It is not uncommon to find radon in basement areas, but this can also mean a much more dangerous problem. Radon in the basement can quickly become dangerous, as radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer. Radon is a radioactive gas that naturally occurs in the environment and is normally harmless, as our bodies have adapted to accept it. When radon is in a basement or other enclosed area is when it can begin to build up, and when this happens, you have a problem. It will go from normal levels to very high levels of radiation. The article below will explain some of the main causes of radon in a basement environment.
1. Natural Stone Foundation
Older homes are often built on a foundation made out of natural stones like granite, limestone and other quarry rocks. These stones are formed together using concrete or other materials. Radon gas is created when certain rocks begin to decompose and erode. One such stone that has trace amounts of uranium is granite. If your natural stone foundation contains granite, then as it decomposes, the radon can enter the basement.
The dirt around us is essentially decomposed animal matter, rocks, twigs, trees and a myriad of other things. The topsoil is tilled and fairly fine, but as you get deeper, you begin to hit clay and rock sub-layers. This is the case when excavating the ground for your basement. You will be digging fairly deep, and the soil you uncover will have higher concentrations of other chemicals. Once these elements erode and change over the years, they will create radon. Basement floors are often directly on top of these deposits, and the gas has a way of being able to get inside with minimal effort due to the porous nature of concrete.
3. Ground Water
Water that has no natural movement will eventually become stagnant. When this happens, there are many biological organisms that grow and die, which create gasses. When these gasses begin to mingle with the surrounding soil and rock, radon gas can form. This can create radon in basement environments, as it will begin to build to the point where it needs to escape.
Under your home can be large deposits of rocks that contain granite and other substances like trace amounts of uranium. Once these rocks begin to erode due to the pressure of the ground, radon gas can form. As with any gas, the pressure will build, and it will need to escape. Up is the only logical way that gas can go, which, incidentally, is toward your basement floor.
5. Cracks in Concrete Floors
It is important that you inspect your basement regularly for cracks and holes. Your home will settle over time, and concrete is not pliable, so it will crack. When the floor is displaced, it creates an open area for radon gas from below to make its way inside your basement. Radon basement detectors and mitigation systems can help lessen radon in the basement.