What is Radon?

Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas. It comes from uranium and radium in the ground, and can be found everywhere in the world. Uranium can be found in rocks like granite, shale, and phosphate. Uranium breaks down to radium, which decays into radon gas. This gas can easily move up through the soil and into the atmosphere. We cannot see, smell, feel, or taste radon, and there is no way to tell what levels are present in any given home without scientifically testing for it.

What is considered an unsafe level of radon?

Technically, the level of radon is measured in picocuries per liter of air (pCi/L), where picocuries are a measure of radioactivity. So, the number that you see on a radon test result refers to the number of picocuries. Outdoors, the national average radon level is about 0.4 pC/L. While there is no “safe” level of radon, the EPA recommends taking action to lower elevated levels in a home when they measure above 4 pC/L.

Why are some radon levels higher than others?

Radon gas becomes trapped within layers of rock. If your home is situated adjacent to a rock layer that contains radon, the radon can then make its way into your home.

The radon level becomes elevated in a home if the gas enters through cracks in the foundation, slabs, crawl spaces, sump pits, etc. and becomes trapped by the home’s structure.  The gas then builds up within that structure.

Why is it important to learn the radon level of my home?

Once radon enters a home, it can then be inhaled and trapped in the lungs. According to the EPA, radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States, second only to smoking, and causes about 21,000 lung cancer deaths per year.

What can I do if my home’s radon test results come back higher than the safety standard?

Radon is easily mitigated. The cost will vary between companies, but most systems will cost around $1500.00 to install, depending on the home’s construction.

If you are interested in having a radon test performed, just let us know and we will be happy to set it up for you.

For more information please visit: www.epa.gov/radon


The information in this article was adapted from:

“Health Risk or Hype?  Questions and Answers About Radon.”  ASHI Reporter, November 2004:  11-14.

Chin, Paulina, et al, “Build Radon Out, a Step-by-Step Guide on How to Build Radon Resistant Homes,”                                          U.S. EPA Office of Air and Radiation.