American Lung Association of the Upper Midwest Health House

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General Radon Information

The American Lung Association of the Upper Midwest is currently involved with many on-going programs and events relating to radon. Use the tabs on the left hand side of this page for specific details on each program or call (217) 787-5864 with questions.

What is radon?
Radon is an odorless, colorless, tasteless gas that is produced by naturally decaying uranium and radium.

Home Buyer's Guide: What you need to know about Radon

What are the health effects of radon?
Exposure to radon gas increases your risk of developing lung cancer. The EPA estimates that 21,000 lung cancer deaths each year in the United States are due to radon exposure, which makes it the second leading cause of lung cancer following smoking.

How does radon induce lung cancer?
Radon gas and its decay products in the air can be breathed into the lungs where they break down further and emit alpha particles. Alpha particles release a small burst of energy, which is absorbed by nearby lung tissue. This results in lung cell damage.

Is there a safe level of radon?
Your risk of developing lung cancer from radon depends on the concentration of radon in the air you breathe and the length of time you are exposed. While radon is common outdoors, it is diluted to very low levels and is not a concern. However, radon that enters an enclosed space, such as a home, can sometimes accumulate to high levels. EPA's recommended action guideline level for radon is four Picocuries per liter of air (pCi/L). The average indoor level is estimated to be about 1.3 pCi/L; and 0.4 pCi/L of radon is found in the outside air.

Where can radon be found?
Click to Enlarge Radon is produced by naturally decaying uranium and radium. Uranium and radium is naturally found in soil and rock throughout the world. It is typically concentrated in areas with lots of granite, shale, phosphate, and pitchblende. Radon gas is drawn into homes or buildings through cracks in the foundation or slab and through unsealed pipes, sumps, drains, walls and other openings such as crawl spaces.

How do you find it?
To find out the quantity of radon in your home, you have to test your home for radon. The American Lung Association, the EPA, and the Surgeon General recommend testing all homes for radon. Testing for radon is simple and relatively inexpensive. There are two general tests for radon:

Short-Term: Depending on the device used, short term measurements last in duration from 48 hours to 90 days. The most common short-term tests are charcoal canisters, electret ion chamber, and continuous monitors. Because radon levels tend to vary from day to day and season to season, short-term tests are less likely to measure your annual radon exposure.

Long-Term: Long-term tests remain in your home for more than 90 days. Alpha track and electret detectors are commonly used for this type of testing. A long-term test will give a more accurate annual average radon level than a short-term test for your home.

Test Kit Purchase Options
The only way to tell how much radon is in your home is to test for it. By testing your home for radon, you are taking a step toward a healthier indoor environment for you and your family.

If you are interested in receiving a radon test kit with a donation to the American Lung Association of the Upper Midwest, please follow this link.

What Do My Results Mean?
If the result is less than 4pCi/L- no action is required. It is recommended to retest the house every two years or if renovations or additions are made to building. A long term test can also be done in order to better understand the average year-round radon concentration.

If the result is more than 4pCi/L but less than 8pCi/L, perform an additional Short-Term test. If the average of the two tests is less than 4pCi/L, no further action is required. Retest in 2 years or if any renovations or additions are made to the building. If the average of the 2 tests is 4pCi/L or more the home needs to be mitigated.

If the result is more than 8pCi/L it is recommended that a confirmation Short-Term test is performed. If the second test shows radon levels equal to or greater than 8pCi/L, mitigation is strongly recommended. If the second test shows radon levels below 8pCi/L, a Long-Term is recommended to develop a better understand of the annual average radon level in the home.

What You Should Know About Radon Gas Before You Take Drastic Measures?

In November of 2007, a national television show featured a family living in a home with elevated levels of radon gas. Radon gas poses a serious health threat at certain levels, but the threat can be alleviated with proven and effective mitigation systems. The producers of the television program, however; decided to take a more dramatic approach to the problem…they detonated the house with explosives.

Unfortunately, the television show left a lasting impression on how to deal with radon gas. Even with this drastic measure, they still had to install a mitigation system in the newly reconstructed home to alleviate the radon problem.

The American Lung Association is taking the opportunity to educate the public on the principles of Radon testing and mitigation by taking humorous look at this action. Please take a look at our fun video response by clicking on the video above.


American Lung Association of the Upper Midwest® Health House®
Our Mission: Providing a foundation for Healthier Indoor Environments
3000 Kelly Lane
Springfield, IL 62711
Toll Free: (800) 788-5864
Local: (217) 787-5864
Fax: ( 217) 787-5916