Radon. What is it? Should I test for it? Should I even be concerned?

Radon.  What is it?  Should I test for it?  Should I even be concerned?

Radon is a unique environmental health risk.  It comes from uranium and radium natural decay.  Radon is a greater source of natural radiation than exposure to the sun, x rays or other medical devices.

Is this important?  Yes.  The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that radon causes approximately 100,000 lung cancer deaths in the US yearly.  Radon is considered the seventh-leading cause of cancer-associated death in the US.

How to measure radon?  Measure radon with a home kit.  Kits cost $15-25 and you use them in the home for 2-7 days.  If a home has a crawl space, test the living area above the crawl space.  Radon is measured in picocuries per liter of air (pCi/L).  If you smoke 8 cigarettes/day that equals 4.0 pCi/L.   Do not measure the soil level of radon.

What level is significant?  4.0 pCi/L is the level at which radon mitigation should be initiated.

How to mitigate radon?  Active or fan-powered soil depressurization is a standard approach to radon reduction and mitigation.  This may typically cost $1500.  Each state has different certification and license requirements to be a radon mitigation service.

Do you need to retest?  Yes, if the home has “settled” or the foundation has had structural changes.

How many homes have elevated radon levels?  6% of all US homes have radon levels over 4.0 Ci/L.  But, different parts of the country can vary greatly.  (70% of Iowa homes have elevated radon levels).

Want more information?  Call the National Radon Program Services (with the EPA) at 1-800-557-2366.  They are also known to have radon kits!  or radon kit coupons.

I hope this helps.


About drlesliegreenberg

I have been practicing as a family physician for over 20 years--as both an educator of physicians and clinician. From infancy to the elderly, I perform obstetrics and general medicine. I love my career and am passionate about my field of knowledge and my patients. Follow me on Facebook at Leslie Md Greenberg Medical Disclaimer The content of this website is provided for general informational purposes only and is not intended as, nor should it be considered a substitute for, professional medical advice. Do not use the information on this website for diagnosing or treating any medical or health condition. If you have or suspect you have a medical problem, promptly contact your professional healthcare provider.
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