Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas. It is released during the natural decay of uranium, which is found in most rock and soil and its occurrence in the state is influenced primarily by geology. Although certain areas of the state are more likely to encounter radon problems than other areas, radon is a house-to-house issue. You may live in an area of low radon potential yet; your house can have elevated radon while your neighbor's house has no radon. Radon is odorless, invisible, and without taste, and cannot be detected with the human senses. The only way to detect it is to test for it.
Any home may have a radon problem from such sources as:
1. Cracks in solid floors
2. Construction joints
3. Cracks in walls
4. Gaps in suspended floors
5. Gaps around service pipes
6. Spaces inside walls
7. The water supply
Most often, the radon in your home's indoor air can come from two sources, the soil or your water supply. Compared to radon entering your home through water, radon entering your home through soil is usually a much larger risk. If you are concerned about radon and you have a private well, consider testing for radon in both air and water. By testing for radon in both air and water, the results could enable you to more completely assess the radon mitigation option(s) best suited to your situation. The devices and procedures for testing your home's water supply are different from those used for measuring radon in air. Generally, radon is not a problem with public drinking water systems because during the water treatment process aeration releases dissolved radon to the atmosphere. However, if the water supply is from a private well, radon levels could be unacceptably high. The recommendation is to test the well water if the air radon concentrations in the occupied dwelling are over 4pCi/l. If you have tested the air in your home and found a radon problem and your water comes from a private well, you should test the water.
EPA recommends that you know what the indoor radon level is in any home you consider buying. Ask the seller for their radon test results. If the home has a radon-reduction system, ask the seller for information they have about the system. If the home has not yet been tested, you should have the house tested. The EPA also recommends testing a home in the lowest level which is currently suitable for occupancy, since a buyer may choose to live in a lower area of the home than that used by the seller. If you are having a new home built, there are features that can be incorporated into your home during construction to reduce radon levels.
Exposure to radon increases your risk of developing lung cancer. As you breathe, radon enters your lungs and release small bursts of energy and particles that can damage lung tissue. Lung cancer may not occur for many years after exposure to radon. There are no short-term radon exposure symptoms that have ever been documented. You will not have any other bodily symptoms such as joint pain, stomach or intestinal problems, headaches, or rashes from short-term radon exposure at natural environmental levels (4 pCi/liter or less). Not everyone will develop lung cancer, but your risk of developing it increases as the level of radon and the time you are exposed increases. When exposure to radon is combined with smoking or inhaling someone else's smoke, the risk may increase dramatically. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), radon causes more cancer deaths than any other single pollutant except tobacco smoke. They estimate that in the United States as many as 20,000 lung cancer deaths each year may be caused by radon.
In some areas of Florida, 50% of the homes have excessive levels of radon. Most Floridians live on the floor where the concentrated radon gas enters the building. The Florida Department of Health, in conjunction with the local county public health units, is working to help Floridians protect themselves from radiation exposure from radon gas. Florida is aggressive in its policies attacking unnecessary radon exposure to the public and is in the forefront of consumer protection against radon. Radon measurement and reduction companies and personnel have been required to be certified since 1989. Florida also has a mandatory radon testing program for various public facilities, such as public and private schools, state licensed day care centers, and 24 hour care facilities such as nursing homes and hospitals.