Radon in Missoula
(Bob Ruby, Home Inspection Solutions Missoula Montana, 406-646-6182)
Radon is a naturally occurring colorless, odorless, radioactive gas produced by the breakdown of uranium in soil and rock.
When this gas is drawn into a home or building, it can build up to dangerous levels and be inhaled into the lungs. Radon and it's decay products can release radiation into lungs and damage the tissue. In fact, radon exposure is the number one cause of lung cancer among non-smokers and is responsible for about 21,000 lung cancer deaths each year in the USA.
Because of Montana's geology, many homes in the state and Missoula County have high levels of radon gas.
Missoula levels are high. For example, nationwide 7% of buildings contain elevated levels of radon. In Missoula, 54% of homes have high levels (see pie chart). This is over 7x the national average.
When the Health Department looked at test results throughout the County, no pattern was observed. Homes in the valley, in the foothills, and it all reaches of the county had high levels*.
All zipcodes in our county AND surrounding areas have averages are above the EPA Action Level of 4pCi/L.
Interestingly, one house may test high but a neighbor's home may be low. This is due to differences in the ground structure and to a lesser degree, the home construction. All the more reason to test every home.
In a location like Missoula, building homes to be radon resistant from the start makes good sense.
Should You test my home for radon?
The only way to know your radon level is to test. Tests can be either short term (2-90 days) or long term (> 90days). Short term tests are inexpensive and available at the Health Department and local hardware stores. Test kits are also available at the radon hotline 1-800-SOS-RADON (767-7236).
Are levels of radon below 4pCi/L considered safe?
The EPA has established that a level of 4pCi/L is the action level or the level above which homes should be fixed. Does this mean that it is safe if you are at 3.9pCi/L? The answer is no. There is no safe level of radiation. A radon level of 4.0pCi/L is equal to 200 chest x-rays per year or 16 cigarettes per day. The U.S. Congress has set a long-term goal that indoor radon levels be no more than outdoor levels, about 0.4 pCi/L.
* Based on 2012 study of zip code data from MCCHD test kit sales
Test kits can be purchased at the Environmental Health Department located on the 2nd floor of the City-County Health Department building, 301 W Alder, Missoula Mt 59801. ( for $7.00 )
hardware stores, or online at http://.www.radonkit.org
Download Radon Info to Print
This Information is from Missoula Radon Coalition
LEARN MORE ABOUT RADON HERE
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