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About Radon

General Information:

The most common source of indoor radon is uranium in the soil or rock on which buildings are built. As uranium naturally breaks down, it releases radon: a colorless, odorless, radioactive gas. Radon gas enters structures through dirt floors, cracks and pores in concrete walls and floors, floor drains and sumps. When radon becomes trapped in buildings and concentrations build up indoors, exposure to radon becomes a concern.

 

Any building may have a radon problem. This means new and old homes, well-sealed and drafty homes, and homes with or without basements. How bad a radon problem can be in any building depends on two things; 1) the strength of the radon source material under the building, and 2) the ease with which radon can enter the building.

Sometimes radon enters the building through well water. In Maine, this happens more than in most other states. The concern from radon in well water is not actually drinking the radon, but that the radon will be released to the air of the building during every water use. It is not unusual to see more radon in a building due to radon released from well water than from the rock and soil under the building.

A very small source of radon is some building materials, such as stone or cinderblocks. However, building materials such as these rarely cause radon problems by themselves.

Health Effects of Radon Exposure

The two facts to remember about radon exposure:

1) There are no symptoms associated with exposure to radon.

2) The predominant health effect associated with exposure to elevated levels of radon is lung cancer. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that radon causes about 14,000 deaths per year in the U.S.—however, this number could range from 7,000 to 30,000 deaths per year. If you smoke and your home has high radon levels, your risk of lung cancer is especially high.

Testing for Radon

Even though you can’t see or small radon gas, it is easy to test for it in your building. There are a variety of low-cost "do-it-yourself" radon in air or radon in water test kits you can get through the mail, or you can hire a trained professional do the test for you. The Maine Radiation Control Program regulates all radon service providers in Maine, and provides lists of those providers to the public. Those lists are available by calling the Maine Radiation Control Program’s Radon/IAQ Section (1-800-232-0842 or 287-5698).

How to Reduce Radon in a Building

Ways to reduce radon in your property are discussed in the Maine Radiation Control Program's Maine Citizen’s Guide to Radon and the Maine Consumers Guide to Radon Reduction. These documents do not discuss reduction of radon in water. The most reliable, most effective, least expensive method to reduce radon coming from the ground under a building is called sub-slab depressurization, and is usually referred to as sub-slab mitigation. It is a reliable solution that has been used by thousands of property owners.

Lowering high radon levels requires technical knowledge and special skills. You should use a contractor who is trained to fix radon problems rather than attempt this yourself.

A trained radon reduction contractor will ensure that the radon reduction method is installed most effectively in your home. Contact the Maine Radiation Control Program’s Radon/IAQ Section (1-800-232-0842 or 287-5698) for names of Maine registered mitigation contractors in your area.

Maine Resources for Radon

Testing Kits

Single or multiple kits for school projects or lessons:

Maine Radiation Control Program: Radon/IAQ Section

#10 State House Station
157 Capitol Street
Augusta, ME 04333
1-800-232-0842
(207) 287-5676

Radon and IAQ Contact: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
Radon Web Site

Telephone 1-800-232-0842 or 287-5698.

Information/Technical Assistance:

Maine Radiation Control Program: Radon/IAQ Section

#10 State House Station
157 Capitol Street
Augusta, ME 04333
1-800-232-0842
(207) 287-5676
Radon and IAQ Contact: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
Radon Web Site
Telephone 1-800-232-0842 or 287-5698.

Services provided:

General guidance and information about radon in Maine properties, as well as general IAQ information.

Other:

Indoor Air Pollution Fact Sheet – Radon Published by the American Lung Association. Available through the American Lung Association of Maine at (207) 622-6394.

Facts About Radon: The Health Risk Indoors Published by the American Lung Association. Available through the American Lung Association of Maine at (207) 622-6394.

Web Links

Maine Citizen’s Guide to Radon

Maine Home Buyer’s and Seller's Guide to Radon

Maine Guide to Radon Reduction

MIAQC Policy Statement on Radon

 

Maine Links:

Maine State Radiation Control Program

Other:

Canadian Home Mortgage Corporation: Radon: A Guide for Canadian Homeowners

National Environmental Health Association – Radon Proficiency Program. Provides a nationwide list of certified radon measurement or mitigation professionals

Comprehensive Article on Radon: Virtual Hospital: Radon Occurrence and Health Risk

This page was last updated on 01/21/2010

 

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