07. How can radon from water enter my home?
Homes that are supplied with private well water for drinking, cooking, bathing or operating the dish-washing machine enable radon to diffuse into the air when the water is run. The best way to protect yourself from any radon in well water is by aeration.
08. If radon is a health hazard, what are the symptoms of exposure?
Just as you can not see it, smell it or taste it, radon provides no warning that it is harming your health. There are no rashes, head aches or fevers. Radon causes lung cancer, which often present no symptoms until it is advanced. The only way to be safe from radon-related lung cancer is to test for radon and have the radon mitigated if the level is above 4.0 pCi/L.
09. Will my neighbor's radon measurement reflect my radon levels?
No. Radon levels vary from house to house. The only way to know if you have a radon problem is to conduct a test. "...Your home can have elevated levels of radon while your neighbor's home does not. Testing is the only way to determine if you have a problem. Radon testing is easy and inexpensive and it could save your life. Thousands of lung cancer deaths could be avoided each year if homes with elevated radon underwent changes to reduce radon pollution." 
10. Are sellers required to disclose known [elevated] radon concentration?
Yes. The Illinois Radon Awareness Act and the Illinois Real Property Disclosure Act require that a seller of a home disclose information if aware of unsafe concentrations of radon in the home. The acts do not require that testing or remediation work be conducted.
11. What Illinois law require radon testing in day care centers?
August 17, 2012, Governor Pat Quinn enacted new legislature, calling for non-residential day care centers to have mandatory radon measurements performed on their facility by a licensed radon professional.
How do these new laws affect day care providers:
Effective January 1, 2013, licensed day care centers, licensed day care homes, and licensed group day care homes shall have the facility tested for radon at least once every 3 years.
The Child Care Act of 1969 (225 ILCS10) Section 5.8 states that the facility must post their current radon measurement next to the Department issued license, and that copies must be provided to parents or guardians upon request.
Effective January 1, 2014, as part of the initial or renewal application of a license for a day care centers, day care homes, and group day care homes, the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) shall require proof the facility has been tested within the last 3 years for radon according to rules by the Illinois Emergency Management Agency, Department of Nuclear Safety (IEMA).
* The report of the most current radon measurement shall be posted in the facility next to the license issued by the Department. Copies of the report shall be provided to parents or guardians upon request.
12. What if my day care center measurement result is greater than 4.0 picocuries per liter (pCi/L)?
The results must be posted according to the Child Care Act of 1969 [above]..."and current radon measurement next to the Department issued license, making copies of the radon report available to parents or guardians upon request."
However, day care centers are not required to mitigate the building if they are found to have high levels of radon! ASK your day care provider if their building is radon safe!
13. Does the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) provide guidelines for school air and environmental guidelines?
Yes, both the EPA and the Illinois Emergency Management Agency, Department of Nuclear Safety (IEMA) provide Illinois Schools Environmental Guidelines to follow.
An example of a School Environmental Health Program provided by the EPA which identifies five broad components that address school environmental health issues is outlined below:
A. Practice Effective Cleaning and Maintenance
B. Prevent Mold and Moisture
C. Reduce Chemical and Environmental Contaminant Hazards
D. Ensure Good Ventilation
E. Prevent Pests and Reduce Pesticide Exposure Voluntary Guidelines for States Development and Implementation of a School Environmental Health Program To learn more about this issue, see the EPAs Office of Children’s Health Protection
14. Will vacant or unoccupied buildings that have been closed for many days prior to the measurement return higher results than occupied buildings?
No, most homes have an average air exchange rate of two hours (plus or minus one hour); depending on the operation of the furnace and air movement within the building. The twelve hour pre-measurement preparation allows for approximately four air-exchange cycles and allows for an accurate measurement of the radon concentration.
15. My builder says the home is radon resistant, that means I won't have elevated radon?
Even homes that have integrated Radon Resistant New Construction (RRNC), the only way to know for certain that the RRNC is actually being effective is by performing a test.
When explained further, Radon Resistant New Construction (RRNC), is simply the installation of the radon system pipes without the fan. Making the home "radon system ready," but certainly not resistant to its entry.
*If buying from a builder, ask about the reimbursement options available on new RRNC homes that require the home have a fan installed on the home's radon system to make it meet standards. Many builders offer free or discounted mitigation fan installation new RRNC homes (if necessary).
16. I don't live in an area with high radon, so am I safe here?
You won't know until you test for it. Even the highest quality homes in areas that are determined to be low risk for radon can have high radon levels. About 15% of homes in the U.S. have radon problems.
