Radon in the Home
Radon is an odorless, invisible, radioactive gas that can enter your home from the ground through cracks in the foundation. A known human carcinogen, radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer.
Pennsylvania has one of the most serious radon problems in the United States. Approximately 40 percent of Pennsylvania homes have radon levels above Environmental Protection Agency's action guideline of 4 picocuries per liter.
You can search for
radon test data by zip code, but hands down, the smartest thing to do is to test your home for radon, no matter where you live. Protect yourself and your loved ones: Do a home radon test.
Contact the Radon Division
Radon Hotline: 800-237-2366
Lunchtime Live: How to Test Your Home for Radon, January 25
Noon - 12:30 pm, Monday, Jan. 25, 2021
Doing a simple radon test is part of making your home a healthy place. Radon Program Manager Bob Lewis discusses why it's important for Pennsylvanians to test their homes for this invisible gas, and how to do it, and answers questions from viewers. Learn everything you need to know to test your home in this informal Lunchtime Live discussion.
Testing Your Home is Easy
Testing is the only way to know if your home has elevated levels of radon. An easy home test kit can be purchased at hardware or home improvement stores for about $20 to $30. You may also hire a state-certified testing company. Because radon levels are often highest in the basement, placing your test there is a good idea. However, radon levels can also be high above ground, even in homes without basements, so the ground floor is also a good location to test.
How to test your home for radon
What To Do If Your Home Radon Results are High
Confirm the Results
If your radon test results are higher than 4 pCi/L, consider doing a second test to confirm the results. If your radon test result is 4-8 pCi/L, you can do a second long-term (365 days) test to get a better idea of the annual average or do another short-term test (2-7 days). In either case, if the result is still 4 pCi/L or higher, you should take corrective action to reduce the radon levels in your home.
Have a Certified Contractor Install a Radon Reduction System
Contact any of the certified radon mitigation contractors in your area. Use our
mitigator list, sorted alphabetically by county, to find a mitigator near you. Have them come to your home and give you ideas and estimates for the installation of a radon reduction system.
The installation should take less than a day. After the system has been running for at least 24 hours, the installer should perform a follow-up test to make sure radon levels have been successfully reduced.
How a home radon reduction system works
Monitor the System Over Time
Periodically look at the U-tube manometer that has been installed on the PVC piping of your system to make sure the fan is running. The fan is running if the levels of fluid on each side of the glass tube are uneven. If the fluid levels on each side of the glass tubing are even with each other, the fan may not be working properly or may be off completely. In this case, you should call your installer to have them look at the fan and system.
The second aspect of monitoring your system is performing a radon test, generally in the basement and preferably during the heating season, once every two years.
How DEP Can Help
Newborn Testing Program
Through an EPA-funded program, hospitals give parents of newborn children a packet of information which includes a coupon for a free radon test kit from the DEP.
Test Results Confirmation: Free Kits
- All Pennsylvanians who’ve tested their homes or other buildings for radon and found screening levels greater than 100 picocuries per liter may receive a free short-term confirmation test kit from the DEP Bureau of Radiation Protection. For this free kit, please call 800-237-2366 or 717-783-3594.
- If an active (fan-powered) radon mitigation system has been installed in your home within the last year, you may receive a free, long-term radon test kit (Alpha Track Detector). Send:
- Proof of system installation
- Copy of post-mitigation test result below 4 picocuries per liter
Department of Environmental Protection
Bureau of Radiation Protection
P.O. Box 8469
Harrisburg, PA 17105-8469
or fax to Radon Division, 717-783-8965
Please allow 6-8 weeks for processing.
More Helpful Resources for Homeowners
EPA radon website has a lot of information on radon’s health hazards and radon levels, testing, and mitigation.
- The EPA has great information for parents concerned about
radon at their children's school.
- The National Academy of Sciences
publication on Risk Assessment of Radon in Drinking Water is the most recent authoritative work on the issue of radon in drinking water and its health effects. Scroll down and read the Executive Summary.
- Check out the Resource tab at
Radon Leaders, a collaborative website of the federal government, states, and industry all involved with the promotion of radon awareness.
- The U.S. Geological Survey provides some great basic information on
radon and geology.