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University of Illinois Extension

40 Percent of Illinois Homes Test High for Radon

Moline, Ill. — Radon is a colorless, odorless, tasteless, radioactive gas that causes lung cancer. The Surgeon General lists radon as the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States and the leading cause of lung cancer for non-smokers. In Illinois, there are approximately 1160 deaths a year from lung cancer caused by radon.

If everyone could get the radon level in their homes down to 2 pCi/L or less, it could cut the lung cancer deaths from radon in half. With today's mitigation systems that vent radon out of the home, it is often possible to reduce the radon level below 2.

Radon gas comes from the breakdown of uranium, which is present naturally in the soil and rocks. Radon gas can enter the home through openings around pipes, the unsealed sump pit, and where floors and walls join. Radon also enters buildings through the crawl space or cracks in the basement or slab foundation.