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Radon in Homes and Buildings

Radon is a radioactive gas you can't see, smell or taste, but it may be a problem in your home or school. It's important to:

  • Test - Testing for radon where you spend time is simple and inexpensive.
  • Fix - Find a contractor, get cost estimates and fix spaces with an elevated radon level.

On this page:


About Radon in Homes and Buildings

Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States. More than 21,000 Americans die each year from radon-related lung cancer. Only smoking causes more lung cancer deaths. For more information about indoor air quality and the health risk of radon, visit the Health Risk of Radon page on EPA.gov.

You can't see or smell radon. But it may pose a risk to you in your home or school.

Ways that radon can enter your home.

 

 

Ways that radon can enter your home.
1. Cracks in solid floors
2. Construction joints
3. Cracks in walls
4. Gaps in suspended floors
5. Gaps around service pipes
6. Cavities inside walls
7. The water supply

 

Did You Know?

Nearly one in 15 homes in the United States has a radon level that should be reduced.

Radon is a radioactive gas. It comes from the natural decay of uranium and radium found in nearly all rocks and soils. Radon moves up from the ground into buildings through openings in floors or walls that are in contact with the ground. Radon can accumulate in buildings over time and may pose a health hazard. Any home or building can have high levels of radon, including new and old homes, well-sealed and drafty homes, and homes with or without basements.

Remember:

Testing your home is the only way to know if you have elevated radon levels. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Surgeon General recommend that homeowners take action to reduce radon levels that are 4 pCi/L or higher. Visit EPA's Radon webpage for more information.

Radon in schools can be a significant source of exposure to the people who spend the most time there, especially students and staff. Qualified professional testing services or trained school personnel can test your school for radon.

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Rules and Guidance

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

EPA leads the national effort to educate citizens about the risk of radon in homes and buildings. EPA is responsible for conducting research and educating the public about indoor environmental issues, including health risks and how to reduce exposures. EPA educates the public about health risks associated with a variety of indoor environmental pollutants, including radon, secondhand smoke, indoor wood smoke, and other asthma triggers. Please see EPA's Radon testing webpage for more information on EPA guidance and how to test homes.

The States

Individual states work closely with EPA to educate and encourage people to reduce radon risks. Also, states and EPA work closely with two non-governmental organizations; the National Radon Safety Board (NRSB) and the American Association of Radon Scientists and Technologists (AARST). Together, these national organizations train and certify people who measure and fix houses with elevated radon levels. However, it is up to homeowners to test and get their homes fixed if necessary. Find your state radiation program contact exit EPA.

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What you can do

Testing for radon at home is easy. There are many kinds of low-cost radon test kits available by phone, online and in many stores. If you prefer, you can hire a professional to do the testing.

Ask your school administrator if your school has been tested. If your school has not been tested recently, qualified professional testing services or school personnel can test your school for radon.

Indoor air quality is an important aspect of a safe learning environment. If a new school is being built or one is being updated, ask your school board to consider making it radon-resistant. See EPA's Radon Publications Page for help.

If a radon level of 4 picocuries per liter (pCi/L) or more is detected in your home or school, a qualified radon mitigator should install a mitigation system. Typically these systems use a vent fan to keep radon from entering the building. The certified professional may also recommend adjusting the HVAC system as an alternative method of mitigation.

For more information about radon, its risk and what you can do to protect yourself, visit EPA's Radon webpage.

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Where to learn more about

Radon in Homes and Buildings

Radon
August 15, 2014. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
This webpage provides information about radon and shares answers to frequently asked radon questions, including what you can do about high radon levels in your home.
Radon Hotlines and Information Resources
August 15, 2014. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
This webpage lists contact information and links to qualified radon service professionals.
Radon Outreach exit EPA
August 15, 2014. Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment
This webpage links to resources provided by the Colorado radon program and other radon websites.
Welcome to the National Radon Safety Board exit EPA
August 15, 2014. National Radon Safety Board
This webpage links to radon-related websites, including information on radon detecting services and devices.
National Radon Proficiency Program exit EPA
August 15, 2014. American Association of Radon Scientist and Technologists-National Radon Proficiency Program (AARST-NRPP)
This webpage provides links to radon information, information about how to find certified individuals, device evaluations.
Radon and Cancer: Questions and Answers
August 15, 2014. U.S. National Institutes of Health, National Cancer Institute
This webpage provides answers to frequently asked questions about radon and radon-related health concerns.
Find Information about Local Radon Zones and Radon Programs
August 15, 2014. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
This webpage shows a map of the U.S. with radon zones, showing where radon is more and less common. It's important to test all homes, regardless of geographic location.

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Radon in Schools

Radon Publications Page
August 15, 2014. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Radon
This webpage provides links to EPA publications with information about protecting yourself and your family from radon.
IAQ Tools for Schools Action Kit
August 15, 2014. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
This webpage share information about EPA's Tools for Schools Program.
IAQ Design Tools for Schools
August 15, 2014. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
This webpage provides information and tools to help school districts and facility planners design new schools and repair, renovate and maintain existing facilities.
Managing Radon in Schools
October 19, 2015. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
This webpage discusses indoor air quality issues and tools for schools to help ensure a safe school environment.
State Radiation Programs exit EPA
August 15, 2014. Conference of Radiation Control Program Directors
This page provides links to contacts for and information about state radiation protection programs.

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