How can people know if they have an elevated level of radon in their homes?
Testing is the only way to know if a person’s home has elevated radon levels. Indoor radon levels are affected by the soil composition under and around the house, and the ease with which radon enters the house. Homes that are next door to each other can have different indoor radon levels, making a neighbor’s test result a poor predictor of radon risk. In addition, rain or snow, barometric pressure, and other influences can cause radon levels to vary from month to month or day to day, which is why both short- and long-term tests are available.
Short-term detectors measure radon levels for 2 days to 90 days, depending on the device. Long-term tests determine the average concentration for more than 90 days. Because radon levels can vary from day to day and month to month, a long-term test is a better indicator of the average radon level. Both tests are relatively easy to use and inexpensive. A state or local radon official can explain the differences between testing devices and recommend the most appropriate test for a person’s needs and conditions.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends taking action to reduce radon in homes that have a radon level at or above 4 picocuries per liter (pCi/L) of air. About 1 in 15 U.S. homes is estimated to have radon levels at or above this EPA action level. Scientists estimate that lung cancer deaths could be reduced by 2 to 4 percent, or about 5,000 deaths, by lowering radon levels in homes exceeding the EPA’s action level.
The EPA has more information about residential radon exposure and what people can do about it in the Consumer’s Guide to Radon Reduction.
Where can people find more information about radon?
The National Radon Program ServicesExit Disclaimer at Kansas State University is funded by the EPA and aimed at promoting public awareness of radon, increased testing, and the reduction of radon in homes, schools, and buildings. It provides a variety of resources, including the National Radon Hotlines, referrals to state radon programs, radon test kit orders, radon mitigation promotion, and other technical assistance and outreach activities.
Consumers can contact the National Radon Hotline at:
- 1–800–SOS–RADON (1–800–767–7236) to reach an automated system for ordering materials and listen to informational recordings
- 1–800–55–RADON (1–800–557–2366) to contact an information specialist, or by sending an e-mail
More information is also available online from the EPA.
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Source: National Cancer Institute.