Radon Gas Testing

*Info sources: MA Depart. Public Health, American Lung Association & U.S. EPA
What Is Radon And Where Does It Come From?
What Makes Radon Dangerous?
How Radon Gets Into Homes?
What Level Of Radon Is Considered Hazardous?
What Is The Lung Cancer Risk At Various Exposure Concentrations?
How Do I Test For Radon?
How Much Does Radon Gas Testing Cost?
What Can Be Done To Reduce Indoor Radon Levels?


What Is Radon Gas?

Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas. It is produced in the ground through the normal decay of uranium and radium. High radon levels have been found in every state. Dig up the top 6 feet of an acre of land and you will find, on average, about 50 pounds of uranium. Uranium decays to radium, which then decays to radon. Radon levels vary from home to home, you can not gauge the radon level in your home by the results in a neighbor’s home. Although some scientists dispute the precise number of deaths due to radon, all major health organizations, including the Centers for Disease Control, the American Lung Association and the American Medical Association agree with estimates that radon causes thousands of preventable lung cancer deaths every year. Millions of homes have elevated radon levels. Radon can be a problem in all types of homes, old homes, new homes, drafty homes or homes without basements.

Surgeon General Health Advisory: “Indoor radon gas is a national health problem. Radon causes thousands of deaths each year. Homes should be tested for radon. When elevated levels are confirmed, the problem should be corrected.”

What Makes Radon Dangerous?

Radon itself is an inert gas & poses no danger, but radon decays to polonium & lead particles. These and later progeny are chemically very active as well as radioactive. When you breathe, these radioactive progeny lodge in your lungs, bronchi, and trachea. The radiation disrupts and mutates cells and can, eventually, result in lung cancer. Radon is estimated to be the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States. Its health risk increases with the length of exposure and concentration level of the radon. It is estimated that 15,800 people die each year as a direct result of Radon exposure, that is 43 people every single day.

How Does Radon Get Into Homes?

Radon moves through small spaces in the soil and rock on which a house is built and can seep into a home through dirt floors, floor drains, sump pits, cracks in the foundation and basement floor & up through hollow core block foundation walls. Differences in air pressure between the basement and the soil beneath the home also play a part in the migration of radon gas.

What Level Of Radon Is Considered Hazardous?

The EPA has set the level of concern at 4 picoCuries of radon per liter of air (4 pCi/L). This is a concentration of 70,000 atoms of radon in each liter of air (about 2 million radon atoms in every cubic foot of air). This is a very low concentration, roughly one radon atom in a billion-billion air atoms, however, the radon atoms are radioactive and that makes the difference. We breathe about 20 litters of air into out lungs each minute. At 4 pCi/L we accumulate about 10,000 radioactive atoms in our lungs, trachea, and bronchi every minute.

What Is The Lung Cancer Risk At Various Exposure Concentrations?

If 1,000 people who never smoked were exposed to 4 pCi/L over a lifetime, about 2 people could get lung cancer.
If 1,000 people who smoked were exposed to 4 pCi/L over a lifetime, about 29 could get lung cancer.
If 1,000 people who never smoked were exposed to 20 pCi/L over a lifetime, about 8 people could get lung cancer.
If 1,000 people who smoked were exposed to 20 pCi/L over a lifetime, about 135 could get lung cancer.

How Do I Test For Radon?

Most home inspectors offer radon gas testing. These include short term (2-7 days) tests with charcoal accumulors, and long term (3-12 months) that do the testing by alpha track or electret. The EPA recommends a short term charcoal test for first time testing. Choose one that has passed EPA testing.

What Does Radon Testing Cost?

The cost will vary depending upon the method used and whether you or the tester retrieves the test unit/s. If you are having a home inspection performed by Able Home Inspection and wish to have a radon test as part of the inspection, and plan to retrieve the test vials yourself, the cost would be $95. (This would be the EPA double test cylinder protocol.)
If the client elects to have the inspector retrieve the test vials, a travel fee would apply.

What Can Be Done To Reduce Indoor Radon Levels?

There are several remedies for reducing radon concentrations in the home. The most widely used method is the “sub-slab depressurization” system. This involves the installation of pipes and fans. This system prevents radon gas from entering the home from below the concrete floor and the foundation. Radon reduction contractors may also use other methods depending upon the design of the home. In addition to the installation costs, there are also operating costs. Installation costs to lower radon levels can range from $800 to about $2500. Be sure the contractor is listed with the EPA’s Radon Contractor Proficiency Program.

If You Have A Question About Radon Or Radon Testing, Call 978-478-7183 Or Send E-Mail