Radon in Your Home

Radon in Your Home

One in seven Vermont homes has elevated 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. Radon is present in outdoor air, and radon levels can build up inside your home.

Unless you test for it, there is no way of knowing if radon is in your home.

Watch this video and hear one Vermonter’s story about the impact of high levels of radon in her childhood home.
 

How does radon enter my home?

Many factors contribute to radon entering a home. Neighboring homes can have significantly different radon levels from one another. . Here are some factors that impact radon levels in a home:

  • Concentration of radon in the soil and permeability of the soil under the home
  • Structure and construction of the home
  • Type, operation and maintenance of the home's heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) system

You can see the results of radon tests in your town or how the bedrock geology of Vermont relates to radon risk. View the Radon Risk in Vermont maps

Is radon harmful to my health?

Everyone is exposed to some radon in indoor and outdoor air. Breathing air with radon increases your risk of getting lung cancer over the course of your lifetime. Your risk of getting lung cancer from radon depends on the level of radon in the air you breathe and for how long you have been exposed to it.

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 about radon, smoking and lung cancer

How do I test my home for radon?
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 3 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:

Follow steps in this video to complete your long-term radon in air test kit:

Radon in Air Test Kit Instructions
Radon Testing Form

You can purchase long-, medium- and short-term radon test kits from the Health Department Lab. Call 802-338-4736 or 800-660-9997 (toll-free in Vermont) or fill out an online form.

Do I need to test my home during a real estate transaction?

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. Fill out an online form to request a kit from the Lab.

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.

What does my radon in air test result mean?

Radon, which is measured in units of picocuries per liter (pCi/L) of air, can be found both inside and outside your home. 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.

How can I fix (mitigate) a radon in air problem?

Radon in air problems can be fixed. There are two types of mitigation systems that can be installed. After the mitigation system is installed, test for radon again to make sure levels are below 4.0 pCi/L. 

Active Soil Depressurization (ASD)
An ASD is a very common system. It can be installed in many homes with varying foundation types. In most cases, this system involves installing a vent pipe and a fan to reduce radon entry into the home. 

Heat Recovery Ventilator or Energy Recovery Ventilator (HRV or ERV)
HRVs and ERVs exhaust air from a home and replace it with fresh outdoor air. Because supplying too much outdoor air can impact comfort and increase energy use, HRVs and ERVs are best used for moderate radon levels or to supplement an ASD system. HRVs and ERVs can also improve the air quality inside a home. 

You can search for a certified radon in air mitigation contractor at nrpp.info/pro-search or nrsb.org/find-a-pro.

Is there funding available to help me pay for radon mitigation?

There are programs to help eligible Vermonters fix health and safety problems in their homes, including radon problems. Read about the available programs to see if you qualify

Should I test my water for radon?

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.

Learn more about radon in water
Order a radon in water test kit for $25

Contact Information

Radon Program
108 Cherry Street 
P.O. Box 70 – Drawer 30
Burlington, VT 05402-0070
Phone: 802-863-7220 or
800-439-8550 (toll-free in Vermont)
Fax: 802-863-7483

[email protected]