Radon is a radioactive gas that has been found in homes all over the United States. It comes from the natural breakdown of uranium in soil, rock and water and gets into the air you breathe. Radon typically moves up through the ground to the air above and into your home through cracks and other holes in the foundation. Radon can also enter your home through well water. Your home can trap radon inside.
Any home can have a radon problem. This means new and old homes, well-sealed and drafty homes, and homes with or without basements. In fact, you and your family are most likely to get your greatest radiation exposure at home. That is where you spend most of your time.
Nearly 1 out of every 15 homes in the United States is estimated to have an elevated radon level (4 pCi/L or more). Elevated levels of radon gas have been found in homes in your state. Contact your state radon office for information about radon in your area.
You cannot predict radon levels based on state, local, and neighborhood radon measurements. Do not rely on radon test results taken in other homes in the neighborhood to estimate the radon level in your home. Homes which are next to each other can have different radon levels. Testing is the only way to find out what your home's radon level is.
In some areas, companies may offer different types of radon service agreements. Some agreements let you pay a one-time fee that covers both testing and radon mitigation, if needed. Contact your state radon office to find out if these are available in your state.
Radon Risk If You Smoke
Radon LevelIf 1,000 people who smoked were exposed to this level over a lifetime*...The risk of cancer from radon exposure compares to**...WHAT TO DO: Stop smoking and... 20 pCi/L About 260 people could get lung cancer 250 times the risk of drowning Fix your home 10 pCi/L About 150 people could get lung cancer 200 times the risk of dying in a home fire Fix your home 8 pCi/L About 120 people could get lung cancer 30 times the risk of dying in a fall Fix your home 4 pCi/L About 62 people could get lung cancer 5 times the risk of dying in a car crash Fix your home 2 pCi/L About 32 people could get lung cancer 6 times the risk of dying from poison Consider fixing between 2 and 4 pCi/L 1.3 pCi/L About 20 people could get lung cancer (Average indoor radon level) (Reducing radon levels below 2 pCi/L is difficult.) 0.4 pCi/L About 3 people could get lung cancer (Average outdoor radon level) Note: If you are a former smoker, your risk may be lower.
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. Check with and get an estimate from one or more qualified mitigators.
A variety of methods can be used to reduce radon in homes. Sealing cracks and other openings in the foundation is a basic part of most approaches to radon reduction. EPA does not recommend the use of sealing alone to limit radon entry. Sealing alone has not been shown to lower radon levels significantly or consistently.
In most cases, a system with a vent pipe(s) and fan(s) is used to reduce radon. These "sub-slab depressurization" systems do not require major changes to your home. Similar systems can also be installed in homes with crawl space. These systems prevent radon gas from entering the home from below the concrete floor and from outside the foundation. Radon mitigation contractors may use other methods that may also work in your home. The right system depends on the design of your home and other factors.
Techniques for reducing radon are discussed in EPA's "Consumer's Guide to Radon Reduction." As with any other household appliance, there are costs associated with the operation of the radon-reduction system.