General Radon Information

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

Radon is a radioactive gas which comes from the decay of naturally-occurring uranium in soil, rock and water and can get into the air you breathe. You can't see radon. You can't smell it or taste it either. But it could be a problem if it gets into your home.

Radon was first recognized as an indoor environmental health concern in the mid-1980s, and media coverage of the issue both enlightened and alarmed the public. Radon is a Class A carcinogen and the second leading cause of lung cancer. The increased risk of developing lung cancer from radon is directly related to the concentration of radon and the length of time that a person is exposed to it. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that there are between 5,000 and 30,000 radon-related lung cancer deaths each year. Radon is the number one cause of lung cancer in nonsmokers, according to EPA.

How does radon enter your home? As air in your house heats up, it rises and leaks out of attic openings and around the upper floor windows, creating a small suction at the lowest level of the house. That suction pulls the radon out of the soil and into your house. Fortunately, there are extremely effective means of keeping radon out of your home. Qualified contractors can typically mitigate radon problems for a cost similar to that for may common home repairs such as painting or having a new water heater installed - anywhere from $800 to about $2,500.

According to a national residential radon survey completed in 1991, the average indoor radon level in the United States is 1.3 picocuries per liter (pCi/L). The average outdoor level is about 0.4 pCi/L. However, not all houses or buildings--even those in the same area or the same neighborhood--have the same radon level. The only way to find out what the radon level is in your house is to test for it.

Short-term tests take 60 hours to complete. The house is closed for 12 hours, then the test instrument is activated or opened and left in place for 48 hours or more.Long-term tests take more than 91 days to complete and are conducted with the house in a normal living mode. Alpha track detectors or electronic detection instruments are used. Long-term test results give a more representative picture of the true radon levels in the home over time as fluctuations due to changes in ambient temperature and barometric pressure are detected and factored into the final valuation.

In addition to being passed up through the ground, radon can enter a home through its water supply. If you drink water that is contaminated with radon, the EPA believes there is no real threat. However, radon gas can escape from the water and either create or add to a potential radon problem.

Generally, radon is not a problem with public drinking water systems because during the water treatment process aeration releases dissolved radon to the atmosphere. However, if the water supply is from a private well, radon levels could be unacceptably high. The recommendation is to test the well water if the air radon concentrations in the occupied dwelling are over 4pCi/l. If you have tested the air in your home and found a radon problem and your water comes from a private well, you should test the water. (Look in the yellow pages for a lab certified to measure radiation in water.)

Fortunately, survey and study results show that Louisiana ranks second to last in the United States in radon levels, followed by Hawaii. DEQ's Office of Air Quality and Radiation Protection has participated for the past three years in EPA's State Indoor Radon Grant Program. As part of the program, a survey in 1990 showed that only 0.8 percent of the 1,314 Louisiana homes tested exceeded the EPA action level for radon. Survey results for radon in below-grade buildings and in drinking water were also very low for Louisiana.

However, radon levels can differ dramatically from county to county, even house to house, so it is strongly recommended that everyone--even residents of a low-probability area--test their homes. "Despite the relatively low incidence in our state, it is far better to know for certain than to assume your home has no risk," says LSU AgCenter housing professor Dr. Claudette Reichel. "Radon is a serious public health hazard with a straightforward solution." Information on radon, the test kit, and suppliers of test kits may be obtained by calling the DEQ Radon Hotline, 1-800-256-2494, between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.