Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas that can cause lung cancer. It is found in the soil and can enter your home through cracks and openings in the foundation or basement. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that one in 15 homes in the United States have radon levels that need to be reduced. Any home can have radon and the only way to know if you have a radon problem is to test for it.

If you discover high radon levels in your home, a radon mitigation system should be installed to reduce the amount of radon to a safer level. The prospect of finding the right company for the job may be daunting. Follow these tips to get the right solutions in place to keep your home safe from radon.

What Do Radon Test Results Mean?

Both short-term (2-7 days) and long-term (90+ days) radon test kits can be used to measure levels of radon present in your home. Both options are low-cost – typically under $30 – and easy to do yourself. Because home radon levels can fluctuate, long-term tests that give you an average reading over time tend to show more accurate results. Be sure to follow the instructions for your specific test explicitly. Once your test is complete, follow the instructions on how to mail your test to the lab for analysis. The test kit instructions should also specify when and how you may receive your results.

Radon levels are reported in picoCuries per liter (pCi/L) of air. The EPA urges anyone with radon levels above 4 pCi/L to take action by installing a mitigation system. Both the EPA and the American Lung Association recommend that mitigation be considered if levels are greater than 2 pCi/L.

Adapted from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the table below shows what to do if your test shows higher radon levels.

Radon LevelActions to Take
Higher than 4 pCi/L
  • If you used a short-term test: test again, using either a short- or long-term test. If you use another short-term test, calculate the average of the two results.
  • Contact a licensed and certified radon mitigation specialist to install a radon mitigation system if:
  • The average of two short-term tests is at or above 4 pCi/L
  • Results from a long-term test is at or above 4 pCi/L
  • Re-test after the system is installed to confirm radon levels are lower.
Between 2 pCi/L and 4 pCi/L
  • Consider installing a radon mitigation system.
  • Re-test after the system is installed to confirm radon levels are lower.
Lower than 2 pCi/L
  • No action needed.
  • Re-test at least every two years, or more often if you start living on a lower level of the home (e.g., if you convert your basement into an office or bedroom)

What Is a Radon Mitigation System?

A typical radon mitigation system consists of a vent pipe and fan. It works by continuously collecting radon gas from beneath the house’s foundation and venting it outdoors. Installation of a radon mitigation system typically does not require major changes or renovations to the home. Sealing cracks in the baseline floor and foundation is usually required because it makes the radon mitigation system more effective. The cost to install a radon mitigation system is comparable to other home repairs and upgrade projects, depending on location and the complexity of the system. Prices can start at about $1,200.

For new construction, you can incorporate radon-resistant features into your build. This may include gravel and plastic sheeting below the foundation, sealing of cracks and the installation of a vent pipe. Once these features are in place and the home is completely built, you should still test to ensure that your radon levels are safe.

How Do I Select a Radon Mitigation Specialist?

Before hiring someone to help with radon in your home, it is important to do some research and find a professional certified in radon mitigation. Using unqualified professionals may lead to faulty installation, which can cause property damage and even increase indoor radon levels. Luckily, there are many reputable companies and individuals performing radon services.

Here are some tips for choosing a specialist that is right for you:

  1. Check for certification: Make sure the specialist is certified by the National Radon Proficiency Program (NRPP), the National Radon Safety Board (NRSB) or your state’s radon office. These organizations offer certification programs for radon professionals, ensuring they high standards of practice.
  2. Get multiple estimates: Get written estimates from at least three different companies before deciding. This estimate should include the scope of work, the cost of materials and labor, and the warranty. Ensure the specialist visits the home to provide an accurate estimate for what type of system is needed. Very low rates are often too good to be true so ask about any hidden fees.
  3. Ask about experience: How long has the company been in business? Do they have experience mitigating radon in your type of home – specifically, with your home’s type of foundation (basement, slab-on-grade, or crawlspace)?
  4. Check references: Ask the company for references from previous customers. You can also check online reviews to see what other people have to say about the company.
  5. Make sure the company is licensed and insured: This ensures high quality workmanship and will protect you in case of any damage to your home during the mitigation process.

We talked to our partners at Protect Environmental, the largest radon contractor in the U.S., to learn more about the importance of professional in-home radon testing and mitigation.

“I’ve been to too many homes where no one knew to test for radon until someone in the home got the devastating diagnosis of lung cancer,” said Kyle Hoylman, chief executive officer of Protect Environmental. “Taking action to reduce radon through mitigation and regular testing is an investment in the lung health of everyone in the building and could be a lifesaving improvement.”

Here are some additional tips and considerations to help with selecting and working with a mitigation company:

  • Ask the company to explain the mitigation process to you.
  • Make sure the company uses high-quality materials.
  • Ensure the system has an alarm that alerts you if the radon mitigation system is not moving sufficient air.
  • Make sure the licensed individuals will be conducting the work or will review the installation before the end of the project.
  • If the company offers a warranty, it should cover the materials and labor for the mitigation system. It should also specify what happens if the radon levels in your home do not reach a safe level after the mitigation system is installed.
  • Get a written guarantee that the radon levels in your home will be reduced to a safe level after the mitigation system is installed.
  • Ask that final payment is made after the work is complete and follow-up radon test shows reduced, safe levels.

Radon is a serious health hazard, but it is preventable. By taking steps to reduce radon levels in your home, you can protect your family's health. Selecting a qualified radon mitigation specialist is an important part of this process. By following the tips in this blog post, you can find a specialist who will help you make your home a safer place to live.

For more information about radon, visit www.Lung.org/Radon and take our free Radon Basics course.

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