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Radon Measurement & Mitigation
Common Questions and Answers


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Links & Resources:

Visit the EPA Radon Page


Visit the NRPP Radon Page


Visit the AARST Radon Page


EPA Map
of Radon Zones


Visit the EPA Zone Map Page




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Fax: 503.244.6267
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NY Times 3/28/2012 - The Radon Threat Is Still With Us


What is Radon, and Where Does it Come From?
Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas formed from the decay product of radium-226 during the natural breakdown of uranium in soil, rock and water. Uranium is potentially present in all rock and soil. It is odorless, tasteless and invisible; testing with proper radon measurement equipment is the only way to determine the radon level in your home. The vast majority of radon in homes is emitted through soil, although water can also be a pathway. Radon gas usually follows the path of least resistance but can also be known to pass through solid concrete or similar obstructions. The amount of radon that escapes from the soil to enter a building depends on the source strength, soil porosity, foundation composition, and the negative pressure within the house.

Why is Radon Dangerous?
Radon is a known human carcinogen. As soon as radon gas is emitted it begins to decay into radioactive charged particles called isotopes. These isotopes are high-speed ionized particles called Radon Decay Products (RDP's) that cause cellular damage when inhaled. Inhaling indoor air containing radon can increase your risk of getting lung cancer, especially over a period of many years. In fact, the U.S. Surgeon General warns that Radon is the 2nd leading cause of lung cancer.

How much Radon is dangerous?
Radon levels are measured in "pico Curies per Liter" or "pCi/L." The higher the radon level, the greater the risk will be from long-term exposure. Average indoor radon levels are approximately 1.3 pCi/L whereas outdoor air averages 0.4 pCi/L. The current EPA action level for radon is 4.0pCi/L, though any home that is measured to be above 2.0pCi/L should be considered for mitigation.

How do I test for Radon?
Various testing methods and devices are appropriate for measuring radon levels. The ideal form of testing is long-term (90+ days-365 days). This is because the action level of 4pCi/L is a time-based average over an entire year. However, due to the need for rapid results in real estate transactions, short-term testing (2-90 days) is often used. For passive devices such as activated charcoal canisters, usually two simultaneous short-term samples are taken. To view and/or purchase short and long term DIY test kits,
Click Here. Another measurement option is a continuous radon monitor (CRM). A CRM takes an hourly reading over a 48-hour minimum period. It can detect any changes in the testing environment or if the device itself has been tampered with to ensure accurate results. These results are then read, averaged and interpreted by a qualified technician. This one continuous measurement is all that is required to make mitigation recommendations.

How often should I test for Radon?
If you are selling a home the EPA recommends that the home be tested before it is put on the market. If you are considering purchasing a home it is recommended that you know the indoor radon levels before buying. The EPA also recommends having a home tested for radon every 2 years or after any major renovations on the lowest livable level in the home.



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