Protect your family: Test your home for radon
UnityPoint Health - John Stoddard Cancer Center

Protect your family: Test your home for radon

Mother and daughter standing in front of house.

What is radon?

Radon is a colorless, odorless, tasteless, radioactive gas that is produced from the decay of naturally occurring uranium in the soil. When radon gas enters buildings and is breathed in damage to the lungs can occur and cause lung cancer. 

What causes radon in homes? 

  • Radon can be found anywhere. Outdoor levels are usually very low, but indoor levels can be very high. 
  • It does not matter how old a home is or what type of foundation it has. The only way to know the level of radon gas in a home is to perform a test. 
  • Radon gas rises up through the soil and is pulled into a house or building. It enters through cracks in the foundation, construction joints, gaps around service pipes or wires and sump pits. 
  • It does not matter if you have a basement, crawl space or slab under your home. Your home could have high levels of radon.  Radon can also enter a home through well water. 

Who is at risk? 

Everyone is at risk for developing lung cancer from exposure to radon gas. Those who smoke and are exposed to elevated levels of radon have an especially high risk for developing lung cancer. 

Radon in Iowa 

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) surveys in Iowa have found that 7 in 10 homes contain radon concentrations above the US EPA’s radon action level of 4 picoCuries/Liter (pCi/L). (*American Lung Association in Iowa & Iowa Radon Coalition)

Testing for radon

The only way to know if your home has elevated radon concentrations is to test.

Testing is easy and inexpensive. Short-term tests can be done in 3-7 days with a kit you hang up in the lowest livable area of your home. Once complete remove the kit, seal the envelope and send in the mail to the already addressed lab for test results. 

If you do not wish to perform your own test, the Iowa Radon Hotline (1.800.383.5992) can provide a list of licensed radon measurement professionals. 

Where to get a radon test kit 

  • Blank Children’s Hospital Safety Store, located in the lower level of Anna Blank Building sells short-term radon test kits for below-retail cost ($8 per kit). 
  • You may also contact your county public health department for more information on where to get a test kit. 

Iowa Radon Websites 

  • What do my radon test results mean? Watch this video by American Lung Association.  
  • Finding a radon mitigation professional. Visit http://idph.iowa.gov/radon to find a list of professionals near you. 
  • Building a new home? Visit http://www.epa.gov.radon.rrnc/ for more information on radon resistant construction and testing.