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What is Radon?

Simply put, Radon is a Radioactive Gas that can have dangerous effects, including causing lung cancer. It is a "type A" carcinogen. Radon is a radioactive element. It is a part of the radioactive decay chain of naturally occurring uranium in soil. Radon cannot be seen or smelled or tasted. While carbon monoxide and many other home pollutants adverse health effects are quickly produced, radon's adverse health effect - lung cancer - is usually not produced immediately. It is possible to be exposed to radon for many years without your knowledge.

  • Radon gas is an invisible, odorless and tasteless radioactive gas.
  • Radon gas is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States according to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). It is the leading cause of cancer among non-smokers.
  • Radon gas occurs from the natural breakdown of uranium and enters homes, schools and other buildings from the soil.
  • Every state in the U.S. has elevated indoor levels of Radon gas. This is also true for every county in Illinois.
  • The greatest single source of radiation exposure to the general public is Radon gas.
  • Frederich Dorn discovered Radon gas in 1900. He called it radium emanation. Radon gas has been known by its current name since 1923.
  • Stanley Watras brought Radon gas to the attention of the masses in 1984. Mr. Watras was a construction worker. He entered Limmerick Nuclear Power Plant in Pottstown, Pennsylvania. He set off the radiation monitors at the plant, even though there were no radioactive materials at the plant. The monitors went off because of Radon gas and Radon progeny clinging to his clothing and skin. With his urging, officials tested his home for radiation contamination and found high levels of Radon gas.
  • Stanley Watras' case prompted a regional testing program for Radon Gas. This information led the US EPA to launch advertising campaigns. In 1986, the Indoor Air Quality Research Act was passed. This Act prompted states to create their own Radon programs.
  • In Illinois, the IEMA Division of Nuclear Safety provides information about Radon gas. IEMA DNS also requires licensing for those professionals who test and mitigate for radon. For more information about radon from IEMA DNS, check out its website or call its toll-free voice recording at 1-800-325-1245.
How do you remove radon?

Radon reduction techniques are used to stop radon entry and reduce indoor radon concentrations. In the same way you would hire a licensed plumber, HVAC or other specialist for certain needs, IEMA recommends hiring a licensed Mitigation Professional to reduce your indoor radon concentrations.

Trained mitigators who use specialized equipment can discover where radon gas is entering a home and advise homeowners on the best way to reduce radon concentrations. "Subslab depressurization" (SSD) is the most common technique used by radon reduction firms and it does not require major renovations. To determine the effectiveness of the mitigation system, post-mitigation testing must be performed.

The cost of an active mitigation system is typically between $800 to $1200 for installation. The energy cost for running the fan will average around $100 per year.

*Special thanks to U of I & the IEMA for these facts on Radon.