Difference between safe and acceptable levels of radon
To answer what are safe and acceptable levels of radon gas, we must answer each individually.
To put it simply, there is no safe level of radon gas. Radon gas is a carcinogen that causes lung cancer. The US EPA puts it as, “Any radon exposure has some risk of causing lung cancer. The lower the radon level in your home, the lower your family’s risk of lung cancer.” The home is your family’s biggest risk to receive high doses of radiation than all other combined exposure, natural or man-made. Radon gas is a naturally-occurring byproduct of the radioactive decay of Uranium in the soil. Depending on your geographic location, the radon levels of the air you breathe outside of your home may be as high as 0.75 pCi/L. The national average of outside radon levels is 0.4 pCi/L and it is estimated by the National Academy of Sciences that outdoor radon levels cause approximately 800 of the 21,000 radon induced lung cancer deaths in the US each year. Your risk of lung cancer increases substantially with exposure to higher radon levels. Lung cancer risk rises 16% per 2.7 pCi/L increase in radon exposure. (World Health Organization, 2009) Studies have shown that radon gas is the leading cause of lung cancer among non-smokers.
Radon Act 51 passed by Congress set the natural outdoor level of radon gas (0.4 pCi/L) as the target radon level for indoor radon levels. However, today two-thirds of all homes exceed this level. The US EPA was tasked with setting practical guidelines and recommendations for the nation. The US EPA has set an action level of 4 pCi/L. At or above this level of radon, the EPA recommends you take corrective measures to reduce your exposure to radon gas. This does not imply that a level below 4.0 pCi/L is considered acceptable, as stated in the BEIR VI study. It is estimated that a reduction of radon levels to below 2 pCi/L nationwide would likely reduce the yearly lung cancer deaths attributed to radon by 50%. Evidently, even with an action level of 2.0 pCi/L, the cancer risk presented by radon gas is still hundreds of times greater than the risks allowed for carcinogens in our food and water.
The WHO Handbook on Indoor Radon: A Public Health Perspective indicates that radon exposure is a major and growing public health threat in homes and recommends that countries adopt reference levels of the gas of 100 Bq/m3 which is equivalent to 2.7 pCi/L.
Trust a professional radon mitigation company
Although there is no completely safe level of radon gas, just as in life we must find the balance benefits vs. the cost to find our own acceptable level. When we go outside, we expose ourselves to UV radiation and increase our risk for skin cancer. We drive automobiles that have a 1 in 86 deaths due to auto accident, yet these are risks we take. Similarly, radon gas is another of life’s risks that we must take on a daily basis. However, we can choose to go tanning, or to drive a car. We have no choice but to breathe the air in our homes. A simple and inexpensive radon test from 86theRadon can give you all the information you need to make the right decision about what level of exposure to radon gas is acceptable for your family.