Tennessee Radon Program
Please allow 6-8 weeks to receive a test kit. Due to interest and high demand, receipt of kits may be delayed.
Did you know that approximately 1 in 4 homes tested for radon through this program tests above 4 pCi/L (picocuries per liter)?
Statistics from 2015-2020:
Percentage of tests over 4 pCi/L: 26%
Highest test result: 179 pCi/L
For your lungs, a radon level of 40 in your home is equivalent to smoking 4 packs of cigarettes per day. Protect your family by testing for radon in your home.
EPA advises that if the radon level detected in a home is between 2 and 4 pCI/L, steps should be taken to reduce it to below 2 pCi/L. EPA has established 4 pCi/L as an action level at which one should initiate measures to mitigate the amount of radon in the home. However, there is no safe level of radon.
What is Citizen Science?
Citizen science offers a unique opportunity for the public and the State of Tennessee to connect through environmental science. Citizen science allows the public to assist with scientific research – whether community-driven research or global investigations. Citizen science mobilizes the public to participate in the scientific process to address problems. Citizens of Tennessee can help by identifying research questions, collecting and analyzing data, making new discoveries, and developing technologies and applications.
When you test your home or school for radon, it helps to provide valuable information to the state to identify specific areas where radon may be more likely to occur. With this information, the Centers for Disease Control is able to better map radon levels in the state and help reduce the cases of radon induced lung cancer.
How Can I Get Involved?
Once you mail back your test kit to be analyzed, the results will be made available to you and shared with the state through our third party provider, AirChek.
Instructions are included when you receive your test kit, but there are still commonly made errors that can invalidate your kit. Some of the most frequent errors users make when testing are testing too long, improperly recording test time, and too much time passing before the kit is received back at the laboratory for analysis.
To remedy these common mistakes it is recommended to run the test for a maximum of 5 days, record the test time carefully, and mail the kit as soon as the test has concluded. Postage on the kits is prepaid which helps ensure that your kit gets to AirChek's laboratory as quickly as possible will provide the most accurate results. Some people find it useful to set a calendar alarm on a computer or phone to remind them when to conclude the test and mail it to the laboratory for analysis.
Radon-Resistant New Construction
Building a New Home? Consider radon-resistant new construction. New homes can be built to resist radon entry. The additional cost at the time of construction is minimal. When installed properly, the basic radon-resistant new construction techniques greatly reduce the lung cancer risk that may occur from radon in the home. When it comes time to sell your home, radon-resistant features can be an important selling point for health-conscious home-buyers. For additional information on radon-resistant new construction read EPA’s publication Building Radon Out.
Testing soil prior to building cannot predict what the radon levels will be once a home is completed. It is generally cheaper to install a radon reduction system during construction than to go back and fix a radon problem later. Installing radon-resistant features during construction typically costs about $350 to $500. In contrast, retrofitting an existing home can cost between $800 and $2,500. It is much easier and far less costly to prepare the subgrade and install pipe to improve soil gas flow before a foundation slab is cast.
A basic (passive) system can effectively reduce radon levels by 50%. Radon-resistant new construction incorporates techniques to seal soil gas entry points, prevent radon gas intrusion, and vent the radon outdoors. The techniques and materials needed to install a system are commonly used in construction. The features can also decrease moisture entering the home, reducing the risk for mold and other indoor air problems. If these features are already in the plans as a means of moisture control or energy efficiency, then the actual cost may be as low as $100 or less. Homes with a passive system can be upgraded to an active system with the installation of an in-line fan that can further reduce radon levels. After occupancy, all homes should be tested for radon, even those built with radon-resistant features.
How Do I Get My Home Fixed and Who Can do that Type of Work?
There are several ways to reduce or remove radon from a home. Generally, how your home was constructed will dictate the appropriate mitigation method.
Commercial companies can be hired to install one of the many types of radon mitigation systems, however TDEC recommends that a licensed mitigation company be used. Some examples are discussed in EPA’s Consumer Guide to Radon Reduction. Commercial companies that do radon work are not regulated by the state.
Two groups who train radon professionals are the National Radon Proficiency Program (NRPP) and the National Radon Safety Board (NRSB). Using these two external websites, you can locate a trained radon professional to measure or mitigate radon.
Be sure to check the type of certification the mitigator holds to ensure the company or person is appropriately credentialed to perform the job. It is advisable to check companies with your local Better Business Bureau (BBB) to better ensure they are reputable. It is also recommended that the homeowner obtain bids from several companies.
