N.C. Radon Program
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N.C. Radon Program. N.C. Radiation Protection Section Division of Environmental Health DENR. www.ncradon.org. Take in a Deep Breath!. Blow It Out!!!. Dust...Mold Spores...Viruses...Radon...Carbon Dioxide...Oxygen...Germs. Things you just Inhaled!. CAUTION.

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N.C. Radon Program

N.C. Radiation Protection Section

Division of Environmental Health



Take in a Deep Breath!

Blow It Out!!!

Dust...Mold Spores...Viruses...Radon...Carbon Dioxide...Oxygen...Germs...

Things you

just Inhaled!


What is it?... Where does it come from?...How does it affect me?...How do I prevent it?...


Sources of Radiation in

the USA

Typical Annual Radiation Exposure ...

360 mrem/yr

Annual Exposure from Common Activities



5000 mrem

200 mrem


Nuclear Power

<0.05 mrem

53 mrem

Courtesy of David C Howell, Radiation Safety Officer-Wake Forest University-Baptist Medical Center

Radon is a naturally occurring gas emitted from the earth.

Radon is a colorless, odorless, tasteless,inert,radioactive gas.

It is a naturally occurring gas that enters buildings, homes and the environment from the surrounding soil.



It comes from the decay of Uranium which decays into Radium and then into Radon gas.


Radon is produced in most soil or rock.

Therefore, ALL homes have some level of radon...

Radon is also found in the outdoor air.

Uranium Decay Chain

UraniumHalf-life: 5 billion yrs

RadiumHalf-life: 30 seconds


Half-life: 3.8 days

Bismuth-214, polonium-218 & 214, and lead-214

Half-life: very short (less than 30 minutes)

These decay products account for major portion of radiation dose received in the lungs.

Bismuth-214, Polonium-218 & 214, and Lead-214

Half-life: very short (less than 30 minutes)

  • Alpha Radiation ()

    • Particle released when the nucleus kicks out 2neutrons and 2 protons

    • Relatively massive

    • Relatively slow

    • Total charge of +2


Mass number changes by 4 and atomic number changes by 2


  • Beta Radiation ()

    • Particle released when the nucleus changes a neutron into a proton and a beta particle

    • Relatively small mass

    • Relatively fast moving

    • Total charge of -1



Atomic Mass Number remains constant


  • Gamma Radiation ()

    • Pure energy. Released from the nucleus when an alpha or a beta is emitted

    • No mass

    • Speed of light

    • No charge


Courtesy of David C Howell, Radiation Safety Officer-Wake Forest University-Baptist Medical Center

What is the big deal

with these alpha


Plastic chip from passive radon test (alpha track)

Magnified only 100 times

3 months at EPA Action Level of 4 pCi/L

Alpha Particles Are Strong

Enough To

Pit Plastic!

What Happens When Radon Decay

Products Are Inhaled?

  • Highly radioactive particles (RDP’s) stick to lung tissue, where they can irradiate sensitive cells.

  • Radiation can alter the cells, sometimes damaging the DNA of the lung cells, thus increasing the potential for cancer.

Image from: www.hipusa.com/eTools/webmd/A-Z_Encyclopedia/lungcancerbasics.htm

Danger of Radon

Radon Exposure is

the Second Leading

Cause of

Lung Cancer!

Image from: //health.allrefer.com/health/cancer-lung-cancer-frontal-chest-x-ray.html

Lung Cancer Risks Due to Radon

  • Depends largely on:

    • Quantity of Radon

    • Amount of time spent in home

    • Smoker vs Non-Smoker

Risks for Smokers...

Source: “A Citizen’s Guide to Radon (Fourth Edition)” EPA, 5/2002

Risks for Non-Smokers...

Source: “A Citizen’s Guide to Radon (Fourth Edition)” EPA, 5/2002

Radon Action Levels...

Radon is a National Problem...

Radon is a North Carolina Problem...

Radon Prevalence in NC




Zone 1: Highest Potential

(> 4 pCi/L)

Zone 2: Moderate Potential

(2-4 pCi/L)

Zone 3: Low Potential

(< 2 pCi/L)

Now that we know sources of Radon...

How Does it get into my Home?

Radon entry depends on...

Air movement through soil

Also through some building materials (ie. Concrete) that have the potential to contain and emit Radon.

Through well water

Cracks in foundations

Fight Radon


Lung Cancer!

Encourage Radon Testing!

Everyone Should

Test for Radon!

0.3 pCi/L

4.8 pCi/L

6.8 pCi/L

10.0 pCi/L

1.2 pCi/L

0.5 pCi/L

2.1 pCi/L

1.4 pCi/L

Where can I get a Radon Detection Kit?

  • Hardware Stores

  • Internet

How much do Radon Detection Kits


Average Costs:

Short-Term Kits: $10-$20

Long-Term Kits: $15-$25

Short-Term Testing Devices

Continuous Monitoring Devices

My Results are above 4 pCi/L...

What do I do now?

Repeat the test in the same location.(If possible repeat with a Long-Term Test)

If the second test is above 4 pCi/L…

Call a certified Radon Mitigator

What is Radon Mitigation?

Method of removing Radon from the home via ventilation through a PVC pipe and out above the roof.

What Does

A Mitigation

System Do?

Close-up of fan apparatus

What it Looks Like

Underneath It All...

Average Costs of Mitigation

Home Under Construction:

Less than $500

Average Costs of Mitigation

Existing Home:

$500 - $2000

What is a Certified Radon

Mitigator/ Measurement Professional?

Measurement and mitigation contractors certified by NEHA or NRSB have been trained and carry ID cards.

Benefits of Having a Home Mitigated?

  • Decrease the amount of Radon in the home/building

  • Improved Air Quality

    • Decreased moisture

    • Decreased mold and other moisture irritants

Thank you for your attention

Any Questions?

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