Environmental, Health and Safety Services

Radon Information

Radon is a colorless, odorless gas that comes from the radioactive decay of uranium. The gas can come from the soil, water or building materials.

The 4 pCi/liter EPA suggested limit is established for residential living areas. This limit can be adjusted by the percentage of use for areas such as unfinished basements.

In the home radon levels fluctuate widely due to seasonal differences. Generally the winter months show higher levels than the summer months (less ventilation in winter).

Two types of radon tests are available - short term and long term. The short-term test is usually done for up to 5 days. Because of the short exposure period, these values can be plus or minus 20% - 30% of the true value. The long-term test is done for about 3 months (alpha track etch system) and is very accurate at plus or minus 5% of the true value.

To determine the radon levels in the home, a short-term test can be done as a screening method. If > 4 pCi/l are found, a long-term test should be done to substantiate the results. No remedial actions should be taken based on a short-term test.

Two reputable companies that provide this service are:

Landauer at 1-800-528-8327 for long- and short-term test kits

AIRCHEK at 1-800-247-2435 for short-term test kits

Local stores such as Lowes and Walmart sell these kits.

Short term test = $10-$15

Long term test = $25-$30

Radon exposure causes a risk of lung cancer. Years of exposure are needed before lung cancer develops. Thus, a panic type response must be discouraged. If levels have been found high with a long-term test, remedial actions can be taken. Some examples are slab sealing, increased ventilation and increase of outside air intake.