Radon Testing

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EPA Recommends

  • If you are buying a home or selling your home, have it tested for radon.
  • For a new home, ask if radon-resistant construction features were used and if the home has been tested.
  • Fix the home if the radon level is 4 picocuries per liter, or pCi/L,  or higher.
  • Radon levels less than 4 pCi/L still pose a risk, and in many cases, may be reduced.
  • Take steps to prevent device interference when conducting a radon test.

Radon is estimated to cause thousands of lung cancer deaths in the U.S. each year.

 * Radon is estimated to cause about 21,000 lung cancer deaths per year, according to EPA’s 2003 Assessment of Risks from Radon in Homes (EPA 402-R-03-003). The numbers of deaths from other causes are taken from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s 2005-2006 National Center for Injury Prevention and Control Report and 2006 National Safety Council Reports.

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EPA Risk Assessment for Radon in Indoor Air

EPA updated its estimate of the lung cancer risks from exposure to radon in indoor air. “EPA Assessment of Risks from Radon in Homes” [EPA 402-R-3-003]. was based on the National Academy of Sciences’ (NAS) report on the “Health Effects of Exposure to Radon” (BEIR VI, 1999). The Agency now estimates that there are about 21,000 annual radon-related lung cancer deaths, an estimate consistent with the NAS Report’s findings. Download the risk assessment (PDF, 98 pp., 526 K)

This Guide answers important questions about radon and lung cancer risk. It also answers questions about testing and fixing for anyone buying or selling a home.

Radon Is a Cancer-Causing, Radioactive Gas

You cannot see, smell, or taste radon. But it still may be a problem in your home. When you breathe air containing radon, you increase your risk of getting lung cancer. In fact, the Surgeon General of the United States has warned that radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States today. If you smoke and your home has high radon levels, your risk of lung cancer is especially high.

You Should Test for Radon

Testing is the only way to find out your home’s radon levels. EPA and the Surgeon General recommend testing all homes below the third floor for radon.

You Can Fix a Radon Problem

If you find that you have high radon levels, there are ways to fix a radon problem. Even very high levels can be reduced to acceptable levels.

If You Are Selling a Home…

EPA recommends that you test your home before putting it on the market and, if necessary, lower your radon levels. Save the test results and all information you have about steps that were taken to fix any problems. This could be a positive selling point.

If You Are Buying a Home…

  • EPA recommends that you know what the indoor radon level is in any home you consider buying. Ask the seller for their radon test results. If the home has a radon-reduction system, ask the seller for information they have about the system.

  • If the home has not yet been tested, you should have the housed tested.

  • If you are having a new home built, there are features that can be incorporated into your home during construction to reduce radon levels.

  • The radon testing guidelines in this Guide have been developed specifically to deal with the time-sensitive nature of home purchases and sales, and the potential for radon device interference. These guidelines are slightly different from the guidelines in other EPA publications which provide radon testing and reduction information for non-real estate situations.

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