General Radon Information

Connecticut specific radon and radon level information can be found throughout this site. You will be able to find information about certified radon inspectors in Connecticut, as well as detailed radon level information for every county in Connecticut.

Radon is one of the natural elements present on earth. It is a colorless, odorless radioactive gas formed as a result of the radioactive decay of radium which, in turn, results from the decay of uranium. Most soils and rocks emit some radon although concentrations vary widely among towns and neighborhoods.

Exposure to radon increases your risk of developing lung cancer. As you breathe, radon enters your lungs and release small bursts of energy and particles that can damage lung tissue. Lung cancer may not occur for many years after exposure to radon. Not everyone will develop lung cancer, but your risk of developing it increases as the level of radon and the time you are exposed increases. When exposure to radon is combined with smoking or inhaling someone else's smoke, the risk may increase dramatically. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), radon causes more cancer deaths than any other single pollutant except tobacco smoke. They estimate that in the United States as many as 22,000 lung cancer deaths each year may be caused by radon. In Connecticut, as many as 300 lung cancer deaths each year are estimated to be caused by radon.

Special equipment or devices are needed to measure radon levels. The most common and easiest to use are the do-it-yourself activated charcoal detector and the alpha track detector. The activated charcoal (AC) testing device is appropriate for short-term screening tests of two to seven days. You can purchase an AC testing devices for $10 to $25 (including analysis). Since this device is sensitive to moisture, it should be placed away from sources of water and humidity. The alpha track (AT) device is used for long-term tests of three months to one year. It provides a measurement of the average radon exposure over time. Therefore, decisions on whether to reduce radon can be based on these results. You can purchase an AT testing device for $20 to $50 (including analysis). You can easily use these testing devices by following the manufacturer's instructions. You will receive your test device by mail. Conduct the test and mail it back to the company for analysis. Shortly after returning the test results by mail you should receive your results. You may prefer to have a trained radon measurement professional do the testing for you; this service will add to the testing cost. Other measurement devices available are the electret ion chamber and the continuous radon monitor. They may be more expensive test because they are complex to manufacture and required trained personnel to use. Your test results from radon measurement devices are reported In picocuries per liter (pCi/L), which is a measurement of radioactivity in air. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has used a guideline of 4.0 pCi/L as the action level for indoor air radon concentration since 1985. Note: This guideline was based on the technology available at that time for reducing radon. You should be aware their are health risks even from radon levels below 4.0 pCi/L.

Various mitigation techniques are available to reduce indoor air radon concentrations. Homes with radon levels in excess of the 4.0 pCi/L (action level) but less than 7 pCi/L may be temporarily corrected by sealing cracks and openings in the foundation.

Please note: Sealing cracks is a temporary solution until the home can be mitigated by a qualified contractor. The Connecticut Department of Public Health does not recommend sealing of cracks as a permanent solution and should not be used as the sole radon reduction technique.

Most homes can be successfully mitigated with a technique known as sub-slab depressurization. This system utilizes four inch PVC piping and a special fan to collect and transport soil gases including radon from under the foundation and exhaust them above the roof eave.

There are a number of other mitigation techniques available for use in different home construction styles.

Studies done by the Connecticut Department of Public Health and the Department of Environmental Protection have revealed the following about radon in Connecticut: (Source: The State of Connecticut Department of Public Health Radon Program 860-509-7367 University of Connecticut Cooperative Extension System American Lung Association)

1. One in five basements has radon levels above 4 picocuries per liter (pCi/L), the federal Environmental Protection Agency's guideline. So far, we have found radon levels as high as 483 pCi/L in basements.

2. One in ten first floors was found to have radon levels above 4 pCi/L. So far, we have found first floor radon levels as high as 112 pCi/L. Note: Even those homes with exceptionally high radon levels in the basement or upper floors have had successful radon reduction to below the EPA guideline.

3. The highest radon level found in a private well was 660,000 pCi/L; the average for all private wells tested was 3,000 pCi/L. Note: Radon reduction installations have successfully reduced high levels of radon in well water.

4. Although radon levels depend on the underlying bedrock and soils, state surveys did not identify any areas of Connecticut where homes were totally safe from radon. Elevated levels of radon occurred even in homes where the under- lying rock and soil were not expected to produce high levels of radon. For this reason every home should be tested.

5. Although radon levels can vary by home construction type, all construction styles have been found to permit radon entry.

6. Radon levels were not found to be affected by the level of energy efficiency of homes. Studies showed that energy efficient homes do not promote increased levels of radon. Studies show that radon levels which pose a health risk can be found anywhere in the Northeast, including Connecticut, despite the construction of the home or its location. That is why the Connecticut Department of Public Health, the American Lung Association of Connecticut and the University of Connecticut Cooperative Extension System recommend that all homeowners and apartment dwellers who live below the third floor test their homes for radon.