On Radon

This is a public service announcement.

When we were in the process of building our house 15 years ago, I came across a map of radon concentration in North Carolina that suggested we should be concerned about it.  I asked our builder about radon mitigation and his response was basically, what’s that?

I guess I chose to be preoccupied with other things, because I took his word for it, and we did nothing about radon when we built our house. But years later, I tested our house and found radon levels of 6 picocuries/liter downstairs, where my office is.  I know, 6 is just a number.  But 6 picocuries/liter is 50% higher than the “actionable” level suggested by the EPA and 50% higher than the level ruthlessly cited by real estate agents everywhere as the level that makes your home unsalable if breached, regardless of your own sense of peril.

So finally, I mustered the energy to clear out all the leftover construction materials that  our builders “helpfully” left behind in our crawl space, and I contacted a radon-basement specialist in our area (the only one, actually) and they properly and professionally sealed our crawl space and installed a radon exhaust fan, and the radon level in my office area dropped from 6.2 to 0.9 picocuries/liter (close to the environmental level).  I was amazed.

Folks in Wilmington and Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina, fear floods and hurricanes and many build their houses on pillars to ward off storm damage.  It is my guess that far fewer people in Western North Carolina protect themselves from radon damage, because it’s invisible, it’s not BREAKING NEWS on CNN, and it can cost a few thousand dollars upfront to install something that will help your family live a longer life.

I wish I had been more insistent with our builder.  What was wrong with me?

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