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Radon

Florida Department of Health in St. Johns County Environmental Public Health Program


You can’t see it, smell it, or taste it. Radon, a Class A carcinogen, is the second cause of lung cancer. Radon is responsible for more than 21,000 lung cancer deaths a year (one every 25 minutes).  In Florida, one in five homes tested has elevated radon levels above the  action level of 4 pCi/L. Elevated radon levels have been found in all types of buildings, including manufactured homes, schools and high-rise condominiums.

Radon is 2nd LARGEST cause of LUNG CANCER

Radon comes from the radioactive breakdown of naturally occurring radium found in most soils. As a gas in the soil, it enters buildings through small openings in the foundation. Since the building can hold the radon similarly to smoke trapped under a glass, indoor radon concentrations can increase to many times that of outdoor levels. The only way to know the radon levels in your home is to test.

  • What is Radon?
  • Radon in Florida
  • Radon Testing Options
  • Radon Testing Saves Lives
  • Radon Disclosure

Radon is a colorless, odorless and tasteless gas that forms naturally in soil and rock throughout the world. 

Outdoor levels are usually low. Indoors, radon can be found at higher levels. Radon is found in commercial buildings, houses,schools, high rises, etc. In the U.S., radon is the leading cause of lung cancer among non-smokers.

Yearly Deaths:

  • Radon
    • 21,000
  • Secondhand Smoke:
    • 3,000

Protect Yourself:

  • All buildings and houses should be tested.
  • Constructing a new house or building?  Look into radon-resistant techniques.
  • Stop smoking.  If you are exposed to radon, smoking can increase lung cancer risk.

Measure Radon Levels:

  • DIY—Buy a radon gas test kit and follow the directions.
  • OR—Hire a certified radon measurement business.
  • Did you know?
    • Picocurie per liter, or pCi/L, measures radon levels.
    • No radon level is safe.
    • A level at or above 4pCi/L is considered high.
    • 1 in 5 Florida Homes has an elevated radon level.

Radon Level Elevated?

Your next step is to reduce radon levels to safer limits:

  • Contact a certified radon mitigator
  • Or call the Florida Radon and Indoor Air Program
    • 1-800-543-8279
  • Learn More at Radon.FloridaHealth.Gov

Florida Health Office of Communications

PDF: May 8, 2019

One in Five Florida homes has elevated Radon Levels. Test Today! Radon.FloridaHealth.gov

Radon is a colorless, odorless, tasteless, naturally occurring radioactive gas,and, is the leading cause of lung cancer among non-smokers. Radon is responsible for more than 21,000 lung cancer deaths a year (one every 25 minutes)in the U.S.In Florida, one in five homes tested has elevated radon levels, in some areas one out of three homes(compare to one out of fifteen homes nationally),above the action level of 4 pCi/L. Elevated radon levels have been found in all types of buildings.

Radon rises from underground and is pulled into the home through the foundation or is generated from earthen construction materials.

Radon & Real Estate: Radon in Florida

 

Radon-Resistant New Construction (RRNC)

RRNC is a way to build a safer, healthier, radon-resistant home for customers. RRNC is much more cost effective (less than $1,000) to install during construction than to go back and fix a radon problem identified later. No additional skills or materials are required. Refer to following websites:

Benefits

  • RRNC is a lot cheaper than lung cancer treatment
  • Builders can advertise RRNC features as an add-on

To learn more about RRNC visit “Build Without Radon

Florida Department of Health
Radon and Indoor Air Program
4052 Bald Cypress Way Bin A08

Tallahassee, Florida 32399-7017
800-543-8279
850-245-4288
Radon.FloridaHealth.gov
EPA.gov/Radon

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To Measure Radon Levels:

  • DIY—Buy a radon gas test kit and follow the directions.
  • OR—Hire a certified radon measurement business.
  • Did you know?
    • Picocurie per liter, or pCi/L, measures radon levels.
    • No radon level is safe.
    • A level at or above 4pCi/L is considered high.
    • 1 in 5 Florida Homes has an elevated radon level.

Who can test a building for radon?

Florida Certified radon measurement businesses can test for radon.  Homeowners may also test their house using over-the-counter (OTC) radon proficient devices available at local home improvement stores or through the internet. The OTC kits are simple to use and are relatively inexpensive (around $20 for short term tests and around $50 for long term tests). To purchase a do-it-yourself kit, check with your local home improvement hardware store or discount department store. Frequently they display radon test kits with the lead test kits, smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors. Reliable radon test kits are listed with the National Radon Proficiency Program or the National Radon Safety Board. Additionally, any test kit purchased and deployed needs to be returned to the laboratory for analysis. If you cannot find test kits available locally, search and purchase one online.

Another option is to hire a state certified radon testing company. Anyone offering professional radon services must have a Florida Department of Health Radon Certification. See a complete list of Radon Measurement Businesses by County. Need more options? Consider looking at businesses that have 'statewide' as their service area. Some companies have specialists and technicians in several areas or travel to different parts of the state as part of their normal business.

Where can I find a list of certified Radon Companies or Inspectors?

A complete list of Radon Measurement Businesses by County can be found at the Florida certified radon measurement business list. If you decide you want more options, consider looking at businesses that have 'statewide' as their service area. Some of those companies have specialists and technicians in several areas or travel to different parts of the state as part of their normal business.

Is it hard to test for radon? How long does it take to test for Radon?

Testing by a Florida Certified radon measurement businesses is easy.  Test kits have easy to follow directions. Testing is as simple as opening a package, placing a radon detector in your home in a designated area, and, after the prescribed number of days, sealing the detector back in the package and mailing it to a lab. The whole process only takes a few minutes of your time! If you conduct the test as specified you should obtain accurate results.

Radon Testing Saves Lives

Exposure to Radon Causes Lung Cancer In Non-smokers and Smokers Alike

The Facts:

  • Lung cancer kills thousands of Americans every year. Smoking, radon, and secondhand smoke are the leading causes of lung cancer. Although lung cancer can be treated, the survival rate is one of the lowest for those with cancer. From the time of diagnosis, between 11 and 15 percent of those afflicted will live beyond five years, depending upon demographic factors. In many cases lung cancer can be prevented.
  • Smoking is the leading cause of lung cancer. Smoking causes an estimated 160,000* cancer deaths in the U.S. every year (American Cancer Society, 2004). And the rate among women is rising. On January 11, 1964, Dr. Luther L. Terry, then U.S. Surgeon General, issued the first warning on the link between smoking and lung cancer. Lung cancer now surpasses breast cancer as the number one cause of death among women. A smoker who is also exposed to radon has a much higher risk of lung cancer.
  • Radon is the number one cause of lung cancer among non-smokers, according to EPA estimates. Overall, radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer. Radon is responsible for about 21,000 lung cancer deaths every year. About 2,900 of these deaths occur among people who have never smoked. On January 13, 2005, Dr. Richard H. Carmona, the U.S. Surgeon General, issued a national health advisory on radon.
  • Secondhand smoke is the third leading cause of lung cancer and responsible for an estimated 3,000 lung cancer deaths every year. Smoking affects non-smokers by exposing them to secondhand smoke. Exposure to secondhand smoke can have serious consequences for children’s health, including asthma attacks, affecting the respiratory tract (bronchitis, pneumonia), and may cause ear infections.
    • For smokers the risk of lung cancer is significant due to the synergistic effects of radon and smoking. For this population about 62 people in a 1,000 will die of lung-cancer, compared to 7.3 people in a 1,000 for never smokers. Put another way, a person who never smoked (never smoker) who is exposed to 1.3 pCi/L has a 2 in 1,000 chance of lung cancer; while a smoker has a 20 in 1,000 chance of dying from lung cancer.

Additional Resources:


Content Sources:

Radon.FloridaHealth.gov

EPA.gov/Radon/health-risk-radon

Radon Disclosure

Radon Risk in Florida Homes and Buildings: A reminder to real estate agents, renters, property buyers and sellers.

Real estate agents and brokers abide by a code of ethics that binds them to communicate known issues in a property to buyers.  Thus, it is required and critical to broaden the awareness about radon risks to the public during real estate transactions.

Code of Conduct

Real estate transactions provide a unique opportunity for radon testing, because other inspections of property conditions occur at that time (termite, structural integrity, moisture, other indoor air pollutants, etc.).  The Notification on Real Estate Documents [Section 404.056(5), Florida Statutes (F.S.)] shall be provided "at time of, or prior to, contract for sale and purchase of any building or execution of a rental agreement".

This Statute requires the following disclosure statement:

"RADON GAS: Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas that, when it has accumulated in a building in sufficient quantities, may present health risks to persons who are exposed to it over time. Levels of radon that exceed federal and state guidelines have been found in buildings in Florida. Additional information regarding radon and radon testing may be obtained from your county health department."

Many real estate agents network with home inspectors who may also be certified by the Radon and Indoor Air Program to perform professional radon measurements. However, not all home inspectors are radon certified.  Note that only Florida certified radon businesses and professionals shall provide radon related services for a fee or remuneration.  Note that the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Federal Housing Administration (FHA) and US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) recommend and now require testing for radon.

Some real estate agents may feel that radon testing may jeopardize the sale or rental of dwellings or other buildings. This may prove to be a liability. In the past, the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR) has fined these real estate agents for failing to provide radon test disclosures to clients, and have ordered them to attend a series of education classes.

Real Estate Agents, Home Inspectors and Clients

Many real estate agents carry insurance which includes a statement of errors and omissions, and other statements about pre-sale or pre-rental [S.624, F.S.].

Radon risk in Florida dwellings and buildings, and professionals providing radon services, is regulated by Florida Statute. The Notification on Real Estate Documents [Section 404.056(5), Florida Statutes (F.S.)] shall be provided "at time of, or prior to, contract for sale and purchase of any building or execution of a rental agreement".  However, "residential transient occupancy is excluded provided that such occupancy is 45 days or less" [S. 509.013(11), F.S.].

Additionally, you should know that only Florida certified radon businesses and professionals shall provide radon related services for a fee or other remuneration.

Listings of Florida certified radon businesses and professionals and other radon information is available from the department directly, by telephone at 850-245-4288, 800-543-8279.

EPA has developed a Home Buyer's and Seller's Guide to Radon which is available to anyone interested.

For more information contact:

Florida Department of Health
Radon and Indoor Air Program

4052 Bald Cypress Way Bin A08

Tallahassee, Florida 32399-7017
800-543-8279
850-245-4288
Radon.FloridaHealth.gov
EPA.gov/Radon

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