Because radon is invisible and odorless, the only way to know if you’re at risk is to have your building tested. If radon is detected, it can be fixed with a radon mitigation system. Below are links to some basic information you should know about radon and its potential risks.
What is Radon?
Radon is a naturally occurring gas formed by the decay of uranium. Found in soil and groundwater, radon creeps into homes and buildings through cracks, drains and other voids in basement floors and walls. It may also enter through water faucets.
Colorless, odorless and tasteless, radon is the second-leading cause of lung cancer. According to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates, radon-related lung cancer causes over 21,000 deaths in America each year. (More radon risk information)
Eastern Nebraska and all of Iowa are in the highest priority zone for radon. One out of every two homes in Nebraska — seven times the national average — is expected to have radon levels that exceed EPA’s recommended action level of 4.0 picocuries per liter (pCi/L) of air.
The average outdoor level of radon in the U.S. is about 0.4 pCi/L, and the average indoor level is 1.3 pCi/L. By contrast, the average level in Nebraska is 5.5 pCi/L, more than four times the national average and 1.5 pCi/L over the EPA’s action level.
For more information, visit www.epa.gov/iaq/radon.
There are a number of methods for testing for radon. The most common is a short-term test using one or more charcoal canisters. The canisters are placed in the building for 48 hours (minimum), after which they are sent to a laboratory for analysis. The results of the test tell you what the average concentration of radon was in your home at the time of the test. Special monitoring equipment can also be used to provide results immediately after the sampling period is completed.
If the short-term test’s results are above the EPA threshold of 4.0 picocuries per liter (pCi/L) but below 10 pCi/L, it is recommended that you take a long-term test. A long-term test lasts at least 90 days and give a more reliable sampling of the radon levels. Decisions concerning mitigation actions should be based on the findings of the long-term test.
If your initial test comes back above 10 pCi/L, the EPA recommends that you take a second short-term test immediately to confirm the results of the first test. If the average of the two tests is above 4.0 pCi/L, the EPA recommends mitigation action be taken.
Other testing methods that utilize real-time monitoring equipment are also available. The benefit of real-time measurements is that you get immediate results — you don’t have to wait to receive your results back from the lab.
There are a variety of ways to reduce the level of radon in a building. The most effective and most often used approach involves installation of a fan-driven ventilation system that evacuates radon gases from below the basement floor and discharges the gas safely outside.
Typical sub-slab depressurization mitigation system:
ARID Resources specializes in radon mitigation systems and is licensed by the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services.
Radon Concentration Zones
Iowa and eastern Nebraska area in the highest priority zone for radon. High priority zones are predicted to have radon levels that exceed the EPA’s recommended levels. The Nebraska Department of Health & Human Services has provided a breakdown of radon concentrations for Nebraska, which can be found here: Average Radon Concentrations by County in Nebraska.
National data on radon levels can be found on the here: EPA National Map of Radon Zones.