About Radon Gas

Radon in nature

Radon gas is produced during the radioactive decay of uranium and thorium, common throughout the Earth. They disintegrate into lighter radioactive elements like radium, polonium and lead. All are heavy metals except for one — radon.

Radon gas slowly oozes from the ground. Radon concentration is measured by the radioactivity it produces. (1 Curie is the radioactivity of 1 gram of radium.) The average radon level in ambient air is 0.4 pCi/L (picoCuries per liter).

Radon in homes

Radon is the heaviest of all gases, eight times heavier than air. It accumulates in basements or on lower floors and then, diffuses throughout the building.

The average radon level in US homes is 1.25 pCi/L. About 1 out of every 15 homes exceeds the EPA's "action limit" of 4 pCi/L and nearly 1 out of 6 exceeds the EPA's "consider action limit" of 2 pCi/L.

Radon is a potent carcinogen

Radon gas decays into minute radioactive particles which float in the air we breathe. These particles get trapped in the lungs where they undergo radioactive decay with a half life of 22 years. The radiation damages the DNA of adjacent cells and causes lung cancer.

  • “Radon is the most potent environmental carcinogen to which the general public is exposed.” [2000 Report on Carcinogens]
  • “Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer.” [The Surgeon General]
  • “Radon causes more deaths than home fires, drownings, and airplane crashes combined.” [US EPA]
  • “Radon causes about 21,100 deaths in the U.S. each year.” [US EPA & The National Academy of Sciences, 2003 estimate]

Radon is the leading cause of lung cancer among non-smokers

Peter Jennings’ death and Dana Reeve’s announcement have raised public awareness about lung cancer, especially among people who have never smoked. Smoking, radon, and secondhand smoke are the three leading causes of lung cancer.  Although lung cancer can be treated, the survival rate is one of the lowest among cancers.  From the time of diagnosis, only 11 to 15 percent of those afflicted will live beyond five years.  In many cases lung cancer can be prevented; this is especially true for radon.

Smoking is the No. 1 cause of lung cancer. It is responsible for an estimated 160,000 deaths in the U.S. every year. Lung cancer has surpassed breast cancer as the number one cause of death among women.

Radon is the leading cause of lung cancer among non-smokers. Of the 21,000 deaths it causes every year, 2,900 occur among people who have never smoked.

For comparison, the third leading cause of lung cancer is secondhand smoke. It causes an estimated 3,000 lung cancer deaths in the U.S. every year. About 2,000 are former smokers and 1,000 have never smoked.

Radon mitigation methods

Sub-slab depressurization systems draw concentrated radon gas from beneath the slab and exhaust it above the roof. Their cost varies from $800 to $2,500. They also pull heated or air-conditioned air and EPA estimates that the average operating costs and energy losses are $150/year. Each radon stack emits about 1 Curie per year of the heavy radioactive gas.

The most logical solution would be sealing the concrete and leaving radon in the ground, but paints or surface sealers have proven ineffective against radon. However, there is now an alternative technology — RadonSeal penetrating concrete sealer which seals the pores deep inside concrete. Naturally, you also have to seal or caulk all openings, gaps, or cracks.

Radon mitigation with RadonSeal

RadonSeal penetrates deep inside concrete (up to 4"), reacts with lime and alkali, expands into pores, and hardens. The concrete becomes permanently sealed against radon gas, as well as water molecules. This radon mitigation method does not depend on mechanical equipment or the grid and there are no operating costs. The homeowner avoids the radon fan with unsightly piping and saves $100’s of dollars on installation. Check out the Comparison of Radon Mitigation Methods

If your home already has a fan-based radon mitigation system, it still makes sense to seal the concrete with RadonSeal. You will further reduce your radon level, lower the energy losses in treated air, and have a back-up for equipment or grid failures. In addition, RadonSeal also provides waterproofing, damp proofing, and preservation of the concrete.


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