Radon and You
Test your home!
Radon is a cancer-causing radioactive gas.
You can’t see it, smell it, or taste it but radon is estimated to cause well over 20,000 deaths each year (more deaths than melanoma or drunk driving).
Why? Because when you breathe in radon gas over a period of time, you can get lung cancer. The more radon you are exposed to, and the longer the exposure, the greater the risk of eventually developing lung cancer.
The U.S. Surgeon General, American Lung Association, World Health Organization, and many others have warned that radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer today.
It is 5 to 6 times more dangerous to your lungs than secondhand smoke. If you smoke and your home has elevated radon levels, your risk of lung cancer is especially high.
The U.S. EPA estimates that nearly 1 out of every 15 homes has elevated radon levels.
Radon problems may be more common in some geographic areas, but any home can have high radon.
Schools, day care facilities, and workplaces can also have a radon problem. Ask whether they have been tested.
Radon can be found everywhere and in any home new or old, well sealed or drafty, with or without a basement.
Radon gas comes from the natural (radioactive) breakdown of uranium in soil, rock, and water and gets into the air you breathe. It can enter any type of building, including homes, offices, and schools.
But you and your family are most likely to receive your greatest exposure at home, where you spend most of your time.
How does Radon get in to your Home?
Radon gas typically moves up through the ground and into your home through cracks in floors or walls, joints, gaps around pipes and other holes or cavities in the walls or foundation. Radon can enter the home even when no visible cracks exist. Your home traps radon inside, where it can build up. Radon can also enter the home through well water. In some rare cases, building materials may be a source of radon gas.
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommendations:
- Fix your home if the radon level is 4 pCi/L (picoCuries per Liter) or higher.
- Consider fixing your home when radon levels are between 2 pCi/L and 4 pCi/L (because there is no safe level of radon).
- In addition, due to normal fluctuations in radon levels, you should retest your home every 2 years.
Radon in Well Water:
Recommendations vary from state-to-state for radon in water, with many states providing no recommendation action level. However, EPA has developed a propose regulation to reduce radon in drinking water. As a result of that regulation, the action level for radon in private well water will likely be 4,000 pCi/L.
Fixing a Radon Problem
Reducing radon levels can be easy and relatively inexpensive. The first step is to hire a certified radon contractor (mitigator). Be sure that you or a testing professional retest the radon level after a radon mitigation system is installed.
Radon in Air:
For most homes, the mitigator will perform a diagnostic evaluation, seal cracks, and install an active soil depressurization (ASD) system.
An ASD system changes air pressure beneath your home and then,through the use of a radon fan, draws out the radon gas and safely vents it above the roofline.
Radon in Well Water:
The two most commonly used types of waterborne radon reduction systems are aeration and granular activated carbon (GAC).
The radon level is a primary factor in choosing between these two systems.
Protect yourself and your family. Test your home.
The only way to know whether your home has elevated radon is to test it.
For More Information
EPA Radon Website
EPA’s radon page includes links
to publications, hotlines, private
proficiency programs and more.
EPA Regional Offices
Check the above website for a listing of
your EPA regional office.