Radon Frequently Asked Questions

What is radon?

In scientific terms, Radon is a colorless chemically-unreactive inert gas. In simple terms, Radon is tasteless, odorless and colorless. It is a naturally occurring radioactive gas and comes from the natural breakdown (radioactive decay) of uranium. It can be found in igneous rock and soil, but is also found in well water. Due to the characteristics of radon it goes undetected. But Radon is a threat because it tends to collect in high level concentrations within homes, buildings and other workplaces. The Surgeon General's Office has estimated that as many as 20,000 lung cancer deaths are caused each year by Radon.

How can radon affect people's health?

Radon is in the ground, groundwater, or building materials and it enters into working and living spaces and disintegrates into its decay products. The primary routes of potential human exposure to radon are inhalation and ingestion. High concentrations of radon in groundwater may contribute to radon exposure through ingestion. However, almost all risk comes from the inhalation (or breathing air) with radon and its decay products. It is this radon decay which is the second leading cause of lung cancer. The average radon concentrations in houses are generally much lower than the average radon concentrations in underground ore mines. The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) has given a recommended action level of 4 pCi/L (Pico curies per liter). But, the EPA notes that there is no "safe" level of radon gas. It is carcinogenic whether small or high concentration levels are present.

How do I know if there is radon in my home?

Remember, radon is tasteless, odorless and colorless. There are no immediate symptoms that will alert you to the presence of radon. It typically takes years of exposure before any problems surface. Testing your home is the only way to know if you and your family are at risk to radon exposure. Radon testing is fairly inexpensive and easy. Local hardware or DIY home centers offer test kits or you can order a test kit by mail. You can also hire a trained professional to do the test for you.
Greg Kolar is licensed by the State of Ohio to perform Radon gas testing and offers it as a service through Keystone Home Inspection.

What can I do to protect myself and my family from radon?

If your home has been tested and determined to have high concentration levels of radon there are some simple steps you can take to reduce the exposure. You will need to determine how the radon is entering your home. For example, if you have cracks in your floors or walls, sealing them may help to reduce radon. There are also systems that remove radon from crawl spaces or from beneath your concrete floor or basement slab. These systems have proven to be an effective way to reduce radon from entering your home. Other methods may be necessary. If you want or require the assistance of a professional you may wish to look at the list of certified radon mitigators for your state.
The best method for reducing radon in your home will depend on how radon enters your home and the design of your home. For example, sealing cracks in floors and walls may help to reduce radon. There are also systems that remove radon from the crawl space or from beneath the concrete floor or basement slab that are effective at keeping radon from entering your home. These systems are simple and don't require major changes to your home. Other methods may be necessary.
For those homeowners who use private wells, testing their well water to ensure that radon levels meet the EPA's newly proposed standard, is highly recommended.
For more information, read the EPA's A Citizen's Guide to Radon
The above information is provided as a public service by the Environmental Protection Agency for educational purposes.
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