One in eight Vermont homes has unsafe levels of radon. Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas that has no color, smell, or taste. Radon comes from the decay of uranium, which is a radioactive element found naturally in the earth’s crust. Over billions of years, uranium decays into radium, and eventually, radon.
Unless you test for it, there is no way of knowing if radon is present in your home.
Health Effects of Radon
There are no known acute health effects connected with brief exposure to radon. However, over longer periods of time, breathing air with too much radon increases a person’s risk of lung cancer.
If you smoke and your home has high levels of radon, your risk of getting lung cancer is especially high. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that 86% of radon-related lung-cancer deaths occur among current or former smokers. Learn more.
The use of a long-term radon in air test kit is best because radon levels can change daily, weekly, and seasonally. We recommend that you test your home for three to 12 months (ideally including a heating season). Longer test periods ensure the most accurate measure of actual exposure. Free long-term radon in air test kits are available to Vermont residents. You can request one from the Radon Program by:
- Calling -800-439-8550 (toll-free in Vermont)
- Emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
The Health Department Laboratory offers medium- and short-term radon test kits. Call 802-338-4736 or 800-660-9997 or submit a kit request under Environmental Testing and Drinking Water Testing Order Forms.
Well water that contains radon may increase the level of radon in a home. Activities like taking showers, doing laundry, or running the dishwasher can release radon into the air.
Radon in water test kits can be ordered from the Health Department Laboratory or call 802-338-4736 or 800-660-9997 (toll-free in Vermont).
View or print the Radon in Your Home fact sheet for information on what your radon test result means and how you can fix a radon problem. Also see the EPA's A Citizens Guide to Radon for more information.
Radon, which is measured in units of picocuries per liter (pCi/L) of air, can be found both inside and outside your house. In Vermont, the average radon level in the outside air is 0.4 pCi/L and the average level in homes is about 2.5 pCi/L.
The EPA has set 4.0 pCi/L as the action level for radon. If your test result is at or above 4.0 pCi/L, you should seek help from a certified mitigation contractor to reduce radon levels in your home. Radon levels below 4.0 pCi/L still pose some risk, but you can reduce your risk by lowering the radon level in your home. Most radon reduction systems can reduce radon levels in a home to 2.0 pCi/L or lower.
If you have tested both your indoor air and your water for radon, using the Radon Contribution Calculator may help you estimate how much of the radon in air is due to radon in the water supply and how much is due to air entering the home through the foundation.
Vermont law does not require a radon test as part of a real estate transaction. For real estate transactions or other cases where a quick test is needed, the Health Department Laboratory, private labs, and building supply stores sell short-term radon test kits.
Short-term testing may be done in the basement if the buyer plans to use it as a living space. If you are using short-term test kits, the EPA recommends using two testing devices, placed side-by-side. See the EPA’s Home Buyer’s and Seller’s Guide to Radon for more information.
Check out the 2017 Radon Poster Contest winners from Vermont elementary and middle school students.
- Radon Information—EPA
- Frequently Asked Question about the Health Effects of Radon—Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
- Radon in the Home—CDC
- Radon in Schools
- Radon in Your Home Factsheet