Iowa Specific Radon Information: Radon in Iowa
What is Radon?
Radon is a colorless, odorless, tasteless, radioactive gas produced by the natural decay of uranium and radium in the soil. Exposure to elevated radon levels increases the risk of developing lung cancer. The EPA estimates that 21,000 lung cancer deaths each year in the United States are due to radon, making it the leading cause of lung cancer among non-smokers.
The United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) recommends that indoor levels of radon remain at a level equal or below 4.0 picocuries per liter of air (pCi/L) to decrease the risk of developing radon-induced lung cancer.
What is radon?
How does radon enter the home?
What is the risk in Iowa?
- All of Iowa is located in Zone 1 (red) indicating Iowans have a very high potential for elevated levels of radon gas.
- The average indoor radon concentration in Iowa is 8.5 pCi/L. More than six times the national average.
- Iowa leads the nation in the percent of homes over the 4 pCi/L action level as well as the percent of homes over 20 pCi/L.
- Based on data collected from radon home tests, the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) estimates that as many as 5 in 7 homes across Iowa have elevated radon levels.
- An estimated 400 deaths per year in Iowa are caused by radon-induced lung cancer, about the same number of annual deaths seen in Iowa for traffic fatalities. 1
Why is radon a problem?
How can you test your home for radon?
Do-It-Yourself radon test kits are low cost and easy to perform. Short-term test kits lasting 3-7 days or long term test kits lasting 1-12 months can be obtained from the American Lung Association of the Upper Midwest by clicking on this link or by calling 1-800-788-5864. When testing, be sure to follow directions on placement and time period closely and contact the Iowa Radon Program, American Lung Association of the Upper Midwest, or company that produced the kit with any questions regarding the testing procedure or interpreting the results.
If you do not want to perform the testing yourself, a list of Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) licensed radon measurement professionals can be found on the IDPH Radon Program website by clicking here and selecting the second available link on the page.
How do I test for radon?
What do my radon test results mean?
How do you fix a radon problem?
If tests show that your homes radon levels are above 4.0pCi/L it is suggested that you get a radon mitigation system installed. The most common and effective type of mitigation system is a vent pipe and fan system that draws air from underneath the foundation of the house and disposes of it outside. This radon mitigation system removes radon from under the foundation and vents it above the roof line of the house so that it does not enter the home. A list of Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) licensed radon mitigation professionals can be found on the IDPH Radon Program website by clicking here and selecting the second available link on the page.
The cost of a radon mitigation system can range between $800 and $2,500 (average $1,200) dependent upon characteristics of the building and the choice of radon reduction method.
How do you become licensed for radon services in Iowa?
If you are interested in becoming a licensed radon measurement or mitigation professional, please contact Rick Welke with the Iowa Department of Public Health at (515) 281-4928 with all questions and inquiries.
How can I get more information or talk to someone?
Additional information can be found in the Additional Resources and Publications section of the website.
The Iowa Radon Hotline can be reached by calling 1-800-383-5992.
You can contact the American Lung Association by calling 1-800-788-5864.
What is radon mitigation?
Is your radon mitigation system installed correctly and working properly?