Have You Tested For Radon

January 13, 2015

Radon is a colorless, odorless, naturally-occurring radioactive gas that may threaten

health in high concentration. It is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the U.S.  Any home in any community may have elevated levels of radon, even if other homes in the neighborhood do not.  Testing for radon is simple and inexpensive.   Once a radon problem has been identified, it can be fixed.

Radon is formed by the breakdown of natural uranium in rocks and soil.  In the open air, radon is so highly diluted that it poses no danger.  When it seeps into homes, it becomes trapped and can build to levels of concern.  As much as 55% of the radiation that people acquire over their lives comes from breathing in radon gas.  The risk of developing lung cancer from exposure to radon depends upon the concentration of radon and the length of time you are exposed.  Smokers increase this risk ten-fold.  Most radon-related health issues are caused from radon that circulates in the air which is why testing the air for radon is important.  Public water supply systems within the district are not an issue. Private water supply, like a well (or public water supply system that uses ground water, of which there are none in the district) can also be tested for radon, although this is a less common source of health-related issues. Drinking radon has a very small risk of stomach cancer. Most radon from water comes from showering and other household purposes like washing clothes or cooking. If your home tests high for radon and you have a well, you should test the water for radon.  

Any home can have a radon problem.  Most radon enters homes through ground level openings such as pipes, drains, and foundation cracks.  Most homes contain radon in the air.  But the concentration of radon in the air varies greatly from insignificant to hazardous levels of contamination.  The only sure way of knowing if your home contains excessive levels of radon is to TEST for radon.

Test for radon in the lowest level of your home containing a living area.  (You don’t need to test basements that are not used as a living area.) Most hardware and building supply stores sell testing kits.  Be sure the kit is EPA certified.  Short-term tests take air sample from 2-90 days.  A lab then analyzes the air sample and forwards the results to you.  There are also longer-term tests.  There are private companies that will conduct these types of radon tests.

If your home contains radon, cover and seal basement drains, pipes, and cracks. You should retest after treatment because some entry points can be missed. Even if no radon is detected during the second test, retest every few years.  (Entry points may open over time).  A contractor can install a venting pipe system that will draw radon from under the house and direct it back into the outside air.

QVHD has a limited number of free radon kits available for District residents (Bethany, Hamden, North Haven and Woodbridge.) Please do not request a free kit if you have received on in the past from QVHD. You can pick up a kit Monday mornings, 9:00 to 11:00 am or Thursday afternoons, 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. at the QVHD office through the month of January.  They cannot be mailed. For written information on radon, call QVHD or request on line, dculligan@qvhd.org Information is also available from the National Radon Hotline at 1-800-767-7236 and these internet sites: www.epa.gov/radon/pubs  or www.ct.gov/dph/radon