Another fortunate for us is that we just moved into the house a few weeks ago which means we haven't been exposed very long. Many of the people in the neighborhood have lived here and have been exposed for years. Radon is a gas which you can't see or smell similar to carbon monoxide. The difference with Radon is that it's a radioactive gas and it's one of the leading causes of lung cancer. It comes from the natural breakdown of uranium in rocks in the ground under your house and it usually comes up from your basement. If your house was built on ledge and you have cracks in your basement floor and an enclosed basement you're usually more at risk. We had all of the above which of course led to our positive test but keep in mind these are not the only factors. You don't have to have ledge under your house to have Radon and you don't have to have cracks in your basement. These are just reasons why you could be more at risk. You could still have radon without these so it's important to check (test) if you don't know.
When we bought our house we didn't think to much of radon because a) we didn't know a lot about it and b) we hadn't been informed. To give you a few more FAQ's about it though; 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, (25 mrem limit, 800 mrem exposure). 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, (25 mrem limit, 200 mrem exposure). The guy we worked with who is certified in Radon Mitigation is also certified in Asbestos removal. He explained that if you're going to buy a house and you see Asbestos in the basement your immediately going to say "oh, we need that removed." He explained that on a broad scale there are about 10,000 asbestos deaths a year in the United States compared to 22,000 caused by Radon. It came up because of the lack of understanding people have on the topic. Because you can't see or smell it, people tend to write it off where as with something like Asbestos, because it's a visible problem people tend to worry more about it.
The reason I write this post today is because I want to inform you about Radon! If you don't know if it's in your house, test for it! Test kits are really cheap at your local hardware store and sometimes you can even get them free from your state. We did the 48 hour test which is quick and you can usually pick this up from someone who works in mitigation or your local hardware store. The free tests from the state are usually a more long term test and are sometimes considered more accurate. My view is this; if you have it you have it. I don't care how accurate it is in terms of what level you have it but that's just me. Mitigation systems don't cost a lot of money either. We paid about $1,800 to have ours installed and it's probably the best $1,800 we've ever spent. If you have kids and care about your own health, test for it. It could save a life.