What is Radon? 

Radon is a colorless, odorless, tasteless, and invisible gas that can enter your home through a variety of ways, such as construction joints, gaps around service pipes, cavities and cracks inside walls, gaps in suspended floors, sump pumps, private wells and groundwater supplies, and cracks in solid floors. 

Health Impacts of Radon

When you breathe in radon gas, radioactive particles can get trapped in your lungs. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that radon causes 21,000 lung cancer deaths each year. Radon is the leading environmental cause of any cancer and is the second leading cause of lung cancer, after smoking. 

Radon Testing

Since you cannot see, taste, or smell radon, the only way to know if the gas is in your home is to test for it. You should test for radon when:

  • It's never been tested or radon levels are unknown
  • When preparing to buy or sell
  • Before and after any renovations, especially after making any repairs to reduce radon levels
  • Before making any lifestyle changes in the home that would cause someone to spend more time in the basement or lower level (such as converting a basement into a bedroom)

Linn County Public Health has short-term and long-term radon test kits available for purchase. To purchase a radon test kit, call 319-892-6000 or stop by the office at 1020 6th St. SE Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401.

Interpreting Radon Test Results

The chart below explains the different metrics and action steps that should be followed after testing your home for radon.

Radon LevelInformation
Less than 0.5 PCI/LRadon levels measured in your home are practically the same as those found in outdoor air. However, if you make any structural changes or start using a lower level of the building more frequently, you should test again.
From 0.5 - 1.9 PCI/LThere is little short-term risk. Because radon levels fluctuate daily and seasonally, you may want to retest your home during another season. If you make any structural changes or start using a lower level of the building more frequently, you should test again.
From 2.0 - 3.9 PCI/LSince each test is a snapshot of conditions during the 3-7 days for testing (short-term), we recommend testing again. If the follow-up/second test results are still in this range, there is little short-term risk, but the decision of whether to pursue radon mitigation should be considered. This is a personal decision and should balance costs and risks. If you change the way you use your home, test again.
From 4.0 - 7.9 PCI/LYou should conduct either a short-term or long-term follow-up measurement. If this is a follow-up/confirming test, it is recommended that you take remedial action to reduce radon levels.
From 8.0 - 40+ PCI/LYou should conduct a short-term follow-up measurement within the next few weeks, under closed house conditions. A long-term measurement is NOT recommended because exposure at these levels could pose an increased health risk. If it's a follow-up/confirming test, it's recommended to take remedial action to reduce radon levels. A list of Iowa Certified Radon Mitigators can be found through the Iowa Department of Health and Human Services.

Sump Pumps and Radon

In recent years, a public health trend has been the concern of sump pumps contributing to high radon levels in your home. Radon can enter your home through the footing drain that is connected to the sump pump in your basement. If you do not have a basement sump pit, this doesn't affect you directly.

One key in preventing radon from entering your home from a sump pump is to have a sealed sump lid. There are several different kinds of sealed sump lids. Sealed sump lids are inexpensive and available from building supply companies. 

Radon Resources