Radon

What Is Radon? - Radon is a radioactive, naturally occurring gas. It is tasteless, odorless and cannot be seen. Radon is produced from the natural radioactive decay of uranium and can be found in high concentrations in soils and rocks. In outdoor air, radon is diluted to such low concentrations that it is usually nothing to worry about. However, once inside an enclosed space such as a home, radon can accumulate. Indoor levels depend on the building's construction and the concentration of radon in the underlying soil.

What Health Effect Is Associated With Radon? - As radon naturally decays, other radioactive particles are formed. These airborne particles can become trapped in the lungs. As these particles decay further, small amounts of radioactive energy are released which can damage sensitive lung tissue and lead to lung cancer. The risk of developing lung cancer from exposure to radon depends upon the concentration of radon in the air and the length of exposure. Exposure to a slightly elevated radon level for a long time may present a greater risk of developing lung cancer than exposure to a significantly elevated level for a short time. In general, the risk increases as the level of radon and the length of exposure increase.

Do All Homes Have A Problem? - Houses may have high indoor radon levels caused by natural deposits of uranium in the soil or by building materials contaminated by waste from uranium mines, but most homes are unlikely to have elevated levels of radon. However, a relatively few homes do have high levels. The dilemma is that no one knows which houses have a problem and which do not. Because radon is a gas, it can move through the small spaces in the soil and rock on which a house is built. Radon can seep into a home through dirt subfloors, hairline cracks in concrete floors, walls, joints and tiny cracks or pores in block walls. It can also be entrained in water and be released into a home with a private well when the water is used.

How Is Radon Detected? - Since radon cannot be seen, smelled or tasted, special equipment is needed to detect it. Some of these devices are commercially available for home owners. Other devices require operation by trained personnel. In real estate transactions, a continuous radon monitor is normally recommended. This device is usually used for a 48-hour "screening" test and measures the radon concentration at 1-hour intervals.

What Do The Test Results Mean? - The EPA has set guidelines for whether or how quickly to take action to reduce radon levels. The screening test results will provide an idea of the average radon concentration throughout a home. Based on the results, corrective action may or may not be recommended.

Standards for asbestos consultants and asbestos abatement contractors vary from state to state and sometimes, city to city. You should verify the standards required by your local building authority before having any work done.

Need More Information? - The following EPA link provides further information about radon: