What are the Health Risks of Radon?

Radon is the leading cause of lung cancer among non-smokers - killing over 20,000 Americans each year.

To reduce the risk of lung cancer, the US EPA recommends taking corrective action in every home with radon concentrations above the action level of 4 pCi/L (148 Bq/m3).  Even if you don't smoke, but you live in a 4 pCi/L (148 Bq/m3) home, you have a long-range health risk equal to smoking half a pack of cigarettes a day. If you do smoke and live in a 4 pCi/L (148 Bq/m3) home, the risk is 14 times greater.

One out of every 15 homes in the United States has radon concentrations above 4 pCi/L (148 Bq/m3). Most homes can have their radon concentrations reduced to below 2 pCi/L (74 Bq/m3). Some states mandate that new homes can be designed to prevent high radon concentrations.

In the United States, the outdoor radon level (0.4 pCi/L (15 Bq/m3)) is low. But, at the higher levels frequently found in homes, your risk is greater. Reducing radon levels inside buildings can greatly lower this risk. The US EPA recommends reducing radon levels in buildings to below 4 pCi/L (148 Bq/m3) to lower your risk of radon-induced lung cancer.

If you get radon-induced lung cancer, your chance of surviving is very low compared to other forms of cancer:

  • Your chance of surviving breast cancer is 88%

  • Your chance of surviving prostate cancer is 99%

  • Your chance of surviving lung cancer is 15%

Your chance of dying from lung cancer depends on the radon level you are exposed to over your lifetime.  

Radon Level
[pCi/L]
(Bq/m3)
Risk of Dying From Lung Cancer What to Do to  Protect Yourself
Non-Smokers Smokers

20 pCi/L
(740 Bq/m3)

36 per 1000

260 per 1000

Have a radon mitigation system installed in your home.
Most homes can be mitigated for $800-$1500.
10 pCi/L
(370 Bq/m3)

18 per 100

150 per 1000

8 pCi/L
(296 Bq/m3)

15 per 1000

120 per 1000

4 pCi/L
(148 Bq/m3)

7 per 1000

62 per 1000

2 pCi/L
(74 Bq/m3)

4 per 1000

32 per 1000

Consider mitigating homes with levels between 2-4 pCi/L (74-148 Bq/m3).

1.3 pCi/L
(48.1 Bq/m3)

U.S. indoor average

2 per 1000

20 per 1000

Reducing radon levels below these levels can be difficult

0.4 pCi/L
(14.8 Bq/m3)

U.S. outdoor average

< 1 per 1000

6 per 1000

 

 

 

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