Radon is a chemical element, a gas that occurs naturally as the decay product of uranium. Uranium is a radioactive heavy metal occurring in igneous rock and soil throughout the world. It decays into a number of other elements including radium and lead. Radon has been considered by some health physicists to be the most naturally-occurring carcinogen on earth. It seeps from rocks and soils into basements and cracks in homes where it can accumulate to dangerous levels if proper preventive measures are not taken.
Radon may also seep into water supplies resulting in traces of radioactivity being found in drinking water. The National Academy of Sciences estimates that approximately 10,000 lung cancer deaths occur each year of indoor exposure to radon.
Testing for radon may be done by hiring a professional or by testing yourself. If you plan to do testing yourself, you should first consult with the EPA website at http://www.epa.gov. You can also purchase inexpensive test kits which are available online, through hardware stores, and via other retail outlets.
The dangers of living with high levels of radon in your home are that it may lead to lung cancer. The lifespan exposure can vary depending on the amount in your home and how many hours per day one spends there, but the best thing is to avoid inhaling it at all by keeping it low. The accepted action level for radon is 4 picocuries per liter (4 pCi/L). This is roughly equivalent to 200 Bq/m 3.
Most experts agree that the answer to this question is no. An increasing number of studies have found little or no correlation between homes with sump pumps and increased levels of Radon.
Dr. Robert Kornfeld, a professor of Geosciences at Washington University in St. Louis who has been collecting data on environmental impacts for over 30 years, explains why he feels confident about making that statement:
“In my own house, I have a sump pump running most of the time. The results indicate that there’s really no strong relationship between activities like using a sump pump and indoor Radon concentrations.”
While it may be true that some elevation in Radon levels in homes with sump pumps, scientists have found no direct cause-and-effect relationship between the two.
While there is no evidence that the use of sump pumps directly increases Radon levels in homes with sump pumps, it is still wise to check for Radon in your home. According to the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) website, “Radon can be found throughout our environment and comes from many different sources.” Whether or not you have a sump pump does not mean that Radon is present in your home. Radon levels can be minimized by simply improving ventilation and using a radon mitigation system, one of which is a sump-pump fan.