We're all technically exposed to small amounts of radon on a regular basis, but prolonged exposure to elevated levels can have major health implications for you and your loved ones.
first things first: what is radon?
It might sound scary and somewhat foreign to you, but radon is actually a naturally occurring, radioactive gas that can be found in rocks and soil everywhere. And because radon is in the soil, it can end up in the air we breathe and even in drinking water from lakes and rivers (usually in miniscule amounts).
Radon, which is odorless and colorless, forms when uranium breaks down into radium, which then releases radon gas. This invisible gas becomes a problem when it accumulates to high levels in your home's air, especially because there are no signs of its presence, unlike carbon monoxide.
Long-term exposure to radon can cause lung cancer, and it's actually the second-leading cause of the disease in the U.S. behind smoking cigarettes.
Is there a safe radon level?
Radon is so prevalent that the vast majority of homes will test for some level of it. In fact, 1 in 15 U.S. homes (or about 6 percent) has higher-than-average indoor radon levels.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends you take action if the levels in your home test higher than 4 picocuries per liter (pCi/L). For comparison's sake, the average radon level in the air outside is 0.4 pCi/L. When professionals are hired to mitigate radon, they aim for 2 pCi/L or lower.
homeowners insurance and radon remediation
Most homeowners insurance policies don't provide coverage for radon testing or remediation expenses. While home insurance is designed to financially protect you from sudden and unexpected perils such as fire or theft, it typically won't cover things that can be considered related to home maintenance like radon testing and mitigation.
Testing radon levels can be pretty simple — there are plenty of affordable DIY kits to choose from at your local hardware store, or you can always hire a pro to come out and test your place.
If high levels are detected and mitigation efforts are performed, it's generally recommended that you retest your home both immediately after the mitigation process and every 2 years thereafter.
When buying a new home, your home's radon levels are usually tested prior to your purchasing it.
If you're an Esurance policyholder and have questions regarding your current coverage, feel free to give us a call at 1-800-ESURANCE (1-800-378-7262). Our licensed agents are here to help at these times.
how to mitigate radon
Reducing the amount of radon in your home requires more than simply patching up any cracks and holes in the foundation (though that is one step in the process).
Since remediating radon requires special skills and very specific knowledge about how to work with your home's particular structure, the EPA advises that you hire a state- or nationally-certified contractor to install a mitigation system. Without the proper skillset or equipment, you could actually increase radon levels in your place or create other hazards by mistake.
Does homeowners insurance cover asbestos removal?
Another carcinogen that may be lurking in your home, asbestos is serious business. Read more about whether home insurance can help.
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