Skip to main navigation Skip to main content

What It Is

The Kentucky Radon Program is involved in educational and awareness programs for citizens throughout the commonwealth, including exhibits and staff presentations, responding to phone and e-mail inquiries, and distributing radon awareness literature.

The program also acts as liaison between the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, county and district health departments and universities, which receive mini-grants through the program.

Contact Information and Test Kits

If you are a Kentucky resident you may request a free test kit. Please click here for a listing of local health department contacts.  If your county is not listed, please call or e-mail the state office to receive your free test kit.  If requesting a test kit by e-mail, please be sure to include your name, county, and address.

What The Radon Test Means

The average indoor radon level is estimated to be about 1.3 pCi/L, and about 4 pCi/L of radon is normally found in the outside air. The U.S. Congress has set a long-term goal that indoor radon levels be no more than outdoor levels. While this goal is not yet technologically achievable in all cases, most homes today can be reduced to 2 pCi/L or below.

Year-long testing is the best way to determine what radon levels are in your home. EPA believes that any radon exposure poses some risk—no level of radon is safe. Even radon levels below 4 pCi/L pose some risk, and you can reduce your risk of lung cancer by lowering your radon level.

If your living patterns change and you begin occupying a lower level of your home (such as a basement) you should retest your home on that level.  Even if your test result is below 4 pCi/L, you may want to test again sometime in future.

More and more, home buyers and renters are asking about radon levels before they buy or rent a home. Because real estate sales happen quickly, there is often little time to deal with radon and other issues. The best thing to do is to test for radon now and save the results in case the buyer is interested in them. Fix a problem if it exists so it won’t complicate your home sale. If you are planning to move, call your state radon office for EPA pamphlet Home Buyer’s and Seller’s Guide to Radon, which addresses some common questions.

During home sales buyers often ask if a home has been tested, and if elevated levels were reduced. Buyers might want to know the radon levels in areas of the home (like a basement they plan to finish) that the seller might not otherwise test. Contact the Kentucky Radon Program for a list of certified radon testers.

Today many homes are built to prevent radon from coming in. If you are buying or renting a new home, ask the owner or builder if it has radon-resistant features.

Radon In Water

Compared to radon entering the home through soil, radon entering the home through water will in most cases be a small source of risk. Radon gas can enter the home through well water. It can be released into the air you breathe when water is used for showering and other household uses. Research suggests that swallowing water with high radon levels may pose risks too, although risks from swallowing water containing radon are believed to be much lower than those from breathing air containing radon.
While radon in water is not a problem in homes served by most public water supplies, it has been found in well water.  If you’re on a public water supply and are concerned that radon may be entering your home through the water, call your public water supplier. If your water comes from a private well, contact a lab certified to measure radiation in water to have your water tested.

EPA Drinking Water Hotline (800-426-4791)

Radon problems in water can be readily fixed. The most effective treatment is to remove radon from the water before it enters the home. This is called point-of-entry treatment. Treatment at your water tap is called point-of-use treatment. Unfortunately, point-of-use treatment will not reduce most of the inhalation risk from radon.

Call your state radon office or the EPA Drinking Water Hotline (800-426-4791) for more information on radon in water.

How To Lower The Radon Level In Your Home

Since there is no known safe level of radon, there can always be some risk, but the risk can be reduced by lowering the radon level in your home.

A variety of methods are used to reduce radon in your home. In some cases, sealing cracks in floors and walls may help to reduce radon. In other cases, simple systems using pipes and fans may be used to reduce radon. Such systems are called "sub-slab depressurization," and do not require major changes to your home. These systems remove radon gas from below the concrete floor and the foundation before it can enter the home. Similar systems can also be installed in houses with crawl spaces. Radon contractors use other methods that may also work in your home. The right system depends on the design of your home and other factors.

Ways to reduce radon in your home are discussed in EPA’s "Consumer’s Guide to Radon Reduction." You can get a copy from your state radon office.

The cost of making repairs to reduce radon depends on how your home was built and the extent of the radon problem. Most homes can be fixed for about the same cost as other common home repairs like painting or having a new hot water heater installed. The average house costs about $ 1,200 for a contractor to fix, although this can range from about $500 to about $2,500.

Lowering high radon levels requires technical knowledge and special skills. You should use a contractor who is trained to fix radon problems. Two private agencies - "National Environmental Health Association" and "National Radon Safety Board" - certify measurement and mitigation firms.  The state radon office can provide lists of those who are certified by these organizations. Picking someone to fix your radon problem is much like choosing a contractor for other home repairs — you may want to get references and more than one estimate.

You should also test your home again after it is fixed to be sure that radon levels have been reduced. Most radon reduction systems include a monitor that will alert you if the system needs servicing. In addition, it’s a good idea to retest your home sometime in the future to be sure radon levels remain low.

