What is Radon – Winston-Salem, North Carolina

What is Radon – Winston-Salem

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 in them, not just in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, but also throughout the world.

How Radon is Measured

A unit of measurement called picoCuries per liter is used for describing radon levels. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) establishes guidelines for safe levels of radon in Winston-Salem and throughout the rest of the United States. As long as radon 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 has the potential to cause health problems and needs to be mitigated to ensure that your home in Winston-Salem is safe for your family.

Radon in the North Carolina Areas

Winston-Salem RadonIn North Carolina, radon is found in areas of the western Piedmont region, like Winston-Salem, that have large deposits of gneiss, schist and granite rocks, which contain traces of uranium and radium. As they break down through natural erosion, these rocks release radon gas into the soil. Cracks in concrete slabs and blocks and spaces between brick walls then allow radon to seep into homes in Winston-Salem. In addition, water supplies that rest upon rocks containing quartz and granite may also carry high levels of radon gas.

The EPA establishes certain regions in the Untied States as “High Radon Potential Zones” based upon their geology. In North Carolina, the federally established zones all lie in the western portion of the state among the Blue Ridge Mountains. To protect the health of state residents, the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources conducts regular radon level tests of its own. These tests have revealed that certain North Carolina regions outside of the EPA’s established risk areas also have elevated radon levels. The greater Winston-Salem area and surrounding Forsyth County were among the regions identified by the department’s tests; on average, radon levels in the region were found to be above the recommended level of 4.0 picoCuries per liter.

Radon in The Air and Health Risks

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

Health problems from exposure to excessive levels of radon gas do not happen instantaneously. Homeowners in Winston-Salem can purchase home testing kits for radon levels at local hardware centers and home improvement stores. Finding out that your home has elevated radon levels is the first step toward eliminating the threat of this potentially deadly gas.