Muhlenberg County Health Department Radon Gas Information
The Kentucky Radon Program is involved in educational and awareness programs for citizens throughout the commonwealth, including exhibits and staff presentations, responding to phone and e-mail inquiries, and distributing radon awareness literature.
How Radon Gets Into Your Home
Radon is a radioactive gas. It comes from the natural decay of uranium that is found in nearly all soils. It typically moves up through the ground to the air above and into your home through cracks and other holes in the foundation. Your home traps radon inside, where it can build up. Any home may have a radon problem. This means new and old homes, well-sealed and drafty homes, and homes with or without basements.
Radon from soil gas is the main cause of radon problems. Sometimes radon enters the home through well water. In a small number of homes, the building materials can give off radon, too. However, building materials rarely cause radon problems by themselves.
Nearly 1 out of every 15 homes in the U.S. is estimated to have elevated radon levels. Elevated levels of radon gas have been found in homes in your state. Contact your state radon office for general information about radon in your area. While radon problems may be more common in some areas, any home may have a problem. The only way to know about your home is to test.
Any Home May Have A Radon Problem
Radon gets in through:
• Cracks in solid floors
• Construction joints
• Cracks in walls
• Gaps in suspended floors
• Gaps around service pipes
• Cavities inside walls
• The water supply
Test your home now and save your results. If you find high radon levels, fix your home before you decide to sell it.
How To Test Your Home For Radon
You can’t see radon, but it's not hard to find out if you have a radon problem in your home. All you need to do is test for radon. Testing is easy and should only take a few minutes of your time.
The amount of radon in the air is measured in "picocuries per liter of air," or "pCi/L.’ Sometimes test results are expressed in Working Levels (WL) rather than picocuries per liter (pCi/L). If you prefer, or if you are buying or selling a home, you can hire a trained contractor to do the testing for you. Make certain you hire an EPA-qualified or state-certified radon tester. Call your state radon office for a list of these testers.
There are two general ways to test for radon
Year-Long Testing: The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Kentucky Radon Program recommends that homes be tested for one full calendar year when practical. Alpha track and electret detectors are commonly used for this type of testing. A year long test will give you a reading that will give you your home's year-round average radon level.
Short-Term Testing: The quickest way to test is with short-term tests. The Kentucky Radon Program provides these cost free for Kentucky residents.
Contact your county health department or our office at the phone number listed above. Many kinds of low-cost do-it-yourself radon test kits are available through the mail and in hardware stores and other retail outlets. Make sure you buy a test kit that has passed EPA testing or is state certified. These kits will usually display the phrase Meets EPA Requirements.
Short-term tests remain in your home for 2 to 90 days, depending on the device. Charcoal canisters, alpha track electret ion chamber, continuous monitors and charcoal liquid scintillation detectors are most commonly used for short-term testing.
Because radon levels tend to vary from day to day and season to season, a short-term test is less likely than a long-term test to tell you your year-round average radon level.
What The Radon Test Results Mean
The average indoor radon level is estimated to be about 1.3 pCi/L, and about 0.4 pCi/L of radon is normally found in the outside air. The U.S. Congress has set a long-term goal that indoor radon levels be no more than outdoor levels. While this goal is not yet technologically achievable in all cases, most homes today can be reduced to 2 pCi/L or below.
Year long testing is the best way to determine what radon levels are in your home. EPA believes that any radon exposure poses some risk—no level of radon is safe. Even radon levels below 4 pCi/L pose some risk, and you can reduce your risk of lung cancer by lowering your radon level.
If your living patterns change and you begin occupying a lower level of your home (such as a basement) you should retest your home on that level. Even if your test result is below 4 pCi/L, you may want to test again sometime in future.
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