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About Radon

Surgeon General Health Advisory, January 2005

"Indoor radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States and breathing it over prolonged periods can present a significant health risk to families all over the country. It’s important to know that this threat is completely preventable. Radon can be detected with a simple test and fixed through well-established venting techniques."

What is radon?

Radon is a naturally occurring, radioactive gas that cannot be sensed, only detected with radon-specific measuring equipment. Radon is a “soil gas” that comes from the decay of uranium found in granite and shale, rocks and soils common to North Carolina and throughout parts of the United States. The concern arises when radon enters your home from the soil beneath it, primarily due to natural pressure differentials between the rising warm air inside your home and the relatively cool air in the soil pores below the foundation. This primary pressure differential "driving force" of radon entry into the home fluctuates from season to season, and even hour to hour.

The health risk of radon gas present inside a home is that, when radon decays, it forms airborne, electrically charged “sticky” decay products that can be inhaled, stick to vulnerable lung tissues, and continue to emit alpha particle radiation that damages lung cells. Risk is a product of the amount of radon decay product exposure and the length of exposure at that average level.

The EPA’s 2003 Assessment of Risks from Radon in Homes (EPA 402-R-03-003) estimates 21,000 radon-specific deaths per year. The EPA also concluded that the effects of radon and cigarette smoking are synergistic, so that smokers are at an even higher risk from radon. The EPA estimates that 1 in 15 homes nationwide have elevated radon levels above 4.0 pCi/L (measurement of emitted radiation per volume of air). For radon levels over 4.0 pCi/L, the EPA and Surgeon General recommend that the home be equipped with a permanent radon mitigation system to reduce the radon entry into the home within acceptable levels.

Helpful Radon Links