Radon

Radon is colorless, odorless, and tasteless. The only way to know if your home has elevated levels of radon is to test for it. While it is naturally found outdoors, the way we build and live in our homes allow it to build up to dangerous levels inside.

Radon is the leading cause of cancer among non-smokers. It is responsible for approximately 21,000 deaths each year in the United States. The only way to know if your home has elevated levels of radon is to test for it.

* Radon is estimated to cause about 21,000 lung cancer deaths per year, according to EPA's 2003 Assessment of Risks from Radon in Homes (EPA 402-R-03-003). The numbers of deaths from other causes are taken from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's 2005-2006 National Center for Injury Prevention and Control Report and 2006 National Safety Council Reports.

Radon in Iowa: The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has set a recommended radon action level of 4 picocuries per liter (pCi/L). They recommend that all Iowa homes be tested for radon and homes over 4 pCi/L be fixed.

Iowa has the highest percentage of homes above 4 pCi/L in the nation. The average indoor radon level in Iowa is 8.5 pCi/L, more than six times the national average of 1.4 pCi/L. Even radon levels below 4 pCi/L pose some risk, and in many cases can be reduced.

Click here for Live Green & Healthy Public Service Announcement!

Listen to Eddie's Story. In Eddie's Story, the winner of EPA's 2008 "Test, Fix, Save a Life" video contest, lung cancer survivor Eddie Metcalfe shares his personal story, a powerful call to action for every American home to be tested for radon. Listen to: “Eddie’s Story”by Benjamin Schultz and Michael Gentilini, share it with your friends, and please have your home tested. Click here.

Dr. Oz discusses the #1 Cancer Risk at Home. Watch the Dr. Oz Show (February 10, 2011). Parts 1 and 2 are available via his website.

For physicians. Click here to watch the video "Breathing Easier" and what you can do to educate your patients about radon.

Radon is a radioactive gas that originates from the decay of uranium naturally found in the soils.

The health risk associated with radon is listed in the table below.

Radon Levela

Lifetime Risk of Lung Cancer Death (per person) from Radon Exposure in Homesb

a Assumes constant lifetime exposure in homes at these levels.

b Estimates are subject to uncertainties as discussed in Chapter VIII of the risk assessment.

c Note: BEIR VI did not specify excess relative risks for current smokers.

The average indoor level of radon in the United States if 1.4 pCi/L. The average indoor radon level in Iowa is 8.5 pCi/L, more than six times the national average. The United States' Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends that when radon levels are above 4 pCi/L, that you take action to reduce the level of radon in your home. There is no safe level of radon. EPA also recommends that you consider taking action when levels are between 2 to 4 pCi/L, weighing the cost of mitigation versus the potential health risk. The World Health Organization (WHO) has recommended a level of 2.7 pCi/L as the level to take action.

How do I test my home? Do-it-yourself test kits can also be purchased at Linn County Public Health, 501 13th Street NW, Cedar Rapids, Iowa. At this time, only cash or checks are accepted. If you have any questions on how to use the test kits, please contact us at (319) 892-6000 or visit our radon ordering instruction page by clicking HERE.

The Iowa Department of Public Health has informative resources available here. The US Environmental Protection Agency has many good and informative resources available here.

The information on the pages below may also be helpful.