Many have probably heard of radon. It is a gas that is created by the radioactive decay of naturally occurring rock formations found in soils around Portland and beyond. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer after smoking, but many people do not know whether their homes are affected. CEP recommends every home in Oregon be tested for radon. Even small, sustained levels of radon exposure in your home can lead to adverse health impacts. Since it comes from the ground, it often permeates up into our homes. The amount of radon in our homes is a factor of its location and whether it has a pathway into the home. Some homes are perched right above a high concentration of radon, others have virtually none. There is no way of really knowing without testing, which is why we recommend testing your home.
If you discover radon, there are ways to reduce your exposure. You may have seen homes with a white pvc tube coming from underneath the home and terminating above the gutters. This is a depressurization system that is pulling air, and subsequently any radon emissions out from under your home to the outside. Combined with proper air sealing, insulation, and ventilation within the house, you bring your exposure back down to safe levels.
We often think of energy efficiency in terms of reducing our energy use and cost, because it is the easiest and best way to do so. There are other benefits too! Improving energy efficiency reduces the ability for poor outdoor air quality issues to enter your home. That is how it helps you live a safer and healthier life in your home.