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Radon mitigation programs

Health Factors: Housing & Transit
Decision Makers: Community Development Professionals Local Government State Government Public Health Professionals & Advocates
Evidence Rating: Some Evidence
Population Reach: 100% of WI's population
Impact on Disparities: Likely to increase disparities

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Description

Radon mitigation programs aim to prevent radon from entering occupied buildings and to lower existing indoor air radon levels. Radon mitigation systems can include soil depressurization using a vent pipe system and a fan, sealing cracks and openings in building foundations, home or room pressurization, heat recovery ventilation, or natural ventilation (US EPA-Radon).

Expected Beneficial Outcomes

Reduced radon exposure
Improved health outcomes

Evidence of Effectiveness

There is some evidence that radon mitigation programs, particularly those using active soil depressurization methods, reduce exposure to radon and reduce the likelihood of developing lung cancer (Sandel 2010, NCHH-Jacobs 2009, Sethi 2012, Steck 2012, Lantz 2013). Additional evidence is needed to confirm effects. 

Active soil depressurization systems, which remove radon by suctioning radon gas from beneath a building’s foundation into a vent pipe and using a fan to blow it into the atmosphere where it can disperse quickly, are most effective at reducing radon levels (Sandel 2010, NCHH-Jacobs 2009, Steck 2012, Sethi 2012). Additional evidence is needed to determine the effectiveness of other mitigation interventions such as passive air, room pressurization, heat recovery ventilation, and radon mitigation for drinking water (NCHH-Jacobs 2009, US EPA-Radon). The effectiveness of each measure varies based on individual building characteristics (Sethi 2012).

The health benefits of radon mitigation vary depending on how many people are affected by the intervention and their individual characteristics (Gray 2009). Since radon exposure significantly increases the risk of lung cancer for smokers (Lantz 2013, Sethi 2012, Lichtenstein 2008), radon mitigation programs can have the greatest health benefits and be most cost effective when targeted at smokers or other high-risk populations (Lantz 2013).

Mitigation is often undertaken by individual property owners or tenants. The cost of mitigation and a lack of concern over elevated radon levels are often reasons individuals decide against mitigation. Concern over real estate values, living in a newer home (less than 10 years old), and possession of a college education are characteristics associated with the choice to mitigate (Riesenfeld 2007).

Implementation

United States

Most states have a radon protection program through their Department of Health. The US EPA includes information on state radon programs and contacts (US EPA-Radon contacts). 

Wisconsin

Wisconsin’s Radon Mitigation Program collects data on all radon tests in the state and operates 16 radon information centers. The program also provides information on how to upgrade homes to reduce radon leakage and offers a list of certified contractors to assist in radon abatement (WI DHS-Radon). 

Implementation Resources

Radon mitigation-KS - Kansas State University. National Radon Program Services: Radon mitigation. In collaboration with the US Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA). Accessed on March 14, 2016
US EPA-Radon federal action plan - US Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA), US Department of Health & Human Services (US DHHS), US Department of Agriculture (USDA). Federal radon action plan. Accessed on February 28, 2017
US EPA-Radon reduction 2013 - US Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA). Consumer’s guide to radon reduction: How to fix your home. 2013. Accessed on February 28, 2017

Citations - Description

US EPA-Radon - US Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA). Radon (Rn). Accessed on February 28, 2017

Citations - Evidence

Gray 2009* - Gray A, Read S, McGale P, Darby S. Lung cancer deaths from indoor radon and the cost effectiveness and potential of policies to reduce them. BMJ. 2009;338(a3110). Accessed on November 9, 2015
Lantz 2013* - Lantz PM, Mendez D, Philbert MA. Radon, smoking, and lung cancer: The need to refocus radon control policy. American Journal of Public Health. 2013;103(3):443–7. Accessed on February 5, 2016
Lichtenstein 2008 - Lichtenstein E, Boles SM, Lee ME, et al. Using radon risk to motivate smoking reduction II: Randomized evaluation of brief telephone counseling and a targeted video. Health Education Research. 2008;23(2):191-201. Accessed on March 1, 2016
NCHH-Jacobs 2009 - Jacobs DE, Baeder A. Housing interventions and health: A review of the evidence. Columbia: National Center for Healthy Housing (NCHH); 2009. Accessed on April 26, 2017
Riesenfeld 2007* - Riesenfeld EP, Marcy TW, Reinier K, et al. Radon awareness and mitigation in Vermont: A public health survey. Health Physics. 2007;92(5):425-31. Accessed on May 20, 2016
Sandel 2010* - Sandel M, Baeder A, Bradman A, et al. Housing interventions and control of health-related chemical agents: A review of the evidence. Journal of Public Health Management and Practice. 2010;16(5 Suppl):S24-33. Accessed on July 12, 2017
Sethi 2012* - Sethi TK, El-Ghamry MN, Kloecker GH. Radon and lung cancer. Clinical Advances in Hematology & Oncology. 2012;10(3):157–64. Accessed on May 20, 2016
Steck 2012* - Steck DJ. The effectiveness of mitigation for reducing radon risk in single-family Minnesota homes. Health physics. 2012;103(3):241–8. Accessed on November 9, 2015
US EPA-Radon - US Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA). Radon (Rn). Accessed on February 28, 2017

Citations - Implementation

US EPA-Radon contacts - US Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA). Information about local radon zones and state contact information. Accessed on March 16, 2017
WI DHS-Radon - Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS). Radon information for Wisconsin. Accessed on November 18, 2015

Page Last Updated

March 16, 2016

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