After a home radon mitigation system has been installed, follow-up radon testing should be conducted to ensure the system is working properly.
Websites and Handouts
There is a wealth of information available regarding radon. For more information, please explore the handouts and websites provided below.
- TDEC Tennessee Radon Flyer
Flyer with information on how to get your free test kit.
- TDEC Radon Test kit tips.
This flyer explains how to use your test kit and eliminate common mistakes made when testing.
- Tennessee Radon Mapping
This interactive map shows radon test results reported throughout Tennessee.
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
- EPA Radon
EPA's homepage for radon. Access FAQs , building information, information on TN and other states and more.
- Know Your Number
A guide by Kentucky Cancer Consortium, the EPA, and the Departments of Health and Human Service comparing cigarette consumption to radon exposure.
- Citizen's Guide to Radon
The citizen's guide to protecting yourself and your family from Radon.
- Protect your Family from Radon Flyer
Center for Disease Control's printable infographic with basic Radon facts and National Radon Hotline phone number.
- How to use your test kit
This is a video by a private contractor demonstrating how to use a radon testkit.
Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR)
- Radon information by ATSDR
This website contains additional information about radon and its risks.
For information regarding radon certifications, events, and policy/standards visit the National Radon Proficiency Program or National Radon Safety Board websites.
Frequently Asked Questions
Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas produced by the breakdown of uranium in rocks and soils. Radon gas is tasteless, colorless and odorless. The only way to know if it is in your home is to test for it.
Yes. The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) considers radon to be a serious problem in our state. Tennessee does have higher than the national average of radon in homes. No matter where you live in Tennessee, there is the potential for radon to enter your home. Regardless of your zone designation or geographic location, all homes should be tested for radon.
Radon gas has been identified as the second leading cause of lung cancer, second only to cigarette smoking. Radon is responsible for about 21,000 lung cancer deaths every year. About 2,900 of these deaths occur among people who have never smoked.
As radon gas breaks down, it emits high-energy alpha particles. These particles are in the air we breathe, and once inhaled, they can be deposited in our lungs. The energy associated with these particles can alter cell DNA, thus increasing the risk of lung cancer. Persons who smoke and live in a home with elevated radon levels are at a very high risk to develop lung cancer.
Fortunately, radon does not generally present a health risk outdoors because it is diluted in the open air. Radon can, however, build up to dangerous levels inside a house, any other buildings, or caves.
Radon is a radioactive gas that comes from the soil. Most homes and buildings are constructed atop the soil on a property. Air pressure inside your home is usually lower than pressure in the soil beneath and around your home's foundation. Because of this difference in air pressure, your house acts like a vacuum, drawing radon in through foundation cracks and other openings. Radon may also be present in well water and can be released into the air in your home when water is used for showering and other household uses. In most cases, radon entering the home through water is a small risk compared with radon entering your home from the soil.
Radon is measured in picocuries per liter of air or pCi/L. The average concentration of radon in outdoor air is 0.4 pCi/L. The average radon concentration in the indoor air of America’s homes is about 1.3 pCi/L The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has established 4 pCi/L as an action level in which one should initiate measures to reduce the amount of radon in a home. However, even levels below 4 pCi/L carry some risk. The EPA recommends that if the radon level detected in a home is between 2 and 4 pCi/L, steps should be taken to reduce it to below 2 pCi/L.
If the results of your radon test exceeded 4 pCi/L, TDEC and EPA recommend that a follow-up test be conducted. If the follow-up test results (or the average of the two tests) also exceed 4 pCi/L, it is recommended that your home should be fixed to reduce the radon levels. High radon levels in your home can be mitigated – often through measures such as ventilation. We highly recommend using a certified professional for mitigation. The National Radon Proficiency Program and AARST certify professionals. Please check their websites for information about qualified professionals in your area.
Carefully read the instruction sheet that comes with your radon test kit before starting your radon test. Our lab has identified common user errors related to duration of testing, such as: leaving the test out too long, improperly recording the test start and end times, and not returning the test to the lab in a timely manner.
Follow these tips for optimum test accuracy:
- Set an alarm or reminder on your calendar to take down the test at the end of 3-5 days;
- Run the test for a maximum of 5 days;
- Record the test time carefully; and
- Mail the kit to the lab for analysis as soon as the test is completed. Postage is prepaid!