Radon and Home Renovations

If you are planning any major structural renovation, such as converting an unfinished basement area into living space, it is especially important to test the area for radon before you begin the renovation. If your test results indicate a radon problem, radon-resistant techniques can be inexpensively included as part of the renovation. Because major renovations can change the level of radon in any home, always test again after work is completed.

How To Test Your Home For Radon

You can’t see radon, but it's not hard to find out if you have a radon problem in your home. All you need to do is test for radon. Testing is easy and should only take a few minutes of your time.

The amount of radon in the air is measured in "picocuries per liter of air," or "pCi/L.’ Sometimes test results are expressed in Working Levels (WL) rather than picocuries per liter (pCi/L). If you prefer, or if you are buying or selling a home, you can hire a trained contractor to do the testing for you. Make certain you hire an EPA-qualified or state-certified radon tester. Call your state radon office for a list of these testers. 

There are two general ways to test for radon

Year-Long Testing: The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Kentucky Radon Program recommends that homes be tested for one full calendar year when practical.  Alpha track and electret detectors are commonly used for this type of testing. A year long test will give you a reading that will give you your home's year-round average radon level.

Short-Term Testing: The quickest way to test is with short-term tests.  The Kentucky Radon Program provides these cost free for Kentucky residents.

Contact your county health department or our office at the phone number listed above. Many kinds of low-cost do-it-yourself radon test kits are available through the mail and in hardware stores and other retail outlets. Make sure you buy a test kit that has passed EPA testing or is state certified. These kits will usually display the phrase Meets EPA Requirements.

Short-term tests remain in your home for 2 to 90 days, depending on the device. Charcoal canisters, alpha track electret ion chamber, continuous monitors and charcoal liquid scintillation detectors are most commonly used for short-term testing.

Because radon levels tend to vary from day to day and season to season, a short-term test is less likely than a long-term test to tell you your year-round average radon level.  

How to use a test kit

Follow the instructions that come with your test kit. If you are doing a short-term test, close your windows and outside doors and keep them closed as much as possible during the test. (If you are doing a short-term test lasting just 2 or 3 days, be sure to close your windows and outside doors at least 12 hours before beginning the test, too. You should not conduct short-term tests lasting just 2 or 3 days during unusually severe storms or periods of unusually high winds.) The test kit should be placed in the lowest lived-in level of the home (for example, the basement if it is frequently used, otherwise the first floor). It should be put in a room that is used regularly (like a living room, playroom, den or bedroom) but not your kitchen or bathroom. Place the kit at least 20 inches above the floor in a location where it won’t be disturbed—away from drafts, high heat, high humidity and exterior walls. Leave the kit in place for as long as the package says. Once you’ve finished the test, reseal the package and send it to the lab specified on the package right away for study. You should receive your test results within a few weeks. 

The Following Testing Steps Are Recommended For Home Owners

  1. Step 1 Test with a year-long kit when practical. If your result is 4.0 pCi/L or higher*, have your home repaired. 
  2. Step 2. A short-term test kit may be used. Many kinds of low-cost do-it-yourself radon test kits are available through the mail and in hardware stores and other retail outlets. Make sure you buy a test kit that has passed EPA testing or is state certified. These kits will usually display the phrase Meets EPA Requirements. If your results are 4.0 pCi/L or higher, repeat the test. Average the results of the two tests. If the result is 4.0 pCi/L or higher, have your home repaired. The higher your short-term results, the more certain you can be that you should fix your home. 
  3. Step 3.  If a short-term radon test is used and the results are less than 4.0pCi/L, consider placing a year-long test kit to confirm the results.

The Following Testing Steps Are Recommended For Real Estate

  1. Step 1. Contact a certified radon measurement professional. A list of certified professionals is available from the state radon program. If the results from the test is 4.0 pCi/L or higher, have the home mitigated.
  2. Step 2.  You may chose to test the home yourself. Many kinds of low-cost do-it-yourself radon test kits are available through the mail and in hardware stores and other retail outlets. Make sure you buy a test kit that has passed EPA testing or is statecertified. These kits will usually display the phrase Meets EPA Requirements. Place the radon test kit per the manufacturer's instructions. Repeat the test immediately. Average the results of the two tests. If your result is 4 pCi/L or higher*, have the home repaired.
  3. Step 3.  If test results are less than 4.0pCi/L, consider placing a year-long test kit to confirm the results.

*0.02 Working Levels (WL) or higher

How Radon Gets Into Your Home

Radon is a radioactive gas. It comes from the natural decay of uranium that is found in nearly all soils. It typically moves up through the ground to the air above and into your home through cracks and other holes in the foundation. Your home traps radon inside, where it can build up. Any home may have a radon problem. This means new and old homes, well-sealed and drafty homes, and homes with or without basements.

