More Information About Radon

Questions & Answers:

What is Radon?

Radon is a naturally occurring, inert, radioactive gas, derived frm naturally occurring uranium deposits in the earth. It is colorless, odorless, and tasteless. You cannot see, smell, or taste radon. But it still may be a problem in your home. Unless you test for it, there is no way of telling how much is present.

Radon is formed by the natural radioactive decay of uranium in rock, soil, and water. It can be found in all 50 states. Once produced, radon moves through the ground to the air above. Some remains below the surface and dissolves in water that collects and flows under the ground's surface.

What are the health risks of radon exposure?

The Surgeon General has warned that radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States. There are currently no conclusive data on whether children are at greater risk than adults from radon.

Radon gas decays into radioactive particles that can get trapped in your lungs when you breathe. As they break down further, these particles release small bursts of energy. This can damage lung tissue and lead to lung cancer over the course of your lifetime. Not everyone exposed to elevated levels of radon will develop lung cnacer, and the amount of time between exposure and the onset of the disease may be many years.

What is the "safe" level of radon?

The EPA states that any radon exposure carries some risk; no level of radon exposure is considered safe.

How Does Radon Get Into Your Home?

Radon is a radiocative gas. It comes from the natural decay of uranium that is found in nearly all soils. It typically moves up through the ground to the air above and into your home through cracks and other holes in the foundation. Your home traps radon inside, where it can build up. Any home may have a radon problem. This means new and old homes, well-sealed and drafty homes, and homes with or without basements.

Why should I test my home for radon?

Radon is widely believed to be the second leading cause of lung cancer. Therefore, EPA and the Surgeon General recommends testing for radon in all homes below the third floor.

Radon has been found in homes all over the United States. Any home can have a radon problem. On average, one out of every fifteen U.S. homes has a problem. The only way to know whether or not your home has a radon problem is to test for it.

What can be done to reduce radon in a home?

Your house type will affect the kind of radon reduction system that will work best. Houses are generally categorized according to their foundation design (basement, slab-on-grade, or crawlspace). Some houses have more than one foundation design feature. For instance, it is common to have a basement under part of the house and to have a slab-on-grade or crawlspace under the rest of the house.

In many cases, simple systems using underground pipes and an exhaust fan may be used to reduce radon. Sealin cracks and other openings in the floors and walls is a basic part of most approaches to radon reduction. Sealing does two things, it limits the flow of radon into your home and it reduces the loss of conditioned air, thereby making other radon reduction techniques more effective and cost-efficient.

Helpful Resources About Radon:

EPA - Information about radon
EPA - Indoor Air Quality