Posts

Radon in Florida

Many people think that radon is only in the northern states that have rocky terrain, and along mountain lines in the north and east.  Others think that only homes that have basements have radon.  However, that is not true.  Radon comes from the breakdown of Uranium in the soil and is an odorless gas that cannot be seen or smelled.  In Florida, we have radon as well.  Even though this chart looks like there isn’t much in Florida, there really is and testing needs to be done.  In fact, 1 in 5 residences in Florida has high levels of radon.

Let’s take a look at why this is important, how the radon gets in, symptoms associated with radon, radon in Florida, the problems with radon, and how to fix it.

Why This is Important

This is important because radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the U.S., following smoking.  Unfortunately, it is not talked about often so people don’t know to protect themselves.  Did you know that one in five homes tested in Florida have elevated levels of radon that are above 4 pCi/L? 

This is not just in homes but also in buildings, high-rise condominiums, and manufactured homes.  The average level is 1.3 pCi/L and anything between 1 and 3 is considered low. Even though the northern rocky states tend to have radon in the basement, here in Florida, it is often found in high rise apartment buildings. This is because we don’t have basements in our state.

On the map, you can see that there are high levels in Western, Central, and Southeastern Florida.  This map shows the different zones.  Regardless of the zone, testing for radon is recommended for all homes.

How Radon in Florida Gets into Homes, Buildings, and Condos

How Radon in Florida Gets into Homes, Buildings, and Condos

Radium is naturally occurring and found in most soils and radon comes from the radioactive breakdown of the radium. Then, if there are small openings in the buildings at the foundation, the gas enters and becomes trapped inside.  Thus creating higher levels of radon than what is outside. It can also come from aggregate that was contaminated when your home was built. Negative air pressure forces the gas into the home, becomes trapped, and again builds up. Another place it can be found is in the well water. When the well water comes out in the home via the shower etc., it can make the radon levels higher in the home.

Some people think that if you open the windows, the radon will escape.  Unfortunately, that is not true as the gas stays in the home and professional mitigation is required.

Symptoms Associated with Radon

There are some symptoms associated with radon in the home such as shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, tightening of the chest, hoarseness, trouble swallowing, and weight loss.  These are all good reasons to test for radon and find out if it is the culprit in your home or if it is another issue.  Unfortunately, radon also leads to lung cancer so testing for it is very important.

Why test for radon in Florida
Radon Detector

Why Test for Radon in Florida

It doesn’t matter where you live in the U.S., your home could have high levels of radon and need mitigation to lower them. Hiring a certified testing company to perform the test is essential.

Cost of the Radon Test

Depending on what is involved and the area of the country you live in, the test by a professional range from $200 to $450 and more. Contact the professional to get an estimate so you are prepared for the amount.

Length of Radon Tests

Radon tests can range from a few days to 90 days depending on the test and company.  Contact a company close to you and get an estimate of the length of time so you can plan for it.

Selling, buying, or building a home.

Selling, Buying, or Building a Home

The EPA recommends that if you are selling a home to have a radon test done before it goes on the market.  This can be a key selling point.  If you find out the levels are high, you can have it fixed and then put it on the market.

If you are buying a home, ask about radon testing on the home (page 9 of the guide) so you know what the levels are.  Perhaps you are building a home? Then find out if adding radon-resistant techniques is possible.  They will also help your home to be more energy-efficient. 

Radon Resistant Features

Adding these features to homes in the building process can make it more radon resistant.

1. Gas permeable layers can be applied between the slab and the flooring to allow the gas to move freely.

2. Plastic sheeting- goes on top of the gas permeable layer and under the slab and helps prevent the gas from the soil from going into the home.

3. Sealing and Caulking- this is on all areas that are open on the foundation and walls to reduce the gas from the soil finding its way into the home.

4. Vent pipe- this is a 3 to 4 inch PVC pipe installed on the gas permeable layer and goes through the house and out of the roof, allowing the gases to safely vent outdoors.

5. Vent fan- The purpose of the vent fan is to get the air out of the home.

What to Do If the Levels Are High

If the levels are high, don’t fret.  A professional can mitigate your home.

What does this mean?  Well, they can lower the levels by doing a few things.  Depending on the type of home you have; basement, slab on grade, or crawlspace foundation homes, will determine how the radon is fixed.  They can also seal, pressurize the room or home, and use a heat recovery ventilator (HRV). 

When to Call a Professional About Radon in Florida

Call a professional if you are concerned about the levels of radon in your home. Also, if you need testing on a home, or building or just have questions.

Conclusion

Radon is in every state in the U.S. The good news is mitigation can be done when high levels are found in a home or building.  The goal of testing is to help residents, homeowners, and those who use that space to hopefully avoid lung cancer. The testing can also help find the high levels early and start mitigation. Professionals can administer Radon and sometimes take only a few days to get the results back. Do you have questions or need a radon test done? Contact us or leave your question below and we can help!