Is radon gas really a big deal?
YES! High levels of radon gas can cause damage to the cells lining your lungs, which can lead to lung cancer. It may take years of elevated exposure before adverse health effects appear and are diagnosed by a healthcare professional. Exposure to radon gas is the primary cause of lung cancer among non-smokers. A smoker who is also exposed to radon has a much higher risk of lung cancer.3
Where does radon come from?
Radon can be found both indoors and outdoors. The average indoor level is much higher than outdoor levels, and nearly one out of every 15 United-States homes is estimated to have radon levels that are at or above EPA's action level of 4pCi/L.4
Most radon enters buildings through walls and floors that are in contact with the earth. There is an increased likelihood of radon in and around basements and foundations. Radon gas can enter through cracks in solid floors, construction joists, cracks in walls, gaps in suspended floors, gaps around service pipes, cavities inside walls, and in drinking water that comes from groundwater.
Everyone can take steps to minimize exposure to radon, including following OSHA standards, conducting air monitoring, and implementing controls.
Ensure compliance with all OSHA regulations that address radon exposure. Both OSHA's Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response and Ionizing Radiation standards include information on exposure limits and how to protect workers from exposures.
Air monitoring is necessary to know the level of radon exposure, and to make sure that the EPA Action Level and/or the OSHA Permissible Exposure Limit are not being exceeded for workers in commercial buildings in contracting trades. Conducting air monitoring at all worksites can warn those on the frontlines about areas that have elevated radon levels.
When workers are expected to perform in areas with elevated radon levels, including radon remediation work, controls should be provided to establish a safe work environment. Some of the applicable controls may include: