What is radon?

Radon is an odorless, colorless, tasteless gas that is produced by naturally decaying uranium and radium. 

What are the health effects of radon?

Exposure to radon gas increases your risk of developing lung cancer. The EPA estimates that 21,000 lung cancer deaths each year in the United States are due to radon exposure, which makes it the second leading cause of lung cancer following smoking.

How does radon induce lung cancer?

Radon gas and its decay products in the air can be breathed into the lungs where they break down further and emit alpha particles. Alpha particles release a small burst of energy, which is absorbed by nearby lung tissue. This results in lung cell damage.

Is there a safe level of radon?

Your risk of developing lung cancer from radon depends on the concentration of radon in the air you breathe and the length of time you are exposed. While radon is common outdoors, it is diluted to very low levels and is not a concern. However, radon that enters an enclosed space, such as a home, can sometimes accumulate to high levels. EPA’s recommended action guideline level for radon is four Picocuries per liter of air (pCi/L). The average indoor level is estimated to be about 1.3 pCi/L; and 0.4 pCi/L of radon is found in the outside air.

Where can radon be found? Map of Upper Midwest Radon Concentrations

Radon is produced by naturally decaying uranium and radium. Uranium and radium are naturally found in soil and rock throughout the world. Radon is typically concentrated in areas with lots of granite, shale, phosphate, and pitchblende. Radon gas is drawn into homes or buildings through cracks in the foundation or slab and through unsealed pipes, sumps, drains, walls and other openings such as crawl spaces.

How do you find it?

To find out the quantity of radon in your home, you have to test your home for radon. The American Lung Association, the EPA, and the Surgeon General recommend testing all homes for radon. Testing for radon is simple and relatively inexpensive. There are two general tests for radon:

Short-Term: Depending on the device used, short term measurements last in duration from 48 hours to 90 days. The most common short-term tests are charcoal canisters, electret ion chamber and continuous monitors. Because radon levels tend to vary from day to day and season to season, short-term tests are less likely to measure your annual radon exposure.

Long-Term: Long-term tests remain in your home for more than 90 days. Alpha track and electret detectors are commonly used for this type of testing. A long-term test will give a more accurate annual average radon level than a short-term test for your home.



Test Your Home For Radon

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The only way to tell how much radon is in your home is to test for it. By testing your home for radon, you are taking a step toward a healthier indoor environment for you and your family. » More