Frequently Asked Questions About Radon

Radon is a radioactive gas that has no smell, taste or color. It comes from the natural decay of uranium that is found in nearly all rock and soil. Radon is natural and a very potential hazard when geological conditions are favorable. Radon is at its greatest potential in buildings because the gas collects in the enclosed spaces. Outdoor levels never reach dangerous concentrations because of scattering due to air movements. Radon enters buildings through the ground in the basement of the homes.

Why Is Radon A Hazard?

Radon is a gas that decays into radioactive particles that can be trapped in the lungs when inhaled. Radon is natural and can't be seen, smelled or tasted. Radon enters your home or building through the ground and underlying soil. Radon easily dissolves in water and is released into air without knowing (adds but not significantly). You don't really know if you are being exposed unless you test your home or building. Indoor radon gas is the second-leading cause of lung cancer in the United States and breathing it over prolonged periods can present a significant health risk to families all over the country. It's important to know that this threat is completely preventable. Radon can be detected with a simple test and fixed through well-established venting techniques.

How Do You Test For Radon?

There is two ways set out to test according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Testing Procedure Testing takes from two to ninety days, depending on the device used. The minimum test of 48-80 hours is required for typical Real Estate Transaction Deal, using the charcoal canisters method.

What If You Do Find High Levels and Is There ways of Lowering The Levels In The Home?

If you find that you have high radon levels, there are ways to fix a radon problem. Even very high levels can be reduced to acceptable levels. EPA recommends that you take action to reduce your home's indoor radon levels if your radon test result is 4 pCi/L or higher. It is better to correct a radon problem before placing your home on the market because then you have more time to address a radon problem. If elevated levels are found during the real estate transaction, the buyer and seller should discuss the timing and costs of the radon reduction. The cost of making repairs to reduce radon levels depends on how your home was built and other factors. Most homes can be fixed for about the same cost as other common home repairs, like painting or having a new hot water heater installed.

What is the risk associated with radon?

Radon gas increases the risk of getting lung cancer. Your chances of getting lung cancer from radon gas depend on factors such as the home’s radon level, the amount of time you spend in your home and whether you are a smoker or have ever been a smoker. Recent studies estimate that between 15,400 and 21,800 deaths per year are attributable to radon gas.

Where should I test for radon gas?

The test should be conducted in the lowest livable level of the house which is usually the basement. The test kit should be placed at least two feet above the floor. All windows and outside doors on the level you are testing should be closed during the test. All windows and outside doors should be closed 12 hours prior to and during the test period.

What is an acceptable level for radon gas?

The current U.S. EPA guideline is a radon gas level lower than 4 picocurie's per liter of air (4pCi/L). In Canada the federal government has recommended that the Canadian acceptable level for radon should be 800 becquerels per cubic meter of air (800 Bq/m3).

Can a radon problem be fixed?

Yes. Even very high levels can be reduced to acceptable levels. A radon professional is qualified to evaluate and install a system to solve the problem. In most cases these systems involve the installation of a fan and ducting to help prevent radon gas from entering your home. The fan operates continuously; Piping runs from below the basement floor to above the roof line where the radon gas is safely discharged. Generally these systems are designed to be as unobtrusive as possible. The radon mitigation contractor will design the best system for your home.

How important are post-mitigation tests?

Very important! It is the only way to know if your system is working effectively. The radon professional will leave instructions on how to prepare for and conduct this post-mitigation test.

Is radon only a problem in certain parts of the country?

High radon levels have been found in every state. Radon problems do vary from area to area, but the only way to know your radon level is to test.

For more information visit:

 Sterling Home Inspections Radon Information Page

 A Citizens Guide to Radon EPA

Healthy New York