17. What is a high radon level?
There is no safe level of radon exposure. Radon gas is measured in picocuries per liter (pCi/L). The current airborne radon level at which the EPA and IEMA recommend action is 4.0 pCi/L
18. Scientific Explanation of Radon:
Radon originates from Uranium-238, which produces Radium over many intermediate steps of its half-life process of deterioration. While in the Radium stage, Radon gas is released into the surrounding air and water. As radon gas is produced it begins its 3.8 day deterioration process called “half-life.” Half-Life is the time required for atoms of a radioactive element to decay by one half of its original quantity. However, as radon decays, its radon decay products (RDPs) are released into the air and these RDPs are also radioactive and detrimental to our health for they have a much shorter half-life.
Both polonium-214 and polonium-218 release alpha radiation, which presents the greatest risk associated with radon and radon decay products; while the bismuth-214 and lead-214 deliver combined doses of both beta and gamma radiation during the decay process. Beta radiation can penetrate your skin, but not your tissue. However, gamma radiation is strong enough to pass though the body entirely. Neither RDP [beta or gamma] is as damaging as the alpha radiation, emitted by the polonium-214 and polonium-218.
Studies have been conducted by numerous private agencies, Universities and Government sectors to determine the dangers of radon and its RDPs. A study conducted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency concluded that “Radon is the number one cause of lung cancer among non-smokers…Overall, radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer, and that radon is responsible for about 21,000 lung cancer deaths every year.”
04. When should I schedule a radon measurement?
A. When buying a house:
If you are home buyer, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. E.P.A.) recommends including the radon test for every real estate transaction. The Illinois Emergency Management Agency, Department of Nuclear Safety (IEMA) recommends radon measurements be performed every two years (or sooner if construction is performed on the building). View the full publication here.
B. Pre- and Post- mitigation:
Has your home been identified as having high levels of radon from a previous test or through another company?
Northern Illinois Radon offers both pre-mitigation measurement service as well as post-mitigation measurement to ensure the radon system is working correctly and determine system efficacy.
Post-mitigation measurements shall not be conducted if temporary radon reduction measures are in use.
Post-mitigation measurements shall be conducted to determine a system’s effectiveness after a permanent radon reduction system has been fully operational for at least 24 hours but not later than 30 days following the completion and activation of a mitigation system.
Post-mitigation measurements are performed to ensure the newly installed radon system is working correctly and determine system efficacy.
Operation of mitigation systems during radon measurement
The mitigation system shall be operated normally and continuously during the entire measurement period.
Follow-up measurements are performed to confirm and characterize elevated radon concentrations that were previously identified in a building. Follow-up measurements are not required in real estate transaction.
An educated consumer is the best consumer. Schedule a radon measurement to get the air quality assessment that is vital to your health!
05. I have a new home with no cracks or other openings, so why should I test for radon?
As a gas, radon can enter through small cracks that you may not even see. Radon enters through finished and unfinished basements, crawlspaces, slab foundations, construction joints, non-aerated water supply, and through the sump pits, floor drains and vents of both new and existing homes and buildings.
06. Are granite counter tops a source of radon?
The Truth About Granite: Eliminating the misconceptions about radon and radiation risks associated with granite in homes.
Radon, is the leading cause of lung cancer for non-smokers (IEMA, EPA)
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS:
01. What is Radon?
Radon is a colorless, odorless, tasteless, radioactive gas produced during the natural decay of uranium (an element that occurs in the rock and soil). This carcinogenic gas is naturally occurring and is present in low levels in the air we breathe outdoors (typically around 0.4 pCi/L). The EPA projects that indoor radon levels may be between 1.3 pCi/L and 4.0 pCi/L depending on your home. At high levels radon becomes a serious health risk.
02. How does radon enter my home? How am I exposed to radon?
As radon gas is released from the decay of uranium, the gas travels through the soil and enters your home through construction joints and foundation spaces of the building. This includes, but is not limited to, crawl spaces, foundation cracks, gaps around pipes and/or wires, ejector and sump pits, floor drains.
The type of foundation makes no difference. Radon has been measured in buildings with varying foundation styles. Radon enters through the lower levels of the building and accumulates, having potential to reach harmful levels.
Radon's primary entry point is through the soil. The radon concentrations in the soil are dependent upon the soil composition and rock layering. Radon regularly varies from one lot to the next as building construction has different impact on the ground below. Further, radon levels are affected by weather, soil moisture and porosity, building construction, foundation types, and building pressure. Radon levels vary by region, but radon is present in all states and areas.
03. Common entry points that allow radon to enter your home:
Cracks in the floor of walls of the foundation
Concrete joints: control joints, isolation joints, construction joints, and any other joint in concrete slab or between foundation walls
Gaps in suspended floors
Hollow block masonry
Openings around sump pump and drains
Openings in the foundation (vents and windows)
Unsealed openings and gaps around plumbing pipes, floor openings, electrical wires, and other openings