According to the EPA, radon gas is the second leading cause of lung cancer. Radon is a radioactive gas that is odorless and colorless. It comes from the decay of small amounts of uranium that is naturally occurring in the soil located under the house. The radon gas collects in the house and the concentration increases; the very things that save us money with energy (air sealing and insulation) can cause high radon levels. Fortunately it is easy to reduce the level of radon to acceptable levels for about $750-1200. Myths about radon abound, for example: houses without basements are not a problem; there is no need to test a house with a walkout basement. Yes, these are contributing factors to the radon concentration in the house, but the biggest contributor by far is what is in the soil under the house. In our testing, we have detected high radon levels in many slab-on-grade houses and houses with walkout basements.
Mold exists in every house. The question is what is the source and is it a concern. If the mold inside the house is similar in type and amount to the molds naturally occurring outside, then that is considered normal. Unusual mold species or high levels inside the house when compared to the outside are normally caused by moisture from some source. This is most commonly seen in homes that have a problem with moisture in the basement. Mold testing typically involves swab and air testing. If one sees visible evidence of mold, a swab (looks like an large cotton swab) can be used to take a sample from one-square inch of the material. In the lab, an industrial hygienist looks at the swab and can qualitatively identify the type of mold. A swab does not provide any quantitative information about the mold. An air test is used to determine what is in the air that you are breathing. A 150-liter air sample is filtered and the mold spores deposited on a microscope slide. The lab analyzes the slide and determines the number of spores per cubic meter of air for each species. This information is then compared with the mold levels outside. For this reason, an air sample requires at least two samples: one inside and one outside.