In previous blog posts, we’ve shared ways to reduce radon, the signs of radon poisoning, why you should implement long-term testing, and more. Because there’s a lot of information about radon, sometimes it’s beneficial to go back to the basics, such as learning about radon levels and what they mean. By doing so, you’ll know how to respond accordingly and keep your family safe.
What Are Radon Levels?
Radon levels are the amount of radon gas in a specific area, typically in your home. They are measured in picocuries per liter (pCi/L), where
- “pCi” is the rate of radioactive decay of radon
- “L” refers to “per liter of air”
- Curie is a radioactive measure
- “pCi” is one-trillionth of a Curie
All properties have some level of radon in their home; in fact, small amounts of radon are actually harmless. For perspective, the average outdoor radon level is 0.4 pCi/L. According to the EPA, radon levels should be between 2 pCi/L and 4 pCi/L. However, it’s difficult to reduce levels below 2 pCi/L, but that’s where you should be aiming. If levels exceed 4 pCi/L, it can be very dangerous and lead to radon health risks, such as lung cancer. Note: Individuals that smoke are at a higher risk than non-smokers.
What Does Each Level Mean?
When you implement long-term radon testing, levels can read anywhere from 1.0 to 5.0+. For reference, approximately 40 percent of homes in PA have elevated radon levels. You can also search the average radon levels in your county with RadonZip.
The EPA recommends that you test your home every two years or sooner if you’ve recently renovated or altered your home. If radon levels come back elevated, you should do testing more frequently.
When reading the levels in your home, here are what some of the benchmarks means:
- 0.4 pCi/L: Average outdoor radon level (it’s difficult to reduce radon levels below 2 pCi/L)
- 1.3 pCi/L: Average indoor radon level (it’s difficult to reduce radon levels below 2 pCi/L)
- 2.0 pCi/L: Difficult to reduce levels below 2.0 pCi/L
- 2.7 pCi/L: Recommended “fix your home” action level, according to the World Health Organization
- 4.0 pCi/L: Recommended “fix your home” action level, according to the EPA (equivalent to your family smoking 8 cigarettes per day or receiving 200 chest x-rays per year)
- 5.0+ pCi/L: Extremely dangerous levels (10 pCi/L is equivalent to your family smoking a pack of cigarettes per day and receiving 500 chest x-rays in a year)
Note: If your home has levels between 2 pCi/L and 4 pCi/L, you should still mitigate radon in your home to prevent health risks.
What Health Risks Do Radon Pose?
According to the National Cancer Institute and the EPA, radon can cause lung cancer in smokers and non-smokers alike, but smokers are at higher risk. Radon represents a far smaller risk for lung cancer than smoking, but it is still the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States. Scientists estimate lung cancer deaths related to radon range from 15,000 to 22,00 a year in the US.
High levels of radon exposure can also lead to radon poisoning, where you could experience chest pain, coughing, coughing up blood, weight loss, fatigue, difficulty breathing, loss of appetite, and continuously getting bronchitis or pneumonia.
Contact Mold Medics
At Mold Medics, we’re dedicated to keeping you and your family healthy and safe. If you want to schedule a radon test or implement a radon mitigation system (or have questions), don’t hesitate to contact us. Our team is readily available to help and answer any questions you may have.
Additionally, we offer many valuable resources about radon (and mold!) on our blog and our website. Learn about how you can reduce radon in your home, the signs of radon poisoning, the importance of long-term testing, and more!