Radon and you


What is radon?

Radon is a naturally-occurring, colorless, odorless, inert radioactive gas. Prolonged exposure to high levels of radon can increase the risk for lung cancer.

Radon occurs naturally as elements in the soil break down. The gas can enter the home through cracks in the foundation and build up over time. U.S. EPA recommends homes have a concentration of radon less than 4.0 picoCuries per liter. Some tested homes on Guam had more than 300 picoCuries per liter. Surveys conducted by Guam EPA indicate about 27% of homes in Guam have higher levels of radon than the level recommended by U.S. EPA.


How can radon affect you and your family?

The higher the concentration of radon, and longer an individual is exposed to it, the higher the probability radon may cause lung cancer. Radon is the leading cause of lung cancer deaths among nonsmokers in the United States.


How does radon get into the house?

Buildings are typically at a lower pressure than the surrounding air and soil. This causes radon and other soil gases to be drawn into the building. One reason is the effect that exhaust fans have when removing air from a building. When air is exhausted, outside air enters the building to replace it. Most of this replacement air comes from the underlying soil.

A second reason is that wind and rain can cause pressures in the soil that force soil gases to enter the building. Some of the outside air, which is displacing and replacing the interior air, moves through the soil and carries radon in with it.


How do I know if my home has radon?

Guam EPA offers free testing for radon. Applications for a radon test packet can be filled out from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Guam EPA’s main office in Tiyan across from the former JFK High School campus. You can also download an application here. When you have completely filled out the application, bring it to Guam EPA’s main office and your request will be processed by our staff.

Staff will then contact you about picking up your canister for testing.

Once you get your test canister, follow these steps:

  • Make sure the house is completely closed (windows need to be closed) for 12 hours prior to the beginning of the test. The house MUST be closed during the full 48 hours of the test.
  • Put the testing kit at least three feet above the floor, three feet from outside walls and at least one foot away from inside walls. Give the kit at least four inches of clear space on all sides.
  • Do not test under ceiling fans or AC vents
  • Record the date and time on this sheet and then open the unit
  • Wait at least 48 hours (two days). You can leave the kit open for up to 72 hours.
  • Close the unit and record the date and time.
  • Return the device to Guam EPA
  • PLEASE NOTE – If you do not return the test kit within five days of receiving the kit and do not return attempts to contact you, Guam EPA will consider it a case of Theft and the Guam Police Department will be contacted.


    How do you keep radon out of your home?

    If a home or office has a high concentration of radon, mitigation systems that either blow radon outdoors or prevent it from entering the home can be installed.

    A reduction system consists of plastic pipe connected to the soil either through a hole in a slab, or foundation wall. Attached to the pipe is a quiet, continuously operating fan that discharges the radon outdoors.

  • Average Guam installation cost: $2,000-$2,500
  • Average operating cost in Guam: $6.00/month
  • Expected life span of fan: 11 years
  • Fan replacement cost: $145-$300
  • Periodic maintenance: none

  • Who can I contact for more information

    The radon program is run through Guam EPA’s Air Pollution Control Program.


    External links

    For more information about National Radon Action Month visit U.S. EPA’s site.