What are the health risks of radon?
Radon gas constitutes the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States.¹ With the lowest survival rate among cancers, the Environmental Protection Agency estimates that 21,000 people die from radon-induced lung cancer per year.² In 2005, the Surgeon General of the United States issued a national health advisory on radon.³ Yet, many people are still asking themselves, "What is radon testing?" If you're still in the dark about what is a radon test, start by exploring the dangers of this invisible gas.
How is radon dangerous in your home?
Radon doesn't cause itchy eyes or watering noses, but it can cause lung damage over time. Long-term exposure to high radon levels increases the likelihood of developing lung cancer. Risk of leukemia also rises with exposure to radon.⁴ Children may be at a higher risk for radon exposure according to some recent studies.⁵
What variables impact how dangerous radon is?
Radon is a particularly tricky risk factor to control because the levels in your home can change daily. Seasonal variations and changes in weather are just a few variable that can impact indoor radon levels. For this reason, both long-term and short-term testing is recommended. Some of Radonova's tests measure radon gas levels for up to a full year. This provides an annual average and takes into account how radon fluctuates over the seasons.
Where does radon come from?
Ground soil contains radioactive elements that make up common minerals and rocks found in the soil across the country. Radon gas is released as part of uranium's natural decay process. This radioactive gas may enter the average home through cracks in the foundations, gaps in the first floor and basement walls, and other similar openings. Radon may build up inside the home and reach unsafe levels.
Why don't I hear more about the dangers of radon?
Despite being a major risk factor for lung cancer, radon awareness education from the EPA and state health organizations is limited.² Although many people are unaware of the dangers of radon gas, radon education and awareness is only getting better as more people test. By educating yourself on the potential dangers of radon and taking precautionary measures with radon testing and mitigation, you will ensure the safety of yourself and your loved ones against radioactive gas in your home.
What is considered a dangerous radon level in your home?
The EPA sets the level of unsafe radon gas exposure at or above 4 pCi/L.² If your home has radon gas levels exceeding this action level, it’s recommended that you undergo mitigation efforts to reduce exposure. If testing reveals a much higher level, you’ll definitely need mitigation systems to remediate the radon gas.While any level of radon can have an effect, the EPA says readings below 2 pCi/L is considered normal and only carries a relatively small increased risk of lung cancer.³ It is possible, but often difficult, to reduce radon gas below these levels.
“Radon is a carcinogen, and it does not care how much love you put into your household. It comes to wreck everything that you have done.”³
- Tom Kelly, former director of the Indoor Environments Division of the EPA
How Dangerous is Radon: Frequently Asked Questions
With most homeowners knowing relatively little about radon gas and its risks, there’s plenty to learn before tackling the problem. Understanding the scope of radon exposure, the parts of the country with the highest levels of gas production, and mitigation costs will prepare you for taking on the challenge.
Keeping indoor radon levels at 2 pCi/L or lower, greatly reduces the risk of developing lung cancer due to radon exposure. When you reach the 1.3 pCi/L level that is normal for indoor air, only two non-smokers out of 1,000 will develop lung cancer specifically due to this level of exposure. It’s impossible to have a zero level in areas where radon is common, but reducing the gas level as much as is feasible is worth the effort.³
Two different studies have established an association between lung cancer rates and residential radon exposure. The American and European studies that involved data on miners exposed to high levels of radon at work drew clear associations between exposure and lung cancer rates. Both residential and occupational radon exposure are now understood to affect your chances of developing lung cancer.³,⁹
Radon mitigation efforts depend on the property, the radon levels, and where it’s entering the home. Operating whole house fans and ventilation systems can help reduce relatively low levels of exposure. When radon levels are at or above the EPA action level of 4.0 pCi/l, it is recommended that a professional radon mitigation contractor be contacted. Some states have radon programs to certify professionals. For states without radon programs, the NRPP and NRSB nationally certify radon professionals. These contractors have specialized training in radon reduction methods, such as the commonly used sub-slab depressurization system. Using a professional radon mitigation contractor is the safest way to lower radon levels in your home.²,⁶,⁷
Radon testing is the only reliable method of determining the level of radon gas in a home or building. A radon detector is deployed according to the instructions included with the kit in the lowest lived-in area of the home as well as each bedroom dwelling. At the conclusion of the measurement period, the detector is retrieved and immediately returned to the laboratory for analysis. The tests are designed to reflect the radon level present in the home during the monitoring period.
