Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas that is colorless, odorless, and tasteless.
Radon is released in rock, soil and water from the natural decay of uranium. When outdoors, the threat of radon is low, but indoors radon can accumulate to unsafe levels if the gas has nowhere to escape the home.
As radon travels through the soil it can move through small spaces in a homes foundation to enter inside the building. These small spaces include floor drains, sump pits, crawl spaces, cracks in foundation, and gaps around pipes and wires.
When radon gas is breathed in, the particles can get trapped in your lungs. It may take years before health problems occur, but over time the radon particles increase the risk of lung cancers.
Radon is the 2nd leading cause of lung cancer, the 1st is smoking. People who smoke and are exposed to radon have 10 times more risk of developing lung cancer.
Radon is estimated to cause around 21,000 deaths from lung cancer each year.
Levels of Radon and their Impact
The average concentration of radon outdoors is 0.4 pCi/L, and the national average for indoor concentration of radon is 1.3 pCi/L.
The EPA's recommended action level for radon is 4.0 pCi/L. Radon with that concentration is equivalent to a nonsmoker smoking 8 cigarettes per day! It is recommended to take action and mitigate the radon if the level in your home is above 4pCi/L.
How Prevalent is Radon?
Below is the EPA's Radon Map for the United States. It is useful for understanding if your home is likely to have high levels of radon. The radon map is based on averages of radon levels in the area tested. As indicated by the map, high and low levels of radon can be found in all zones.
Below is the EPA's Map of Radon Zones in Illinois. Just like the country zone map, the Illinois map is made from averages. Peoria County is one of the counties listed in the red, danger zone.
Peoria County is has an average national indoor radon level of 6.9 pCi/L, while the national indoor radon average is 1.3 pCi/L. This means that the average indoor radon level in Peoria County is higher than the EPA recommended action level.
Radon levels can fluctuate from house to house, so regardless of the zone in which you are located, you should have your home tested.
When to Test for Radon?
If the home has never been tested before or the level of radon in the home is unknown.
When preparing to buy or sell a house.
Before and after renovations, especially if the repairs were made to mitigate the level of radon in the home.
Before making any lifestyle changes in the home that would cause someone to spend more time in the basement or lower level (like converting a basement to a bedroom).
Test for radon during winter or fall months. Since your home is closed up, radon levels are typically highest during cold months.
Where can I get a Radon Test Kit?
Radon test kits are available for sale at most home improvement or hardware stores.
Test kits for homes are also available in limited numbers at Peoria City/County Health Department.
You can find more information on low-cost radon testing devices at the IEMA Radon Page.
Where can I get Radon Mitigation Help and Information?
Limited funds are available through the Edwards Settlement Agreement for radon testing and mitigation in some Peoria County zip codes, as well as in Tazewell County. Find out if your home qualifies by calling Peoria City/County Health Department Radon Program at 309-679-6120.
Other mitigation information and a list of licensed professionals and mitigation tag orders can be found on the Illinois Emergency Management Agency website IEMA or through the IEMA Information line at 800-325-1245.