EPA Region 3
Topic: Radon Testing
Date: January 15, 2010
Host: Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the U.S. In 2010, it is just as important to test for radon as it was in previous years.
Do you think testing your home for radon is just another one of these good-to-do 'green ideas?'
Hi, I'm Joan Schafer of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Mid-Atlantic region, and welcome to Environment Matters…our new series of podcasts. There are a lot of ways to make our homes green. But are they really worth the money and the effort? Will they do what the ads promise? Will they really help make our homes greener, our lives healthier and our planet safer?
EPA's Cristina Schulingkamp says homeowners may approach some of the home greening ideas with a bit of skepticism, but testing your home for radon is important for health reasons.
Cristina: Yes. radon is the number one cause of lung cancer in the United States for non-smokers.
While many health challenges may be tough to solve and expensive, radon testing is easy and inexpensive.
Host: Tell us how.
Cristina: Most people now have their homes tested for radon when they were purchased, but that may have been 20 years ago. EPA recommends that everyone test their homes for radon. Radon enters your home from the soil below, through cracks and crevices in the foundation. There are other opportunities also to test your home such as when you renovate your basement or anytime you cut into the foundation of your home. If your home is brand new, a few years after you purchased it, you should take another radon test because the foundation may have developed some cracks.
Host: And what do you do if the test shows a high reading?
Cristina: If the first test shows elevated levels of radon above four picoCurie per liter you can test. You can take a second radon test. Elevated radon levels can be reduced by installing a radon mitigation system which redirects the radon from underneath your home directly to the outside. Certain states certified contractors can install the radon mitigation system. Your state's department of environment protection or health department's radon program will have a list of certified contractors.
Host: And what is the cost involved in mitigation?
Cristina: Mitigation costs usually run from $1,000 to $2,500. If you're looking to purchase new construction, you can request that your builder to include the installation and radon mitigation system during construction. It's easier and economical rather than installing it later on. EPA also recommends that home buyers have any home that they purchased be tested for radon before they move in.
Host: Really, who needs to test their home for radon?
Cristina: Based on the national radon map, all of the mid-Atlantic states - - Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia, all have areas that are high for radon.
Host: Where can we look for additional help, Cristina?
Cristina: You can look on the EPA's website at www.epa.gov - keyword radon and that will give a listing of all our State partners and other non-profit organizations that also provide radon information.
Host: While we're talking about radon, let me remind you that EPA has a lot of good information and tips for improving the overall indoor air quality in you home.
If you'd like more information about radon and why it's important to test, please refer to EPA's radon website by going to www.epa.gov (g-o-v-).
Thanks for joining us on Environment Matters.
Cristina: You really just need to test your home. It's very important and lung cancer from radon is preventable.