Short-term test devices are convenient because they quickly provide results, while long term-test devices offer a more reliable average radon level. This is due to the longer exposure period accounting for all the fluctuations in radon levels throughout the measurement period. At Radonova we offer high quality, easy to use radon test kits that are used by homeowners and radon professionals to accurately determine radon levels.
Every home will have varying levels of radon gas, and with it being a colorless, odorless gas, testing for radon is the only way to know the radon level in your home. There are many factors that contribute to each individual home’s radon level. This means houses in the same area, on the same block, even next door will have varying radon levels.
Environmental changes can impact a home’s radon levels over time, as can updates to the home, bathroom and kitchen exhaust fans, home additions, changes to HVAC systems, and more. For these reasons, testing is recommended every 2 years in homes where a previously low level was found, and annually after a mitigation system has been installed to reduce a previously high radon level.⁸
If you are looking to protect your household from radon, then you need a company that understands the risks that face your family. Radon is a legitimate threat that you cannot see or smell. It could be all around you even though you are unable to perceive it. You need a better understanding of what is going on in the air around you in order to protect yourself. Radonova has the expertise that you need to protect your household from the ongoing threat of deadly radon gas. Any of Radonova’s test kits, including the Radtrak³, Rapidos, and QuickScreen, can efficiently measure the radon level in your home. Our certified lab will analyze and accurately report your home’s radon level to help you decide on taking any corrective action.
Short Term Radon Test Kit
10-90 Radon Test Kit
The Rapidos is a short-term radon test that will monitor between 10 to 90 days. This extremely accurate test will take into account all of the daily fluctuations in radon and provide an average concentration.
Long Term Radon Test Kit
90-365 Radon Test Kit
The Radtrak³ is a long-term test that will monitor between 90 days and 1 full year. This extremely accurate test will take into account all of the daily fluctuations in radon levels.
- “Protect Yourself and Your Family from Radon.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 8 Jan. 2020, www.cdc.gov/nceh/features/protect-home-radon/index.html.
- A Citizen’s Guide to Radon The Guide to Protecting Yourself and Your Family from Radon. United States Environmental Protection Agency , Dec. 2016, www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2016-12/documents/2016_a_citizens_guide_to_radon.pdf.
- “Health Risk of Radon.” EPA, Environmental Protection Agency, 24 July 2019, www.epa.gov/radon/health-risk-radon.
- “Radon and Cancer.” National Cancer Institute, www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/risk/substances/radon/radon-fact-sheet#:~:text=How does radon cause cancer?,be associated with inhaling radon.
- “Environmental Health and Medicine Education.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, www.atsdr.cdc.gov/csem/csem.asp?csem=8&po=7#:~:text=Children and Radon Exposure Risk,faster than those of adults
- “Consumer Protection.” National Radon Safety Board, 28 Aug. 2018, www.nrsb.org/for-consumers/consumer-protection/.
- “Types of Certification.” NRPP, 16 Jan. 2020, nrpp.info/certification/types-of-certification/.
- Home Buyer’s and Seller’s Guide to Radon. United States Environmental Protection Agency , Mar. 2018, www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2015-05/documents/hmbuygud.pdf.
- “Radon and Cancer.” American Cancer Society, www.cancer.org/cancer/cancer-causes/radiation-exposure/radon.html.
- (Fatalities From Radon Comparison Chart) Environmental Protection Agency: Health Risk of Radon, US Department of Transportation: National Center for Statistics and Analysis, World Health Organization: Global Report on Drowning, US Fire Administration: Home Fire Fatalities in the News