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Energy and Environment Cabinet

Picture Taken by Candy Montgomery

Division for Air Quality

Information about radon and what to look for in your own home.

What is radon?

Radon is a radioactive, colorless, odorless and tasteless gas. It is formed as natural deposits of uranium throughout the Earth’s crust decay. As radon decay products are inhaled, they can alter the cells in the lungs. These alterations can increase the potential for getting lung cancer. Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer behind smoking. An estimated 14,000 people die of radon-related lung cancer each year.  Breathing radon does NOT cause any short-term health effects such as shortness of breath, coughing, headaches or fever.

The amount of radon in a building is dependent upon several factors. These factors include the geology, a driving force, pathways into the building and the ventilation rate. As the concentration of uranium in the underlying soil increases, so does the strength of the radon. Radon is transported to buildings more easily through permeable soils. Buildings can create pressure differentials that will draw in the soil gases. Radon can enter the building through many paths such as cracks in the foundation, utility penetrations, sumps and floor drains. The ventilation rate of the building affects the final radon concentration.  Because most people spend as much as 90 percent of their time indoors, indoor exposure to radon is an important concern.

EPA has made the recommendation of no long-term radon exposures above 4 pico couries/liter (pCi/L). This action level was based on both health and economics. The only way to tell if a building has elevated levels of radon is to have it tested. Test kits are inexpensive and easy to use.

The Kentucky Radon Program

  • Kentucky Radon Program
    275 East Main Street
    Frankfort, KY  40621

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