GENERAL RADON INFORMATION
Radon gas is now universally recognized as a home health hazard. According to the Surgeon General, inhalation of radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in America, and the leading cause of lung cancer in non-smokers. Radon is a colorless, odorless and tasteless radioactive gas that occurs naturally in most rocks and soil. It is produced by the breakdown of uranium in soil, rock and water. Radon is harmlessly dispersed in outdoor air, but when trapped in buildings, can increase the risk of lung cancer, especially at elevated levels. It typically enters a home the same way air and other soil gases enter the home, through cracks in the foundation, floor or walls, hollow-block walls, and openings around pipes, sump pumps, and floor drains. It can also be present in some construction materials and in water from underground sources including private wells. While most people are aware that air pollution can be hazardous to their health, many do not know that the air they breathe inside their own homes could be killing them. Millions of homes and buildings contain high levels of radon gas. Many do not even know it is present. When radon decays and is inhaled into the lungs, it releases energy that can damage the DNA in sensitive lung tissue and lead to lung cancer. In fact, prolonged exposure to high levels of radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States, contributing to between 7,000 and 30,000 lung cancer deaths each year. Smokers are at higher risk of developing radon-induced lung cancer. “We do not know how many people have died in Alabama because of high radon levels, but we do know radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer, just behind tobacco smoke,” Dr. Jesse C. LaPrade, Extension Environmental Specialist, said. “We do know smoking tobacco and being exposed to radon have a cumulative effect. If you smoke and you’re subjected even to moderate levels of radon, the chances of developing lung cancer are much greater than if you do not have radon in your home or are exposed to low levels of radon.” According to the Surgeon General, exposure to radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States. According to the EPA’s 2003 Assessment of Risks from Radon in Homes, radon is estimated to cause about 21,000 lung cancer deaths per year. Radon is not known to cause other illnesses or problems such as upper respiratory infections, colds or allergic reactions. Its only known health effect is an increased risk of developing lung cancer. However, as with those who smoke, not everyone exposed to high levels of radon will develop lung cancer, and the time between exposure and the onset of cancer may be many years. It is important to note that radon gas may be found in all areas of the state. Even if you live in a Zone 3 county there is still some risk that you may have elevated radon levels. This map should not be used as a substitute for radon testing. The only way to know for sure if you have elevated levels of radon gas is to perform a radon test. Short term testing typically last 48 hours. After completion, we will e-mail the report to you indicating whether radon levels in the home were above or below 4 piC/L during the test period. Our continuous monitoring devices are calibrated annually as required by the EPA and the National Radon Proficiency Program (NRPP). Radon has been found in homes in
all 50 states, and the EPA recommends that all homes be tested. Certain geographic areas are more susceptible than others (http://www.epa.gov/radon/zonemap.html). If high concentrations of radon are found in your home, you have several options. Since radon is only a problem when it is concentrated in high volume, improving the ventilation in an area is often sufficient to solve the problem. In other cases, it may be necessary to limit the amount of radon getting into the home by sealing or otherwise obstructing the access points. Once again, a professional should be engaged to ensure that the radon is effectively blocked. Typical radon mitigation systems can cost between $800 and $2500, according to the EPA. If radon testing is done in conjunction with a home inspection, the discounted rate is $150. Radon testing alone is $175 testing fee. The testing requires monitor placement in the home for 48 hours and a report will be emailed shortly after the monitoring is completed.