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The Dangers of Radon and How to Protect Yourself

Radon is a colorless, odorless, and tasteless gas that is naturally present in the environment. Although it is not harmful in small amounts, radon can be dangerous when it builds up indoors. In fact, radon is the leading cause of lung cancer among nonsmokers in the United States. 

Minnesota, and Wisconsin have some of the highest radon concentrations in the country. This is because these states have large areas of bedrock that can release radon into the air. So if you live in one of these states, Radon might be present in your home at dangerous levels.You can see radon concentrations on the map below. 

If you’re a homeowner, it’s important to take steps to protect yourself and your family from the dangers of radon exposure. Here are some tips on how to stay safe from this invisible threat.

Radon levels can accumulate to high concentrations in your home depending on radon levels in the soil (the source), how radon enters the home (pathways), and pressure differences between the outside air and the inside air (air pressure) that drive radon into the home.

  • Source – In Minnesota and Wisconsin, soil is the main source of radon, where it occurs naturally.
  • Pathways – Radon gas enters the home, usually through openings between the soil and the home. These pathways may include cracks in the concrete slab, floor-wall joints, an open sump pit, or a crawl space. 
  • Air pressure – Differences in air pressure between the home’s interior and the soil can pull radon gas into the home through the pathways.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends you take action to reduce radon in your home if your radon level is 4 picocuries per liter (pCi/L) or higher. Levels less than 4 pCi/L still pose a risk, and radon levels can be reduced below 2 pCi/L in most homes.


One way to prevent radon from entering your home is to seal any cracks or gaps in your foundation. You can do this yourself with a little bit of caulk or expanding foam, or you can hire a professional to do it for you. Either way, it’s important to make sure that your home is well-sealed so that radon gas can’t seep in.


If you live in an area with high levels of radon, you may want to consider installing a radon mitigation system. These systems work by drawing air out of your home and venting it outdoors, which reduces the amount of radon present indoors. Radon mitigation systems can be installed by a professional. Make sure to get several estimates from different companies, ask for references, be sure the contractor is licensed, and has insurance. 

Standard Water installs a sub-slab ventilation system that draws air from below the basement floor through a vent pipe with a fan. It is best to run the vent pipe inside the walls of a home, but the pipes can be run outside. You need to be aware of the potential for freezing if the vent pipe is run on the home’s exterior. The exhaust pipe should be installed above the roof line to ensure down drafts do not force Radon back into the house. Also, sub slab ventilation greatly reduces humidity and dampness in the basement, making it a much more enjoyable living space.

Radon is about 7.5 times heavier than air.  It’s easily influenced by air movements and pressure.  In a house with forced air heating and cooling, radon can easily be distributed throughout the entire structure. When radon gas is discharged via a radon mitigation system above the roof, the radon concentration falls off dramatically with distance from the point of discharge.  In fact, the radon gas concentration approaches  background levels at 3-4 feet from the discharge point.  The Environmental Protection Agency disallowed ground level discharge of radon primarily because of the potential for re-entrainment of the gas into the house and because of the possibility of children being exposed to high radon levels.  The concentration of radon gas at the discharge point can be tens of thousands of picocuries per minute.

Most radon mitigation system installations require electrical work to power the radon fan which requires an electrical permit. If a contractor is doing the work, the person must be licensed.

Radon reduction systems cause some loss of heated or air conditioned air, which could increase your utility bills. How much your utility bills increase will depend on the climate you live in, what kind of reduction system you select, and how your home is built. Systems that use fans are more effective in reducing radon levels; however, they will slightly increase your electric bill. 

Similar to a furnace or chimney, radon reduction systems need occasional maintenance. If you have a fan powered (or active) system, you should look at your warning device, usually a manometer, on a regular basis to make sure the system is working correctly. Fans may last for five years or more — manufacturer warranties tend not to exceed five years — and may then need to be repaired or replaced. The cost to replace a fan varies as it is based on labor and materials. Ask qualified mitigators for estimates before work begins.

If you happen to have one of our basement waterproofing systems installed, we tie the radon mitigation system into the waterproofing system. This is possible because our waterproofing systems are under your basement floor and are air tight. 


The only way to know for sure if radon is present in your home is to test for it. There are many do-it-yourself test kits available at hardware stores, or you can hire a professional to test your home for you. Testing is relatively inexpensive and only takes a few days, so there’s no excuse not to do it regularly. Standard Water would be happy to provide you with a radon test kit free of charge. Simply contact us and we’ll send one out right away. Once the test is complete we’ll help you interpret the results and can offer a solution, if necessary.


Radon is a colorless, odorless gas that can be found naturally in the environment. Although it’s not harmful in small amounts, exposure to high levels of radon can lead to lung cancer. If you’re a homeowner, it’s important to take steps to protect yourself from this invisible threat. Sealing your home’s foundation and installing a radon mitigation system are both effective ways to reduce the amount of radon present indoors. Additionally, testing your home for radon regularly is the only way to be sure that levels are safe. By taking these precautions, you can help keep yourself and your family safe from the dangers of radon exposure.

Standard Water offers a free radon test kit and free, no obligation estimates. Contact us today!

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