VENICE (WWSB) - Radon is a silent killer. You can’t see it, smell it, or even taste it. It’s pretty much invisible, and gives humans absolutely no symptoms when you breathe it in.
“You have no idea that you have it unless you test for it,” said Kent Macci, the Environmental Program Consultant for the Florida Department of Health.
So where does this gas even come from? Well, it’s formed when uranium breaks down – uranium that occurs naturally in the soil. However, high levels can build up underneath homes and buildings and then seep inside of them.
“And it can’t escape, so the concentration continues to escalate,” Macci explained.
It could also come from the materials used to build your home.
“Radon is also used to make concrete materials: block, floor concrete – which a lot of homes have exterior block walls, your floors are concrete. Condos that are three, four floors could all imitate form that material as well, so it comes from different sources from concrete and the soil,” Gregg Zetzman, the owner of Radon Authority, told us.
It becomes present in the air through floor cracks and gaps, as well as service pipe gaps and your water supply.
The Florida Department of Health says that one in every five homes in Florida has high levels of radon, and the majority of people don’t even know they’re at risk because it’s not mandatory to test for it. Which is why it’s the leading cause of lung cancer for nonsmokers in the United States.
“At this point, we’re finding high levels pretty much throughout the county,” Macci says, “and that’s why we recommend strongly that people come in and get testing kits.”
Sarasota County gives away free testing kits that come with step-by-step instructions on how to set up the system to check the radon levels inside your home.
“It’s a simple test and it can be corrected, and it shouldn’t be overlooked by people when they’re either buying a home or in their own home,” Zetzman expressed.
“The only way to prevent radon from coming into your home is either before you build, you put in the prevention sub slab treatment beforehand or you test for it afterwards and mitigate it,” said Macci.
Radon can be present in any home, regardless of the age or type of home. A safe radon level measures 4 Pico curies, anything higher than that can be extremely harmful. However, once you see the results, on that same kit, there are some suggestions to start reducing those levels until you get the help to mitigate the gas completely.
“Ventilation is what is primarily used to reduce radon level. If you open your windows and doors, and you have a breeze like today coming through, it’ll help greatly bringing those levels down,” Zetzman explained.
The radon mitigation process to completely remove the gas from your home can take anywhere from a couple of days to a week, and costs about $3,000.
There are a few ways to mitigate radon, but the most common practice is to use a system called an active sub-slab depressurization which draws the radon gas out of the soils and cracks around the building, and seals them to create a barrier between the structure and the gas.
Radon Authority, which is the company featured in the video above, is a local business that specializes in testing and mitigating radon.