Written by: Douglas Kaup

January is Radon Awareness Month, making it a good time to share some facts about radon in western Pennsylvania.  Radon comes from the breakdown of trace amounts of uranium in our soil.  It is a gas it moves up into our homes where it becomes trapped, and presents a danger to us in the form of lung cancer.  Even at levels below the recommend remediation level of 4 pCi/L radon can still be dangerous; however a radon level of 0 pCi/L is considered impossible to achieve through modern remediation technology.

Pennsylvania radon levels are high compared to other states.  According to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), 43% of the homes in Allegheny County are high in radon, along with 51% in Butler and 58% in Beaver.  Because of the high levels of Radon in Pennsylvania, lung cancer diagnosis is usually found later in the disease progression.

What can you do?  Test your home.  Licensed Measurement Technologists can be found on the state DEP web side.  Short-term self-test kits can be purchased through Breathe Pennsylvania. 

Additionally, when you buy a home make sure it is tested.  You cannot be forced to buy a home with high radon in Pennsylvania.  It is a great opportunity to have a home remediated before you move in.  Also, when you are selling a home make sure testing protocols are followed.  If your home radon level is high and you don’t properly remediate then you are potentially putting someone’s health in danger, and could inadvertently raise radon levels in your home. It is also worth knowing that tampering with an ongoing radon test is illegal. 

In the end radon can be remediated, and doing so not only benefits present owners, but future ones as well.