Radon Indoors

Radon is a naturally occurring, radioactive gas that can accumulate in enclosed places, such as a house. As radon moves through cracks in the soil, the gas can enter a house through cracks or other openings in the foundation and build up to unacceptable levels indoors. As radon gas is invisible and odorless, the only way to detect the presence of radon and determine the level is by conducting a measurement.

Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer after smoking, according to a recent report from the National Academy of Sciences. Radon in indoor air is estimated to cause about 21,000 lung cancer deaths each year in the United States. Smokers are at higher risk of developing radon-induced lung cancer. Lung cancer is the only health effect which has been definitively linked with radon exposure. There are no immediate health symptoms, as lung cancer would usually occur years (5-25) after exposure. There is no evidence that other respiratory diseases, such as asthma, are caused by radon exposure and there is no evidence that children are at any greater risk of radon-induced lung cancer than adults.

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) and the Surgeon General strongly recommend that all homes be tested for radon and, if levels are elevated, residents are urged to consider remediation. Four picoCuries per Liter (4 pCi/L) is the US EPA’s action guideline for the radon concentration in the air in occupied spaces of homes.

Indoor Radon Quiz

Which is true about radon?

A) colorless     C) odorless
B) gas               D) All of the above

How is radon formed?

A) Automobile pollution     B) From radium in the soil     C) Microwave ovens     D) All of the above


How does most radon enter a house?

A) Comes in from outside air C) From building materials
B) From the heating system   D) Through cracks in the foundation


Which part of a house typically contains the highest indoor radon level?

A) Basement     C) Kitchen
B) Attic                D) Garage


Who says radon is harmful?

A) U.S. Surgeon General                      C) U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
B) American Lung Association            D) All of the above


Which organ is affected by radon?

A) Heart            C) Kidney
B) Lung            D) Brain


What is the best way of determining if your home has elevated radon?

A) Conduct a measurement    C) Look at the soil
B) Ask a neighbor                     D) Smell the basement air


Which is true about radon?

A) Old homes have more radon                       C) Diet and exercise can reverse the effects
B) Radon can penetrate a concrete block      D) Some people are immune to the effects


Which group does not certify radon mitigation contractors?

A) Environmental Protection Agency   C) National Environmental Health Association
B) National Radon Safety Board           D) All of the above


Which is true about radon?  

A) Testing is easy and inexpensive     C) Houses can be built radon-resistant
B) Radon problems can be fixed          D) All of the above


Houses in which section of New York State have the greatest potential for elevated radon?

A) Southern Tier          C) Adirondacks
B) Long Island              D) bordering Lake Ontario and Erie


What is the recommended action level for indoor radon (picoCuries per Liter of air; pCi/L)?

A) 1 pCi/L        C) 4 pCi/L
B) 10 pCi/L      D) 20 pCi/L


Each year in the U.S., how many lung-cancer deaths are attributed radon exposure?

A) 210              C) 21,000
B) 2,100           D) 210,000