What is EPA’s Action Level for Radon and What does it mean?

The national and international health agencies are responsible for addressing the health risk caused by indoor radon and regulating its remediation process. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), is one of the independent executive agencies that has been tasked by the federal government of the United States to deal with environmental protection matters. To keep everyone safe from the harmful effects of radon gas, EPA created awareness by setting an action level for radon. This article discusses what EPA recommends homeowners to do once radon gas readings reach a certain level and what it means to you and your family’s health.

EPA’s Action Level for Radon

The EPA has developed remediation methods for effectively reducing radon levels in an attempt to reduce the risk of developing lung cancer because of radon exposure.

Presence of radon gas in the air

Radon is measured in picocuries per liter (pCi/L) which estimates the number of radon picocuries that are available in one liter of air.  A picocurie is a trillionth of a curie and a curie is a measurement of radioactivity.

The average indoor radon concentration level in America’s homes is considered to be about 1.3 pCi/L and the outdoor radon concentration level at 4 pCi/L. According to the EPA, you should have your home fixed if your radon level reads a maximum of 4 pCi/L or more. Since there is no safe level for radon exposure, the EPA further recommends fixing your home if the radon levels range between 2pCi/L and 4pCi/L. It is considered much safer if you can keep your radon level readings below what EPA recommends since it reduces your risk of exposure largely.

What Does It Mean?

  • Test Your Home For Radon

The fact that radon is an odorless and colorless gas does not mean you can determine its concentration levels in your home. It is easy to test for radon since this process only takes a few minutes to get results. You can find some low-cost radon test kits in hardware stores or other retail outlets in your area. If you are not sure whether you are getting accurate results, consider hiring a professional radon mitigation specialist to do the testing for you. A short test is less likely to give you detailed results because radon levels may vary from day to day or between seasons. Consider a long-term test to determine your year-round average level of radon exposure in your home.

  • Fix The Radon Problem In Your Home

One of the commonly used methods of radon remediation is the use of a vent pipe system and a fan. This remediation method works by extracting radon from beneath the house and then venting it outside (soil suction). This radon mitigation system does not require major adjustments to your home. All you need to do once the extraction process is complete is to seal off foundation cracks and any openings that could let in radon gas into your home. Professional radon contractors may use different remediation methods depending on the design of your home among other factors.

  • Keep The Radon Readings At The Lowest Level Possible

It is not easy to get rid of radon gas completely from your home but you can do something more to keep the levels at a bare minimum. As discussed before, there is no “safe” level of radon and the EPA recommended action level only acts as a warning signal to take action. This means that the lower your radon level readings, the safer you and your family can be because of the minimized exposure to radon.

The Risk of Living with Radon

Exposure to radon gas over extended periods could cause decayed radioactive particles to get trapped inside your lungs with every breath you take. These particles release minimal bursts of energy as they break down further, damaging the lung tissue. If this process continues over a prolonged period, it could lead to lung cancer, a deadly chronic disease that greatly affects your lifestyle. There is still some uncertainty about the extent of health risks caused by radon exposure. However, what stands out most is that it can cause lung cancer as seen in several cancer studies conducted in underground miners who were exposed to radon for long periods. If this problem is not addressed in time, it could pose a significant risk to your family’s health. 

Your chances of getting lung cancer from constant exposure to radon depend on the level of radon gas in your home, how long you are exposed and whether you have an underlying health condition or smoke often. It is important to keep radon levels at a minimum than the EPA’s recommended action level to ensure that you and your family are protected from harmful side effects of radon.