Let’s begin with what radon is. Radon is an invisible, odorless, naturally occurring radioactive gas from decaying uranium, thorium, and radium. It breaks down in soil, rock, and water and enters the home through cracks in walls, tiles, pipes, and water supply. While you can’t see, smell, or taste radon, under a dangerous level of exposure, one might experience symptoms and diseases like:
- Persistent cough with blood
- Wheezing, hoarseness
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain with breathing difficulty
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
- Frequent infections such as bronchitis and pneumonia
- Pulmonary fibrosis
- Chronic interstitial pneumonia
- Respiratory lesions
Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the U.S. (after smoking). It is responsible for at least 21,000 lung cancer-related deaths each year (Copes 2007; EPA 2009a). If you are a miner or smoker, the risk of lung cancer from radon exposure will increase 10 to 20 times greater than nonsmokers. EPA and the U.S. Surgeon General recommend all Americans test their homes, schools, offices and other buildings for radon leakage.
Will An Air Purifier Help With Radon?
Yes, an air purifier with an activated carbon filter will help get rid of radon gases. It is scientifically proven to be the safest and most effective way of reducing toxins, gaseous chemical pollutants and odors. Air purifiers are also excellent at removing dust, mold, pollen, pet dander, bacteria, and viruses.
That said, you need a good carbon filter with high chemical absorption charcoal or granular activated carbon rather than opting for a thin carbon sheet. Quality matters. Additionally, air purifiers with ionizer technology would help attract radon gases by negatively-charged ions and pull them into the positively-charged carbon filter. Airflow delivery date and CADR also play a big role in ensuring radon gases are swiftly captured.
Keep in mind that an air purifier will not prevent radon gases from continuously leaking in. You will need to get down to the root cause of the problem and stop the inflow. If you are dealing with unresolved high radon levels leakage in a home, seek a licensed radon mitigator to assess the situation.
Do I Need Radon Mitigation?
It is estimated that 6 million homes in the United States are at dangerous radon levels above 4 picocuries per liter (pCi/L), far exceeding the remediation level the EPA recommends. If your home’s radon is at a dangerous level, we recommend going straight for a certified radon mitigator. By cutting off the sources of radon leakage, post-mitigation will reduce radon levels by >90%. Take note that radon mitigation costs vary from $500-1500 depending on the state and house conditions. It is not cheap, but there shouldn’t be a price tag on your health. Improving basement foundations, sealing the cracks, and fixing the water drainage help tremendously in the long run.
Can You Reduce Radon By Opening Windows?
Yes, good ventilation always helps, but it is not a sustainable solution. It will take ages to clear out all radon gases, and there could be a scenario where the amount of radon entering far exceeds outflowing. Furthermore, you will need to account for weather changes and seasonal factors like winter, when the windows stay shut. Not to mention by opening a window, you are letting in more outdoor pollutants flowing inside. Some airborne contaminants do not react well with radioactive gases.