Radon Common Questions
What is Radon?
Radon is a radioactive, colorless, odorless, tasteless, and naturally occurring gas. Radon is produced by the radioactive decay of radium, which is found in numerous forms of soils and rocks, especially granite.
Why is Radon harmful?
When inhaled, the radioactive radon particles can damage the cells that line the lungs.
Where is Radon found?
Radon is present in nearly all air, usually at very low levels, and has been identified in all 50 states.
How does Radon enter buildings?
Radon gas enters a building directly from the soil, through the lowest level in the building that is in contact with the ground. Typical entry points of radon are cracks in solid foundations, construction joints, cracks in walls and gaps in suspended floors.
Can’t I just open my windows to get rid of the Radon?
Yes, this would help eliminate the radon levels in your home. Yet, when opening all of the windows in your home to eliminate the radon level, you would then be opening yourself up to sky high energy costs with the loss of conditioned or heated air.
Radon Measurement Questions
How do I find out if I have Radon in my home?
The only way to determine radon levels in your home is to conduct a radon test. For more information on radon testing, please see our Radon Measurement Common Questions page.
What if I’m in a real estate transaction?
If you are purchasing a home, most buyers and their agents, test the new home as part of the inspection period. A Certified Radon Measurement Professional should be hired to conduct the radon test. The third party tester will perform a two day test, the test will be placed in the lowest portion of the home (i.e. crawlspace or basement) and will be required to be under “closed-house conditions”.
What Radon level should I be concerned about?
The EPA recommends that action be taken to reduce radon levels of 4.0 pCi/L or higher, and to consider lowering the radon to a level between 2.0 – 4.0 pCi/L. The EPA also recommends that you test your home every two years using a short-term or long-term test, to monitor radon levels.
Why does the EPA recommend 4.0 pCi/L and the World Health Organization recommends 2.7 pCi/L?
The EPA does recommend that homeowners should consider taking corrective action if their homes reflect radon levels between 2.0 and 4.0 pCi/L, since there is no safe level of radon exposure. Radon measurement companies that have been certified are required to follow the EPA protocols, not the World Health Organizations. Also, those companies that have been certified are mandated to observe all EPA protocols, if a company follows the WHO recommendations, they are in violation of their radon certification.
Removing radon from homes
How do I get rid of Radon from my home?
The method of reducing homes with high radon levels is through a process called Radon Mitigation. The most common and cost-effective mitigation system installed is called an active soil depressurization (ASD). The ASD system intercepts the radon before it enters the home from the soil and re-routes it into the atmosphere. An ASD system incorporates a suction pipe and an inline fan, creating a vacuum beneath the lowest level of the structure, intercepting and rerouting the Radon gases out of the home. For more information on mitigation systems, please see our Radon Mitigation System Information page.
Can’t I just seal cracks and other openings in and around the foundation to stop the radon from getting in?
The EPA does not recommend the use of sealing alone to limit radon gases. Sealing alone has not demonstrated to lower radon levels significantly or consistently.
Is there anything specific I should be worried about when it comes to mitigation systems?
Yes, not all radon mitigation systems are created equal. Below are just a few reasons it is important to do your homework when installing a mitigation system.
- The system that is installed does not address the whole house. It is important to think of where the fan will be placed, is it under a bedroom window, will there be a noise issue effecting everyday life.
- Poorly constructed systems can increase utility bills by hundreds of dollars a year, with the release of air conditioned or heated air.
- Back-drafting of combustion appliances and fireplaces can kill occupants of the home.
- Not using licensed electricians for installation or pulling proper permits with the city.
I’m going to be converting my basement into livable space, should I test before hand?
Yes, a radon test should be done before starting construction and after the project has been completed. Generally, it is less expensive to install a radon mitigation system before or during renovations rather than afterwards.
I’m going to be sealing my home for energy efficiency, will that effect radon levels?
It can. Insulating and air sealing your home will reduce your carbon emission, save you money and energy. While achieving energy efficiency, you can also create an increase in radon due to a reduction in outdoor air entering the house. A radon test should be conducted before and after the weatherization improvements to ensure the home is safe from high levels of radon.
Both houses next to me have very little radon levels, doesn’t that mean mine does too?
Not necessarily. Radon levels can vary from home to home and cannot be based on someone else’s test. Homes which are next to each other can have different indoor radon levels. Nearly 1 out of every 15 homes in the US is estimated to have elevated radon levels. The only way to find out your radon level is to test your home yourself.