How Location Affects Radon Levels
By Amber Brubaker
Are Home Radon Levels Higher in Some Locations Than Others?
When buying a home, your real estate agent or lender will likely bring up the topic of testing your home for radon. This is a common inspection done on homes throughout the world to detect dangerous levels of radon. The national recommendation is to have your home tested for radon at least once every two years.
It’s usually an optional test, and some homeowners choose not to have their home tested for radon due to the extra expense. However, if your home has toxic radon levels, testing and radon mitigation are vital for the health and safety of your family.
As it happens, radon levels inside homes tend to be higher in certain areas of the United States, and if you live in one of these areas, you should have your home tested for dangerous radon levels at least once every two years.
Where Radon Levels Are Highest
Radon is an odorless, tasteless, and colorless gas formed by radioactive decay of uranium found in rock, water, and soil. Homes that are built on decaying uranium deposits will trap poisonous gas inside for its residents to inhale.
Certain locations are more likely to have higher radon levels due to the higher uranium deposits in the area. If you live in one of these areas, you’ll want to have your home tested for radon and potentially have radon systems installed to mitigate the risk.
To help homeowners make an informed decision about testing for radon, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has developed a map showing where radon levels are typically detected. You can find the map here.
The map is color-coded, and areas with the highest levels of radon are in red. These regions are called Zone 1, meaning that the indoor radon screening levels are greater than 4 pCI/L, and radon mitigation is essential.
Zone 2 is featured in orange and shows mid-range radon levels that may or may not need radon systems. Zone 3 is yellow and shows areas where radon levels are not noteworthy and don’t need treatment.
States with the highest levels of radon include:
- South Dakota
You’ll also find many radon systems in Utah, particularly in the northeastern and central regions. These areas are categorized as Zone 1 and most homes in the area have high radon levels that require radon mitigation in Utah.
Where Radon Levels Are Lowest
If the highest radon levels are found where uranium deposits are plentiful, it follows that areas with little or no uranium in the earth will feature low radon levels throughout the region. Radon levels might also be low if other elements in the area help to dilute or eliminate any radon off-gassing.
The map also shows states that have the lowest radon levels. These include:
- District of Columbia
Hawaii boasts the lowest radon exposure in the U.S. Its porous volcanic rock helps to eliminate any risk of radon gas. This allows for air infiltration that helps to eliminate radon.
Other Factors That Affect Home Radon Levels
Consider other factors that might increase radon levels in your home when determining whether or not to have your home tested. Here are some of the most common:
- Homes with Basements: If any part of your home is built underground, you’re more likely to have higher radon levels due to the proximity of your home to the gas.
- Time of Year: When your heat is running, you’re more likely to experience increased radon levels.
- Weather Patterns: Stormy weather and high winds could alter the test results.
- Professionalism: Of course, the human factor plays a role in the accuracy of your test. If an unprofessional radon mitigation company handles the test or a DIY test is performed incorrectly, it could result in a false reading.
The Dangers of High Radon Levels
The EPA suggests that if your radon levels are higher than 4 pCI/L, you need radon systems to mitigate the problem. Otherwise, you could be breathing in radon gas without realizing it. If you’ve never run a test for radon, you don’t know how high the radon levels could be, exposing you to potentially grave danger.
When radon is inhaled in large quantities, it generates long term health problems. The most common health problems include high blood pressure, stroke, and lung cancer. For smokers, the chance of developing lung cancer when exposed to high radon levels is 10 times the risk for nonsmokers!
With this in mind, know how to combat radon in your state. For example, you might research “radon mitigation protocol Utah” to learn about the best companies to set up radon systems and keep hazardous radon levels under control.