Radon from soil gas is the main cause of radon problems. Sometimes radon enters the home through well water. In a small number of homes, the building materials can give off radon, too. However, building materials rarely cause radon problems by themselves.

Nearly 1 out of every 15 homes in the U.S. is estimated to have elevated radon levels. Elevated levels of radon gas have been found in homes in your state. Contact your state radon office for general information about radon in your area. While radon problems may be more common in some areas, any home may have a problem. The only way to know about your home is to test.

Radon gets in through:

  • Cracks in solid floors 
  • Construction joints 
  • Cracks in walls 
  • Gaps in suspended floors 
  • Gaps around service pipes 
  • Cavities inside walls 
  • The water supply 

Test your home now and save your results.  If you find high radon levels, fix your home before you decide to sell it.

Hammering in the Hills

In the spring of 1997, Habitat for Humanity came to eastern Kentucky for a week long event called "Hammering in the Hills."  Fifty homes were built using Radon resistant technology.

Former President Jimmy Carter and celebrities such as Governor Patton, the Oak Ridge Boys and Crystal Gayle worked to produce low cost housing in several Appalachian communities.

As the walls were being framed, a hole was drilled for a 3 or 4 inch pipe. The pipe is inserted and an air-tight seal was placed around it. Beneath the foundation the pipe is fitted with a T-joint.  Later, the pipe will be placed under the plastic and the plastic sealed to the foundation. The air inside the house and inside the pipe will rise when warmed, creating a natural draft. This draws the radon gas to the outside.

In the attic space, an electrical outlet is "roughed in."  If the natural draft is not enough to bring radon levels to below 4.0 pci/l, an electrical fan will be added. The pipe continues through the roof to the outside.  It may or may not have a cap.

It makes good sense to have a home built Radon Resistant as opposed to mitigating after the house is completed.  Cost for Radon Resistant new construction usually costs $500 or less.  Mitigation usually costs $800 - $1,000.

How Radon Gets Into Your Home

Radon is a radioactive gas. It comes from the natural decay of uranium that is found in nearly all soils. It typically moves up through the ground to the air above and into your home through cracks and other holes in the foundation. Your home traps radon inside, where it can build up. Any home may have a radon problem. This means new and old homes, well-sealed and drafty homes, and homes with or without basements.

Radon from soil gas is the main cause of radon problems. Sometimes radon enters the home through well water. In a small number of homes, the building materials can give off radon, too. However, building materials rarely cause radon problems by themselves.

Nearly 1 out of every 15 homes in the U.S. is estimated to have elevated radon levels. Elevated levels of radon gas have been found in homes in your state. Contact your state radon office for general information about radon in your area. While radon problems may be more common in some areas, any home may have a problem. The only way to know about your home is to test.

Radon can be a problem in schools and workplaces, too. Ask your state radon office about radon problems in schools and workplaces in your area. 

Any Home May Have A Radon Problem

Radon gets in through:
  • Cracks in solid floors 
  • Construction joints 
  • Cracks in walls 
  • Gaps in suspended floors 
  • Gaps around service pipes 
  • Cavities inside walls 
  • The water supply

Radon Myths & Facts

​Although some scientists dispute the precise number of deaths due to radon, all major health organizations (like the Centers for Disease Control, the American Lung Association and the American Medical Association) agree with estimates that radon causes thousands of preventable lung cancer deaths every year. This is especially true among smokers, since the risk to smokers is much greater than to non-smokers. 

​Radon testing is inexpensive and easy - it should take only a little of your time. 

​Reliable test kits are available through the mail, in hardware stores and other retail outlets. Call your state radon office for a list of test kit companies that have met EPA requirements for reliability or are state certified.

​There are simple solutions to radon problems in homes. thousands of homeowners have already fixed radon problems in their homes. Radon levels can be readily lowered for about $500 to $2,500. Call your state radon office for a list of contractors that have met EPA requirements or are state certified.

House construction can affect radon levels. However, radon can be a problem in homes of all types: old homes, new homes, drafty homes, insulated homes, homes with basements, homes without basements.

​High radon levels have been found in every state. Radon problems do vary from area to area, but the only way to know your radon level is to test.

​It's not. Radon tlevels vary from home to home. the only way to know if your home has a radon problem is to test it.

​While radon gets into some homes through the water, you should first test the air in your home for radon. if you find high levels and your water comes from a well, contact a lab certified to measure radiation in water to have your water tested.

​Where radon problems have been fixed, home sales have not been blocked or frustrated. the added protection is some times a good selling point.

​You will reduce your risk of lung cancer when you reduce radon levels, even if you've lived with a radon problem for a long time

Radon Awareness Calendar Contest

Kentucky Radon Program 
275 E. Main St. 
Frankfort, Ky. 40621 
(502) 564-4856 
Heather Enlow

How To Enter

2008-2009 Winner

  • Jalen Cage, Kenton County 

Documentation