General Radon Information

Oregon specific radon and radon level information can be found throughout this site. You will be able to find information about certified radon inspectors in Oregon, as well as detailed radon level information for every county in Oregon.

Radon (Rn) is a gaseous radioactive element that occurs from the natural breakdown of uranium in the soil and rocks. It is colorless, odorless, and tasteless. Radon becomes a risk indoors because as it continues to break down, it emits atomic particles that upon entering the lungs can alter the DNA and increase lung cancer risk. In fact, radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the nation and is classified as a “Class A” carcinogen according to EPA. Radon is not known to cause asthma or any other type of respiratory distress. Radon can be tested and measured (in picocuries per liter (pCi/L) of air) and there are estimated risks to health from the exposure depending on the concentration. DHSS in conjunction with EPA recommends that if the concentration of radon is 4pCi/L or greater, then remediation should be done to lower risks. Smoking in conjunction with radon exposure greatly increases the risk of cancer.

Radon is colorless, odorless and tasteless. The only way to find out how much radon is in your home is to test. Performing a radon test on your own is easy, inexpensive and can be done privately. Every home is unique due to its local soil, construction details, maintenance and degree of depressurization. Therefore, test results from nearby homes cannot be relied upon to predict the radon level in another home. Likewise, previous test results may not reflect current and future radon levels for a home that has been remodeled, weatherized or had changes made to its heating, air conditioning or other ventilation systems such as exhaust fans.

Radon is found in varying concentrations throughout the United States with moderate levels found in Oregon (generally under 40 picocuries of Radon per liter of indoor air). Four to ten percent of Oregon homes are estimated to have radon gas leaks.

The American Lung Association of Oregon has free materials on how to test and protect your home and offers coupons for inexpensive radon test kits from the National Safety Council. For all real estate transactions (buying or selling), the Oregon Department of Human Services and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recommend testing all living areas for Radon levels. As a minimum, the lowest level that is a potential living space should be tested both with short-term and long-term test methods to determine Radon levels over short periods (<7 days) and long-term to represent annual average exposures (>90 days).

The Oregon Indoor Radon Program provides short-term test kits to citizens free of charge for areas of the state with high potential radon levels and for those areas where limited testing results are available. The readings of these tests are added to a statewide database, which includes over 4000 test results. Recently, Oregon has increased emphasis for both home testing and mitigation and school assessments to determine levels of testing of multiple environmental hazards.

The Oregon Department of Human Services, Health Services recommends the following actions when the initial short-term testing results for Radon are received from the testing lab:

· At levels below 4 pCi/L, no further action is recommended.

· At levels between 4-10 pCi/L, conduct a long-term test to verify results prior to taking corrective action.

· At levels between 10-20 pCi/L, conduct a second short-term test to verify initial results. If the average of the two tests exceeds 4 pCi/L, plan on taking action to reduce the level of Radon.

· At levels above 20 pCi/L, action to reduce Radon below 4 pCi/L is recommended.

Oregon's Radon in indoor air program is charged with providing public education concerning the health effects of long term exposure to Radon and to the promotion of testing for Radon indoors. Specific questions concerning the Radon Program should be addressed to Ray Jester, Radon Program Coordinator by telephone at 971-673-0496 or by E-mail to raymond.a.jester@state.or.us. You may also contact the RPS Program Manager, Terry Lindsey at 971-673-0499 or E-mail to terry.d.lindsey@state.or.us

Oregon has participated in the State Indoor Radon Grant (SIRG) program for fifteen consecutive years. The primary goals of this program are to increase public awareness of the risk of exposure to elevated levels of radon gas and its radioactive decay progeny, and to provide an ongoing assessment of potentially high radon areas throughout the state.

The program maintains and provides lists of radon measurement and mitigation professionals determined to be radon proficient by one of the two national organizations that provide radon certification. Although Oregon does not enforce radon certification requirements, we strongly recommend that certified radon professionals be used to conduct radon measurements and install radon reduction systems. This information can be located on the radon page as part of the Radiation Protection Services website.