What is Radon – Atlanta, Georgia

Radon is a naturally occurring chemical element found in the environment. At the normal range of the Earth’s temperatures, radon is in a gaseous form that cannot be seen, tasted or smelled. Most homes have some level of radon gas in them, not just in Atlanta, Georgia, but also throughout the world.

Measuring Radon Gas

Atlanta RadonA unit of measurement called picoCuries per liter is used for describing radon gas levels. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) establishes guidelines for safe levels of radon in Atlanta and throughout the rest of the United States. As long as radon gas levels remain equal to or less than 4.0 picoCuries per liter, the EPA usually does not recommend taking any action. At higher levels, radon gas has the potential to cause health problems and needs to be mitigated to ensure that your home is safe.

In cities throughout Georgia, including Atlanta, it is not uncommon to find elevated levels of radon gas due to large deposits of uranium in the soil. Uranium contains radium, the primary source of radon in the environment. As radium breaks down in the soil, houses in Atlanta become filled with the emitted radon gas.

Radon gas can enter homes in Atlanta through a variety of means. Cracks in concrete slabs and blocks and spaces between laid brick can allow radon gas to seep into living spaces. Open sumps and crawlspaces and loose pipefittings can also allow radon gas to leak into houses in the Atlanta area, leading to decreased air quality. Homes with live-in basements in Atlanta are also more likely to have elevated radon levels.

Atlanta Deemed High Radon Potential Zone

Atlanta and the surrounding areas in Fulton County lie in an area that the EPA has deemed a “High Radon Potential Zone.” A private radon gas monitoring company tested radon levels throughout Georgia to identify places where residents should particularly be concerned about radon. The company concluded that 16 percent of homes in Atlanta and surrounding Fulton County had radon gas levels above the EPA’s recommended action level.

Health Concerns

Breathing in air contaminated with elevated levels of radon gas can cause permanent damage to the lungs. Among nonsmokers, radon gas is the number one cause of lung cancer throughout Atlanta and the rest of the United States, cautions the EPA. Radon is also the second leading cause of lung cancer in smokers. Atlanta residents at a high risk for lung cancer due to other health problems or their family histories are particularly susceptible to the effects of radon gas.

Health problems from exposure to excessive levels of radon gas do not happen overnight. Homeowners in Atlanta can purchase kits to test the air quality in their own homes by visiting any of the four University of Georgia County Extension offices in Fulton County. Kits are also available for purchase from the University of Georgia through the US mail. Using one of these tests is the first step toward mitigating the amount of radon gas in your home.