Radon is an invisible, odorless, colorless gas that is released through the decay process of uranium, radium, and thorium, which are present in rocks and soil. About 37% of our radiation exposure in the U.S. comes from radon, and although radon typically exists in low levels outdoors, if it enters a home or other building through cracks in the foundation, floors, or walls, it can accumulate to dangerous, even life-threatening levels.
Radon gas is labeled as a Group 1 carcinogen, the most dangerous designation that a substance or exposure circumstance can receive, by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). This means that radon gas is known to cause cancer. 1 person dies every 25 minutes in the United States alone from radon-induced lung cancer—that’s 21,000 people every year! Radon causes more deaths annually than carbon monoxide, pesticides on food, asbestos, and outdoor pollutants combined, yet many homeowners don’t know about the threat of this environmental health hazard and how easy it is to keep their homes and families safe.
Radon gas decays into radioactive particles that can get trapped in your lungs when you breathe. As they break down further, these particles release small bursts of energy. This can damage lung tissue and lead to lung cancer over the course of your lifetime. Not everyone exposed to elevated levels of radon will develop lung cancer. And the amount of time between exposure and the onset of the disease may be many years.
Yes, you do. All houses should be tested. In levels of high radon such as Heber, area code 84032, where the radon levels are 69% and above, you need to test. If you live in old Sandy, area code 84070, where the average radon level is 12%, you should test. Do you want to be the person who draws the short straw? If your levels are above 4 pCi/L you should have your house mitigated. If your levels are between 2 and 4 pCi/L you may choose to further reduce your levels of radon. There is not a “safe” level of radon, as it is always dangerous.
Yes, you do. Radon levels are found in all three types of construction: basements, crawl spaces and slab on grade. There is also a misconception that walkout basements do not have problems with high radon levels. This is false.
There are several types of radon testing. The easiest way to test for radon is to do a short-term test from the State of Utah using a charcoal test kit. You send away for a test kit, follow the instructions, set up the test kit from 48 to 72 hours, send the test kit back via PRIORITY MAIL, and receive the results. The test kits cost about $9.00 including laboratory fees. If you want a longer-term test (from 91 to 365 days) you can use an alpha track to get the results. If you are in a real estate transaction, you should use a professional tester listed by the National Radon Proficiency Board who will use and hourly continuous monitor to get the 48-hour test results.
If you are renting out your properties, we highly recommend that you test for radon levels and lower them to the suggested levels if needed.
If your house tests below 4 pCi/L, you do not have a problem according to the EPA. If your levels are above 4, you should take corrective actions to reduce your levels to below 4. Over 1/3 of the houses in Utah that have elevated levels of radon.
The average cost to install a radon system is approximately $1,500. If you have a crawl space, the cost elevates to around $3,000.
If you have tested your house, the seller’s disclosure form will address the levels. Let the potential buyers know who performed the test and how long ago the test was. You are not required to test your house for radon.
The EPA has set radon levels as the 4 pCi/L. While this goal is not yet technologically achievable for ALL homes, radon levels in many homes can be reduced to 2 pCi/L or less. A radon level below 4 pCi/L still poses a risk. You should start to consider investing in a radon mitigation system when the radon level is between 2 and 4 pCi/L.
It is very rare that a countertop will release dangerous levels of radon. A reasonable approach for testing for radon in countertops should include three radon tests done at the same time. The first is a radon test close to the granite countertops. A second would be in a room on the same level such as the living room. Third and most important simultaneous test would be done in the basement. If the basement test results show elevated radon level, the source is soil radon gases and not the granite countertop.