1. Radon 101: What Is Radon? Where Is Radon Found?
  • Radon Testing: Should You Do It?

    February 22, 2019

    Sure, you understand that radon is dangerous. But there’s a more important fact about the cancer-causing gas that you should know: Whether or not it’s in your home.

    • Radon is common in homes across the country, and it could be in yours. Testing your home for radon is simple. Here’s what to know and how to get started.

      What is radon?

      Radon is a radioactive gas that you can’t see, smell or taste. It’s released by decaying uranium, found in rocky soil.

      Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer, right behind smoking, as well as the number one cause of lung cancer among non-smokers. It causes thousands of deaths per year—more than drunk driving and home fires combined*.

      Where is radon found?

      Radon can be found all across the U.S. and around the world. When it’s released into the air, it quickly dilutes, but when it seeps into buildings through cracks, gaps or holes in the foundation, it’s contained, and so it lingers.

      The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that nearly 1 in 15 homes has elevated radon levels*.

      How do I know if my home has radon?

      Although some areas of the country have, on average, higher levels of radon than others, serious levels exist in every state. What’s more, your neighbor’s radon level can vary drastically from your own. The only way to be sure of your home’s radon level is to have it tested.

      Did you know that radon testing and mitigation is now often a condition of sale during real estate transfers? Test and address any problems proactively so your family can breathe in the benefits, too.

      How do I test my home for radon?

      Purchase a DIY test through the mail or at your local home improvement store, or hire a qualified professional tester. Expect to pay as little as $10 for the home radon test, and $150 or more to a professional.

      Testing for radon can take anywhere from a couple days to several months, as levels can vary not just season to season, but also hour to hour. Most homeowners start with short-term (two- to 90-day) radon tests.

      Testing typically involves quick set-up in an undisturbed location in the lowest lived-in level of your home, keeping outside windows and doors closed as much as possible during the testing window.

      What do I do with my radon-testing results?

      • If your home tests at 4 picocuries per liter (pCi/L) or higher, the EPA recommends installing a mitigation system*. Hire a qualified radon contractor to install a pipe-and-fan system to pull the radon from under your home and vent it outdoors. The average cost for a system is around $1,200.
      • If your home’s Radon level is lower than 4 pCi/L, the EPA recommends re-testing again in two years—sooner if you make structural changes or occupy a previously unused level of your home*.

      Since no level of radon is considered safe, some homeowners opt to mitigate when results top 2 pCi/L.

      Sources:

      *Environmental Protection Agency (PDF, 733.36 KB)