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Making homes greener and safer from radon

Release Date: 01/16/2008
Contact Information: Contact: Bonnie Smith, 215-814-5543, smith.bonnie@epa.gov

PHILADELPHIA (January 16, 2008) For people who are shopping for new homes, EPA has some good news. Radon-resistant construction practices are being used more frequently in new homes built throughout the country.

Radon is a cancer-causing naturally occurring gas that enters homes through foundation cracks, drains, and openings. Although you can’t see, smell, or taste radon, it can reach harmful levels if trapped indoors. Radon is the leading cause of lung cancer among nonsmokers and claims 20,000 lives every year.

“It's never too late to reduce your risk of lung cancer. Don't wait another day. Test your home for radon,” said EPA Regional Administrator Donald S. Welsh. “And, if you are building a new home, use the radon-resistant construction practices."

Radon-resistant construction techniques help reduce radon infiltration into a home. The techniques include gas permeable layers beneath the home’s slab, plastic sheeting, sealing and caulking, a vent pipe to redirect radon, a fan and junction box.

It is more cost-effective to use radon-resistant techniques while building a home, than it is to install in an existing home. For new homes, materials and labor costs are $350 to $500 compared to retrofitting an existing home for $800 to $2,500. Techniques vary slightly for different foundations and site requirements. The techniques may also increase your home's energy efficiency.

Based on the most recent analysis by the National Association Home Builders Research Center of homes built during 2001, 65,000 new homes incorporated radon-resistant features. This is six percent of the 1,124,000 new single-family detached homes built.

Whether your new home is new construction or not, EPA encourages you to test it for radon. A simple home test costs less than $25 and testing is the only way to detect radon levels. If your home is not new, a radon mitigation system can also be installed if your radon test levels are above the recommended levels of 4 pCi/l.

For tips about test kits and finding a qualified professional to fix a radon problem, contact your state's radon program at www.epa.gov/iaq/whereyoulive.html or visit the National Safety Council Web site at www.nsc.org/issues/radon.

For more information about radon, visit EPA’s Web site at www.epa.gov/radon or contact the radon program in each state, at www.epa.gov/iaq/whereyoulive.html. You can also call National Safety Council’s radon hotlines: 1-800-SOS-RADON (24 hour recording) or 1-800-55-RADON (to speak with a specialist), or 1-866-528-3187 (for Spanish speakers).

Editor's note: Information and an image showing the radon-resistant construction techniques available at http://www.epa.gov/radon/construc.html


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