It is debatable in some arenas whether radon gas has always been around, pooling like an unseen ghoul ready to damage health, or if it has seen a significant increase in recent years. Arguments exist on both sides of the aisle, and certainly radon gas has always been an issue in particular industries where exposure comes with the job, such as mining. Mine operations have had to monitor radon levels for many years and mostly been quiet about it, as other more immediate, deadly gas problems like carbon monoxide and sulfurous fumes have taken immediate attention away from those that creep up on people.
In areas of the country where fracking has become commonplace, researchers and scientists have found increased levels of radon consistently, especially in fields drawing from certain forms of shale. Shale is known to contain natural gas, and with the natural gas comes suspended radon. Using natural gas for fuel increases the released radioactive particle content into the ambient air from the radon inside homes and businesses where used.
It is known that radon counts increase in the outdoors exponentially in the summertime, and increase on the inside of homes in the winter. Part of this is due to the use of HVAC systems and the negative or positive pressure flow in a home through the venting system. Homes tend, especially in places like Colorado, to be pretty tightly sealed up during the winter. This allows denser radon gas to collect in places like wall spaces and subfloor air dams. Due to this natural fluctuation due to temperature and airflow, some critics argue there really is no need to be concerned with radon gas exposure, as it will “balance out”. Explain that to the 21,000 people a year who die of lung cancer directly attributable to radon gas exposure over long periods of time.
One thing for certain is that development can and does release or create more avenues of porosity and channels for radon to more easily move up through the earth and into whatever is above. Disturbed dirt and rock, dug out foundations, driven posts, and pillars, well shafts, all create flues for radon to easily work its way to the surface, or directly into the structure into which the pipe or support post passes. If that pipe happens to pass through any space the radon can leech into and settle, it is opportunistic and will do so, staying there pretty much until it dissipates over a long period of time while breaking down, or until stirred by some action into the local air column.
Our current methods of extracting crude oil from the ground obvious are having a negative effect on the control line for radon. It is imperative that people in places of high concentration of radium, uranium, some forms of shale and granite, and even limestone pay attention and monitor radon in their homes and businesses. If an unacceptable level appears, they need to contact a professional radon mitigation company to test and set up a system for dealing with the perpetrator before someone in the house becomes permanently sick. Colorado Springs has several certified radon contractors, but the one with the best reputation is Certified Radon Mitigation Pros. You can find them online.