A radon fan is a device designed to mitigate and prevent the accumulation of radon gas within a home. Radon is a colorless, odorless, tasteless, and radioactive gas. As a carcinogen, it is feared that it may cause cancer, particularly lung cancer, if it is inhaled over long periods of time. It is a natural decay product of uranium, which is a very common element in the earth’s crust. In the 1980s, radon gas was recognized as a public health hazard, and public health warnings were issued in an effort to educate people about testing and mitigation methods.
Radon gas tends to be found in highest concentration in the lower levels of a building. It can even contaminate the water supply, if the house is attached to a well. The amount that accumulates within a particular domicile is dependent upon the amount of ventilation in the house, and concentrations can vary widely in different rooms.
In the United States, some of locations that have been found to have particularly high concentrations are Iowa and areas of the Appalachian Mountains in southwestern Pennsylvania. Iowa City has passed requirements that all new buildings must be radon resistant.
The first step when determining if a home has a radon gas problem is to test it. The tests are very simple and often inexpensive. One type of test has a collection unit that is hung in the lowest level of the living quarters for two to seven days. After the collection period is over, the test kit is sent to a laboratory for analysis. There are also kits that can test construction areas before a structure is placed built, to see if the site is prone to strong radon emissions.
If radon is detected in the home, it is often possible to mitigate the problem by altering the ventilation and installing a radon fan. A radon fan can control and ventilate the gas, and prevent it from accumulating to levels that may be dangerous to the inhabitants' health. Some cases may require a more complicated radon fan system that draws the radon out of the basement and ensures that all of the other areas of the home are well ventilated.
When a home has a crawl space area underneath it, rather than a basement, a radon fan exhaust system can be put under the building. A barrier should also be installed between the home and the crawl space, which can be as simple as a plastic sheet. These steps can help prevent the gas from building up in the home itself.