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Is My Home Toxic? What Should I Test For?

Raise Your Radon IQ

What toxin is odorless, tasteless, invisible, and potentially deadly, and living in my house?

In this article, we will cover the 4 major toxins that are potentially hiding in your home and how to test and remove them.

Four Household Toxins to Test for Now

Environmental toxins in the home to be aware of, test for, and remove.

Radon.

Radon is detectable in every home and workplace. Approximately,  1 in every 15 homes tested for radon has what is considered to be an elevated radon level. Radon gas is a ubiquitous element found in rock and soil and is produced from the natural radioactive decay of uranium. Radon escapes from the ground into the air through cracks or breaks in your foundation.

The Map of Radon Zones was developed in 1993 to identify areas of the U.S. with the potential for elevated indoor radon levels. The following map depicts the radon levels in Kansas and Missouri.

Kansas City Radon Zone Maps

The EPA advises mitigation or remediation if your home levels test higher than 4pCi/L. Radon testing is easy and the only way to find out if you have elevated radon levels in your home. Since radon is odorless, tasteless, and invisible, special testing equipment is needed to detect it.

Action steps to remove radon from your home or workplace:
  1. Test your home for radon. The first step is to test your home for radon. This can be done with a home test kit or you can hire a certified radon measurement technician in your area. Certified Radon is a Kansas City-based radon testing & mitigation company that offers affordable and accurate residential radon testing & commercial radon testing. The minimum test period for a radon test done by a licensed radon technician is two days (48 hours) and results are usually available immediately or within a couple of hours after completion of the test.
  2. Reduce the radon levels if elevated. If your home has elevated levels above 4pCi/L, hire a licensed, certified, accredited radon mitigation professional to install a radon mitigation system in your home.

Water Contaminants & Groundwater Pollution.

Unknowingly, we ingest a host of biological and chemical contaminants every day in our drinking water. Chemicals and/or microorganisms found in acids, pesticides, industrial wastes, or animal byproducts can get into the ground and surface water. Contaminated water can cause harm to humans, pets, and plants. Private wells are especially susceptible to these toxins.

You can find more information about the following commonly found contaminants, their sources, and their possible human health impacts on the EPA website.

  • Microorganisms include bacteria, viruses, and parasites.
  • Nitrate and nitrite are present in chemical fertilizers, human sewage, and animal waste and fertilizers.
  • Heavy metals can leach into drinking water from household plumbing and service lines, mining operations, petroleum refineries, electronics manufacturers, municipal waste disposal, cement plants, and natural mineral deposits. 
  • Organic chemicals are found in many household products and are used widely in agriculture and industry.
  • Radionuclides are radioactive forms of elements such as uranium and radium. 
  • Fluoride can be present in many aquifers and can be found in private wells.
Action steps to remove contaminants from your drinking water:
  1. Get your water tested. Often county health departments will help you test for bacteria or nitrates. If not, you can have your water tested by a state-certified laboratory. You can find one in your area by calling the Safe Drinking Water Hotline at 800-426-4791 or visiting www.epa.gov/safewater/labs.
  2. Add a filtration system. Filtration can remove a wide variety of contaminants. Here is a list of water filtration systems that can be purchased from $35 to $200.

Poor Indoor Air Quality.

Ever hear your local weather forecast the air quality index for the day? The Air Quality Index, or AQI, is the system used to warn the public when air pollution is dangerous. Clean air is essential for healthy lungs. In more than 800 counties across the nation, air pollution levels are measured daily and ranked on a scale of 0 for perfect air all the way up to 500 for air pollution levels that pose an immediate danger to the public.

The indoor air you breathe can be hazardous to your health without any telltale signs. Indoor air can be even more polluted than the air outdoors.

The American Lung Association is an amazing resource for learning more about air quality and how it affects your and your family’s health.

Certified Radon is a proud partner & sponsor of the American Lung Association

What does the EPA identify as the most common types of pollutants found in homes, schools, and the workplace?

  • Radon
  • Secondhand Smoke
  • Combustion Pollutants
  • Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)
  • Molds
Action steps to improve air quality in your home or workplace:
  1. Conduct an air quality test. Performing indoor air testing will provide you with the right information and insights to make your IAQ improvement plan more directed and efficient. Air quality tests include checking humidity levels, airflow, ventilation, mold growth, odors, and water damage. SafeWise lists some air quality testing systems here.
  2. DIY air quality improvements.
    • Change your AC filter.
    • Clean your air ducts.
    • Utilize cooking vents.
    • Control humidity in your home.
    • Buy indoor plants for your home.
    • Use carbon monoxide alarms.

Lead.

The U.S. government banned lead-based paints for use in housing & commercial buildings in 1978. A good rule of thumb is that if your home was built before 1978, it may contain some lead-based paint.

Action steps to test for lead in your home or workplace:
  1. Test your home for lead paint. You can use a 3M LeadCheck Swab (found at most hardware stores) to do this; be sure you swab any children’s products and imported goods.
  2. Conduct a lead risk assessment by a certified inspector before any home remodel.

How do you Know if a House is Toxic?

Hiring a professional to test your home for radon, water contaminants, poor indoor air quality, and lead is a great start.

Certified Radon is Kansas City’s most trusted Radon Testing & Mitigation company. We provide affordable home radon testing & free estimates for radon removal & remediation.

Questions? Call one of our certified radon professionals at 816.587.3500.