent most often while at home.
Five days later, I sealed the testing kit and mailed it to the laboratory.
While waiting for the results, I reviewed several websites about radon gas. It seems that upstate South Carolina and western North Carolina have the greatest incidences of high radon readings in the Carolinas. On the map below, green indicates low-levels of radon found by testing.
All other colors indicate elevated radon levels that pose a higher risk to humans. (source: Radon.com)
The following facts about radon levels are from the Radon.com website:
- A family whose home has radon levels of 4 pCi/L is exposed to approximately 35 times as much radiation as the Nuclear Regulatory Commission would allow if that family was standing next to the fence of a radioactive waste site.
- An elementary school student that spends 8 hours per day and 180 days per year in a classroom with 4 pCi/L of radon will receive nearly 10 times as much radiation as the Nuclear Regulatory Commission allows at the edge of a nuclear power plant.
- Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer.
According to all the data I reviewed, there is really no “acceptable” level of radon other than zero.
Radon levels above 4pCI/L (pico curies per liter) are dangerously high. Professional radon mitigation companies can suggest repairs that will help reduce radon levels.
(It should be noted that the results are also reported to SC DHEC for statistical and scientific analyses.)
Information about radon gas has been part of required training for licensed real estate agents in the Carolinas for several years. However, the general public hears little about this deadly gas. Perhaps it is time we helped spread the word. Provide the links below to your friends and family, and encourage them to take advantage of the free and reduced cost test kits.
SC DHEC: Any home can have a radon gas problem. The only way to determine if your home is trapping radon is to test.