Protect your home from radon - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Protect your home from radon

by Brady Smith

CEDAR RAPIDS (KWWL) - Bob Sisneros, owner of Iowa Radon Mitigation Systems, is an expert on radon. It's a gas that's created when the radioactive element radium breaks down.

"Radon is in the soil, it's inert, it can't be smelled, and you can't taste it or see it," he said, as he was installing a radon protection system in a Cedar Rapids home Sunday.

It's just behind smoking as one of the leading causes of lung cancer in the nation. "There are over 20,000 deaths in the U.S. attributed to radon exposure every year."

The gas itself is measured in picocuries, or particles, per liter of air. Environmental Protection Agency standards require household radon levels to stay below 4 picocuries per liter.

Sisneros tested this Cedar Rapids home at 5.6 picocuries, though he's seen levels as high as 40.

"If there's any cracks or crevices in the foundation of the house, or in the cement floor, or even in the sump, radon is pushed and forced into the house," said Sisneros.

When that happens, he can provide a different path for the radon to escape safely into the atmosphere. "We'll drill a small hole through the cement and get down into the soil, and we'll start drawing air out through there."

That air is channeled through pipes that Sisneros installs, which lead to the outside of the home. There, he attaches a fan that runs 24 hours a day, creating a vacuum to draw out the gas. The fans are fairly cheap to run.

"It is equal to keeping a 60-watt lightbulb on."

If you haven't yet tested your home for radon, he strongly recommends it. Most radon testing kits cost less than $10, provided by the Department of Public Health. They can also be bought at hardware stores like Menards or The Home Depot.

Radon-proofing a home, however, is more costly. Sisneros says the national average for mitigating a property is about $1,200, but he says it can be done for less in some cases.

Online Reporter - Brady Smith

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