Radon is an odorless, radioactive gas produced from the natural decay of uranium in rocks and soil. It's the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States and can be found in all 50 states.
Radon is measured in picocuries/Liter (pCi/L) and the EPA recommends taking action if radon concentrations are above 4 pCi/L. The average indoor radon level in Montana is 5.9 pCi/L. In Cascade County, 60% of samples collected are higher than 4 pCi/L. Radon-resistant construction is recommended if you are building a new home in a high radon area.
To find out if you are in a high radon area, you can view the EPA radon zones on the interactive map at the EPA radon website. If you have a preexisting home in a high radon area, you may want to have your radon levels tested. Radon mitigation systems can be installed in houses with high radon potential. A common mitigation option is a vent pipe system and fan that pulls the radon from beneath the house and vents it outside, which prevents it from ever entering the home.
Radon test kits can be purchased at the City-County Health Department for $25. These are long-term tests and can be used for testing periods from three months to one year. Because radon levels can fluctuate daily and seasonally, longer test periods provide a more reliable prediction of future radon exposure. The Health Department recommends at least 3 months in most situations.
For more information on radon and radon testing contact CCHD Environmental Health Services at 406-454-6950.