Frequently Asked Questions

Where does Radon come from?
What is the "acceptable" level of radon?
What do I do when I find high radon levels in my home?
I'm thinking of buying a home with a radon mitigation system installed. What should I look for in order to make certain it is working properly?
What are the advantages and disadvantages to having a mitigation system installed?
We are thinking of selling our house and buying another. Where can we get some guidance on what to do about a potential radon problem at either location?
How do I test for radon and can I do it myself?
Are there other symptoms of health problems, other than lung cancer, that are associated with radon gas exposure?
What are the risks from radon gas?
Where can I obtain copies of the EPA's publications about radon?

Where does Radon come from?
Radon gas is a radioactive material that is naturally occurring and comes from the soil. It is a decay product of Radium, another radioactive material, which is also naturally occurring.

What is the "acceptable" level of radon?
The US EPA has established the "action level" for deciding when you need to do something about the radon in your home, school, or work place at 4 pCi/L. One pCi/L means that in one liter of air there will be 2.2 radioactive disintegrations (events) each minute. For example, at 4 pCi/L there will be approximately 12,672 radioactive disintegrations in one liter of air, during a 24-hour period. You can read or download a copy of the US EPA's "A citizen's guide to radon". This publication goes into greater detail describing the meaning of your radon test results and what your personal hazard from the exposure may be.

What do I do when I find high radon levels in my home?
Answer this first by asking: Have you retested to confirm that the levels are actually too high? In other words, if a short-term test (2-7 days) was used, did you conduct an additional test and the average of the two tests taken or was the reading from a long term test taken for 90 days or more? Radon levels can vary from day to day so conducting one short-term test may not reflect the true level of your home. 

If you have, and want to fix the problem; Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) has a list of mitigation specialists qualified to install mitigation systems in your home. The cost can range from $500 to $2500 depending on the size and construction of the home. Lists of mitigation specialists can also be obtained from the National Radon Safety Board (NSRB) and National Environmental Health Association (NEHA) websites. They are www.nrsb.org and www.radongas.org respectively.

I'm thinking of buying a home with a radon mitigation system installed. What should I look for in order to make certain it is working properly?
First of all, look at the system to locate any information that may pertain to who installed it and any warranty information. If none can be found, contact a mitigation specialist to inspect the system.

What are the advantages and disadvantages to having a mitigation system installed?
The primary advantage is a lower radon level in your home if the system is installed and operating correctly. A disadvantage is a small increase to your energy bill due to a small fan continually running. An additional disadvantage is the noise of the fan from an improperly installed system.

We are thinking of selling our house and buying another. Where can we get some guidance on what to do about potential radon problems at either location?
Currently Missouri has no regulations regarding radon, however, you can download a copy of the EPA's Home Buyer's and Seller's Guide to Radon or we can send it to you. This pamphlet is loaded with testing suggestions and other information that you should find very helpful.

How do I test for radon and can I do it myself?
One way is to have a professional come in who offers a radon testing service. These services may run as high as $300. Another way is to conduct it yourself with a home test kit. These kits can be purchased at most hardware stores for around $10 to $20, which includes the cost of mailing and reading the results. If you purchase a kit, ensure that the kit meets the performance requirements in the US EPA radon gas measurement proficiency program which should be stated on the box.

There are two type of kits that can be purchased. The first is a short-term test kit (2-7 days) and the other is a long-term test kit (3-12 months). If a short-term test is used, you should consider running a second test later and the two tests averaged to obtain a more accurate reading.

Are there other symptoms of health problems, other than lung cancer, that are associated with radon gas exposure?
There are no short-term radon exposure symptoms that have ever been documented. You will not have any other bodily symptoms such as joint pain, stomach or intestinal problems, headaches, or rashes from short-term radon exposure at natural environmental levels (pCi/L or less).

What are the risks from radon gas?
The US EPA risk analysis table found in "A Citizen's Guide to Radon" indicates that at the 4 pCi/L radon level 7 out of 1000 people have the possibility of developing lung cancer. The chances of lung cancer increase greatly if a person smokes tobacco products.

Where can I obtain copies of EPA's publications about radon?
Information can be obtained from DHSS or by visiting EPA's website at www.epa.gov/iaq/pubs/index.html.