Answer to Question #11737 Submitted to "Ask the Experts"

Category: Environmental and Background Radiation — Radon

The following question was answered by an expert in the appropriate field:

Q

My sister and I just watched a video about radon on the web. The gentleman in the four-part series said he is an experienced, forensic industrial hygienist from Colorado. I was so relieved to hear that the household radon in my apartment is nothing to freak out about—the readings range from about 180 ­to 220 becquerels per cubic meter (Bq m-3), on a SafetySiren Pro Series 3 Radon Gas Detector. He stated residential radon is not a threat, and that he does not test at his home.

Looking at the vast public literature on the topic, however, is frightening. There are even people, like a health physicist from Nevada, who purport that radon is harmful. This is very confusing—who is correct?

The city of Greenville, South Carolina, where I live says we have a radon problem in this upstate county due to its mountainous foundation. They suggest I hang a radon measurement kit and then send it in to get the real story. There are many radon mitigation companies in this area, although I'm not so sure how radon can be addressed in a multiunit apartment when management and most other residents don't care about it.

Is there anything you can offer in terms of direction regarding this topic?

A

I certainly understand how you can be confused when there is so much conflicting information out there on the internet about radon. The Health Physics Society (HPS) has attempted to dispel some of the confusion by preparing Position Statement PS002-1, which can be found at http://hps.org/documents/radon_position_statement.pdf.

The position statement summarizes what we know and what we recommend regarding indoor radon exposure. In its brief four pages you should find what you are looking for. A slightly more extensive document (13 pages) on radon may be found at http://hps.org/documents/radon_position_statement_background_document.pdf in case the position statement is not sufficient to meet your needs.

While indoor radon is not a significant concern in most cases, at high levels in some few homes, it does make sense to mitigate the radon levels.

Howard Dickson, CHP

Answer posted on 9 September 2016. The information posted on this web page is intended as general reference information only. Specific facts and circumstances may affect the applicability of concepts, materials, and information described herein. The information provided is not a substitute for professional advice and should not be relied upon in the absence of such professional advice. To the best of our knowledge, answers are correct at the time they are posted. Be advised that over time, requirements could change, new data could be made available, and Internet links could change, affecting the correctness of the answers. Answers are the professional opinions of the expert responding to each question; they do not necessarily represent the position of the Health Physics Society.