More About Radon

What is Radon?

  • Radon is an invisible, odorless, tasteless radioactive gas.
  • According to the US EPA, radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States, and the leading cause among non-smokers.
  • Radon comes from the natural breakdown of uranium and enters homes, schools and other buildings from the soil.
  • Elevated indoor levels are found in every state in the US, and in every county in Illinois.
  • Radon is by far the greatest single source of radiation exposure to the general public:
    Radon accounts for 55% of radiation exposure to the public.
  • Radon was discovered in 1900 by Frederich Dorn, who called it radium emanation. Radon gas has been known by its current name since 1923.
  • Stanley Watras brought the radon issue to public attention in 1984. Mr. Watras, a construction worker, entered Limmerick Nuclear Power Plant in Pottstown, Pennsylvania. There were no radioactive materials yet at the plant, but he set off the radiation monitors because of radon and radon progeny clinging to his clothing and skin. With Watras's urging, they decided to test his home for radiation contamination and found high levels of radon.
  • The Watras case prompted a regional testing program and this information led the US EPA to launch advertising campaigns and, in 1986, pass the Indoor Air Quality Research Act. This Act prompted states to create their own radon programs.
  • The Illinois state radon program is in the Illinois Emergency Management Agency. IEMA Division of Nuclear Safety provides information about radon to citizens of Illinois. IEMA DNS also requires those professionals who test and mitigate for radon be licensed. For more information about radon from IEMA DNS, check out its website or call its toll-free voice recording at 1-800-325-1245.

For More Information About Radon

Fact Sheets

Healthy Indoor Air Series : Radon (University of Illinois Extension) [PDF]

ABC's of Radon

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