In Fannin and Gilmer counties, 36% and above of homes test for elevated levels of radon. Radon is an odorless gas that seeps out of soil and rock and into the air. It is formed when uranium that is found in soil and rock, breaks down, emitting radon gas. While radon is not dangerous outdoors, if it emerges under a home it can seep in and reach dangerous concentrations. The only way to detect radon is to test for it.
Exposing yourself and your family to a high level of radon over several years increases the risk of developing lung cancer. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer behind smoking.
About one in fifteen homes have an elevated level of radon (4 picocuries per liter or greater). In much of Georgia, homes are much more likely to have elevated levels of radon when compared to the national average. Granite rock found in the soil beneath our homes elevates the risk for radon intrusion. Thus, North Georgia homes tend to have higher levels of radon than other areas in Georgia.
To help you identify the risk of radon in your county, the University of Georgia Radon Program recently updated its radon map. Visit radon.uga.edu to view an interactive map of radon risk throughout the state. In some Georgia counties, one in two homes tested has an elevated level of radon. In most of the counties north of Columbus, Macon and Augusta, the risk of having an elevated level of radon in your home is significantly above the national average.
Regardless of where your home is or how it is built, we recommend testing for radon gas. Testing is inexpensive and ensures your home remains radon safe. You can pick up a radon air test kit from your local UGA Extension office for $10.
Instructions for Radon in the Air Testing
- If you have not already, obtain a test kit provided by UGA Extension.
- Make sure all exterior doors and windows have been closed at least 12 hours prior to testing, except for normal exit and entry. Run your AC or heat as you normally do.
- Insert a piece of cardboard into the opening of the test kit. This cardboard helps to keep your test kit open. Then hang the test kit 2 to 6 feet from the floor in the lowest part of your home that is used on a daily basis, such as bedroom or a living room. Do not hang a test kit in the bathroom kitchen or garage.
- Leave the test kit undisturbed for a minimum of three days and a maximum of seven days.
- After you’re done testing, discard the cardboard and remove the white strip to seal the test kit envelope. After you have sealed the envelope, print your name and address clearly on the back.
- Before mailing, write down four important numbers on the back of the envelope: starting date, starting time, ending date, and ending time. These four numbers are essential for laboratory to analyze your test kit.
- Mail the test kit immediately for analysis. You should receive results within seven to ten days.
If your drinking water comes from a well or other underground source, then it could also contain radon. If you have a private well, we recommend testing your air first and if that result is high, then test your drinking water. Just like with the radon air test kit, you may pick up a radon in the water test kit from your local UGA Extension office.