What is radon?
Radon is a naturally
occurring radioactive gas found in soils, rock, and water throughout the U.S. Radon causes lung cancer, and is a threat to
health because it tends to collect in homes, sometimes to very high concentrations. How can radon affect people's
Almost all risk from radon comes from breathing air with radon and its decay products. Radon decay
products cause lung cancer.
There is no safe level of radon -- any exposure poses some risk of cancer. In two
1999 reports, the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) concluded after an exhaustive review that radon in indoor air is the
second leading cause of lung cancer in the U.S. after cigarette smoking. The NAS estimated that 15,000-22,000 Americans die
every year from radon-related lung cancer.How do I know if there is radon in my home?
cannot see, feel, smell, or taste radon. Testing your home is the only way to know if you and your family are at risk from
radon. EPA and the Surgeon General recommend testing for radon in all rooms below the third floor.
is inexpensive and easy--it should only take a few minutes of your time. Millions of Americans have already tested their homes
for radon. Various low-cost, do-it-yourself test kits are available through the mail and in hardware stores and other retail
outlets. You can also hire a trained contractor to do the testing for you. What can I do to protect myself
and my family from radon?
The first step is to test your home for radon, and have it fixed if it is at or
above EPA's Action Level of 4 picocuries per liter. You may want to take action if the levels are in the range of 2-4
picocuries per liter. Generally, levels can be brought below 2 pCi/l fairly simply.
The best method for reducing
radon in your home will depend on how radon enters your home and the design of your home. For example, sealing cracks in floors
and walls may help to reduce radon. There are also systems that remove radon from the crawl space or from beneath the concrete
floor or basement slab that are effective at keeping radon from entering your home. These systems are simple and don't
require major changes to your home. Other methods may be necessary.
People who have private wells should test
their well water to ensure that radon levels meet EPA's newly proposed standard. For more information,
read the EPA's A Citizen's Guide to Radon and How to Find a Qualified Radon Service Professional in Your Area.
The above information is provided as a public service by the Environmental Protection Agency for educational