Radon is an odorless and invisible radioactive gas naturally released from rocks, soil, and water. It can enter your home from the ground through cracks in the foundation.
Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States.
Radon enters your home through:
- Cracks in solid floors
- Gaps around service pipes
- Construction joints
- Cavities inside walls
- Cracks in walls
- The water supply
- Gaps in suspended floors
Pennsylvania has one of the biggest radon problems in the United States. It is estimated that 40% of homes in Pennsylvania have an elevated radon levels. The only way to know the radon levels in your home is to test for it. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends fixing your home if radon levels are above 4 picocuries per liter of air (pCi/L).Visit Pennsylvania's Department of Environmental Protection website to learn more.
Testing your home is easy
Pennsylvania law requires that all third-party persons performing radon testing, mitigation, or laboratory analysis in Pennsylvania be certified. Homeowner's or occupants may test their own home without being certified. Testing is easy and only takes a few minutes. You can search for radon test data by zip code, but hands down, the smartest thing to do is to test your home for radon, no matter where you live. Protect yourself and your loved ones: Do a home radon test.
Test kits may be purchased at a hardware or home improvement store for $20-$30. It is a good idea to test your home in the basement because that is where radon levels are usually the highest. Radon levels can also be high above ground, so homes without basements can be tested on the ground floor. Pennsylvania's Department of Environmental Protection has a video to help residents understand how to test for radon in their homes.
Ways to keep radon levels low
Since there is no safe level of radon, it is best to reduce the amount of radon in your home. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development recommends these actions you can take to reduce your risks of lung cancer and help lower radon levels in your home:
- Increase air flow in your house by opening windows and using fans and vents to circulate air. However, natural ventilation in any type of house is only a temporary strategy to reduce radon.
- Seal cracks in floors and walls with plaster, caulk, or other materials designed for this purpose.
- You can cover the earth floor in crawl spaces with a high-density plastic sheet. A vent pipe and fan can be used to blow the radon from under the sheet and vent it to the outdoors.
Always test radon levels again after you’ve made any of these changes to ensure these actions reduced the radon levels.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention offers more information about radon and ways to keep radon low in your home.
The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection has additional information about radon and videos about how to test for radon.