What is radon?
Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas found in soils,
rock, and water throughout the U.S. Radon causes lung cancer, and is a
threat to health because it tends to collect in homes, sometimes to
very high concentrations.
How can radon affect people's health?
Almost all risk from radon comes from breathing air with radon and its decay
products. Radon decay products cause lung cancer.
There is no safe level of radon -- any exposure poses some risk of
cancer. In two 1999 reports, the National Academy of Sciences (NAS)
concluded after an exhaustive review that radon in indoor air is the
second leading cause of lung cancer in the U.S. after cigarette
smoking. The NAS estimated that 15,000-22,000 Americans die every year
from radon-related lung cancer.
How do I know if there is radon in my home?
You cannot see, feel, smell, or taste radon. Testing your home is
the only way to know if you and your family are at risk from radon. EPA
and the Surgeon General recommend testing for radon in all rooms below
the third floor.
Radon testing is inexpensive and easy--it should only take a few
minutes of your time. Millions of Americans have already tested their
homes for radon. Various low-cost, do-it-yourself test kits are
available through the mail and in hardware stores and other retail
outlets. You can also hire a trained contractor to do the testing for
What can I do to protect myself and my family from radon?
The first step is to test your home for radon, and have it fixed
if it is at or above EPA's Action Level of 4 picocuries per liter. You
may want to take action if the levels are in the range of 2-4
picocuries per liter. Generally, levels can be brought below 2 pCi/l
The best method for reducing radon in your home will depend on how
radon enters your home and the design of your home. For example,
sealing cracks in floors and walls may help to reduce radon. There are
also systems that remove radon from the crawl space or from beneath the
concrete floor or basement slab that are effective at keeping radon
from entering your home. These systems are simple and don't require
major changes to your home. Other methods may be necessary.
People who have private wells should test their well water to ensure that radon
levels meet EPA's newly proposed standard.
For more information, read the EPA's A Citizen's Guide to Radon
and How to Find a Qualified Radon Service Professional in Your Area
The above information is provided as a public service by the Environmental Protection
Agency for educational purposes.