Radon is a colorless, odorless and tasteless gas produced by the natural breakdown of uranium in soil and earth. The gas is radioactive and the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States.
Radon escapes the earth and dissipates harmlessly in open air. Unfortunately, radon also seeps into homes through their foundations. Trapped in the house, radon can accumulate to dangerous levels. Radon can affect any home, anywhere in the country.
Windows and Radon
Easy-to-use radon tests are commercially available. Test results of over 4 picocuries per liter are dangerously high. Levels of less than 4 pCi/L are still a risk, especially if you smoke.
Installing a radon reduction system is the most effective means of controlling radon levels. As a temporary solution, however, you can reduce radon levels simply by opening windows.
Windows and Radon
Opening windows improves air circulation and ventilation, helping move radon out of the house and mixing radon-free outside air with indoor air.
Make sure all your basement windows are open. Homes tend to have lower air pressure than their surroundings, which draws radon into the basement. Opening basement windows helps reduce negative air pressure, diluting radon with clean outdoor air.
Running a window fan in a basement window reduces radon levels, but only if the fan blows air into the basement. A fan blowing air out of the basement increases negative pressure, which can actually increase radon levels.
A Temporary Solution
While natural ventilation reduces radon quite effectively, opening windows is considered a temporary solution. Once windows close, radon levels increase to previous levels within 12 hours, and eventually most people have to close their windows.
Winter conditions, for instance, make open windows an impossibility as temperatures drop. At the least, your heating bill would skyrocket to astronomical proportions, never mind the danger of burst pipes and other cold-related damage.
Security is also a serious issue. Leaving your basement windows open 24 / 7, as you can imagine, is an open invitation to burglars.
As a long-term solution, opening windows to reduce radon levels isn’t feasible. In the short-term, however, open windows reduce radon so you can safely live in your home until you install a permanent solution.