Radon Data Debuts with Call for Testing

January 9, 2020

Percentage of Households Responding Yes to Radon In Air Testing Question

The Maine Tracking Network released new radon data on January 9, 2020, making radon in air test results and household survey data publicly available for the first time in Maine. Radon, a widespread public health issue, is the number one cause of lung cancer in non-smokers and the second leading cause of lung cancer overall.

With this major addition to the Maine Tracking Network, users have access to summary measures for more than 57,000 radon in air tests, at the town, county, and state level. Beyond test result data, the Maine Tracking Network is also home to eight years of survey results from the Maine Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) that describe testing, levels above normal, and whether those levels were fixed.

New Data on Radon Levels in Maine

The town-level maps showing tens of thousands of radon in air test results allow users to see that while radon can be found everywhere in Maine, there are areas in the southwest part of the state, and within Hancock and Aroostook Counties, where greater than 50% of tested households have elevated levels of radon. Side-by-side maps also allow for users to have a full picture of radon levels in Maine based on both federal and Maine action levels of 4 pCi/L and 2 pCi/L respectively.

Testing for Radon is Low

Due to the underlying geology in Maine, and as seen in town-level maps, radon can be a problem anywhere. However, new household survey data from Maine BRFSS suggest only 1 in 3 Maine households have tested their homes for radon. This is concerning because of the significant health threat posed by exposure to radon.

The radon household survey data also help track trends to evaluate policy initiatives. In 2014, Maine implemented a law requiring all landlords to test their rental properties for radon and disclose the results to current and future tenants. With the newly available data on the Maine Tracking Network, users can explore the effect of this policy. For example, the percentage of households who rent and report their home had been tested for radon increased from 20% in 2013 to 37% in 2014.

How to Test for Radon and What do the Results Mean

Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends everyone test their home for radon. Do-it-yourself test kits from local laboratories and hardware stores cost $30-40 and are a simple way to find out if your home is exposing you to radon. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recommends taking action on levels at or above 4 pCi/L. Maine CDC recommends taking action for long-term tests at or above 2 pCi/L. For short-term radon tests between 2-4 pCi/L, Maine CDC recommends retesting with a long-term test in living quarters before mitigating. Radon reduction repairs can be done for about the same cost as other common home repairs. Maine CDC recommends contacting a certified mitigation specialist to ensure the radon reduction system is properly designed and installed.

High radon levels are a clear threat to your health. But the solutions – testing and mitigation – are clear too. Radon data on the Maine Tracking Network can help data portal users form a better understanding of what parts of the state may be at higher risk for radon in air, as well as areas where testing rates are low.

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