Odorless and colorless radon gas can be a serious health threat lurking in any Maine home regardless of its age or location. Radon can enter a home through the ground or can dissolve into well water and be released into the air inside a home when water is used. Exposure to radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in Maine, and the number one cause for people who do not smoke. Fortunately, testing and treatment can easily detect and mitigate dangerous radon levels. During Radon Awareness Week families can take these steps to determine the radon level in their home.
Both the air and well water in a home should be tested for radon. Homeowners can purchase a simple test kit through a registered Maine testing lab, or they can hire a registered radon tester. Find out where to buy a test kit and see a list of registered testers at Maineradiationcontrol.org, or call 1-800-232-0842. Remember, testing isn't just a good idea for older homes. It's the only way to determine if a home of any age and in any location has unsafe radon levels. In 2016, only 1 in 3 households tested their home for radon in air. This number varies across the state. Explore radon data for your county.
If a radon test indicates unsafe levels of radon in a home the issue should be fixed by a registered contractor trained to address radon in air or in well water. Treatment systems can be installed in a home to lower radon levels, and air and water test results should be considered together to determine the best and most cost-effective solution. Even though 1 in 10 homes in Maine report having radon in air levels above normal, only 3 in 4 households report reducing or fixing their elevated levels of radon in air. And, far fewer rental properties (41%) have taken action to lower harmful radon levels compared to owned properties (78%).
To ensure that a radon mitigation system is working properly to reduce and maintain levels of radon, the air and well water should be re-tested every two years. Homes should also be re-tested after any major structural changes such as getting a roof replaced, new windows, building an addition or attached garage, or a new heating system. The Maine Center for Disease Control & Prevention’s Maine Tracking Network provides data on radon in air test results at the town, county, and state level. Maine also uses survey data to track the percentage of homes in the state that report testing their air for radon, if a result was elevated, and if the levels were reduced through treatment.