General Radon Information

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

While most people are aware that air pollution can be hazardous to their health, many do not know that the air they breathe inside their own homes could be killing them. Millions of homes and buildings contain high levels of radon gas. Many do not even know it is present. When radon decays and is inhaled into the lungs, it releases energy that can damage the DNA in sensitive lung tissue and lead to lung cancer. In fact, prolonged exposure to high levels of radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States, contributing to between 7,000 and 30,000 lung cancer deaths each year.

Radon is a invisible, odorless and tasteless radioactive gas that occurs naturally in most rocks and soil. It is produced by the breakdown of uranium in soil, rock and water. Radon is harmlessly dispersed in outdoor air, but when trapped in buildings can increase the risk of lung cancer, especially at elevated levels. It typically enters a home the same way air and other soil gases enter the home, through cracks in the foundation, floor or walls, hollow-block walls, and openings around pipes, sump pumps, and floor drains. It can also be present in some construction materials and in water from underground sources including private wells.

Radon gas decays into radioactive particles that can get trapped in your lungs when you breathe. As they break down further, these particles release small bursts of energy that can damage lung tissue and lead to lung cancer over time. Not everyone exposed to elevated levels of radon will develop lung cancer and the time between exposure and the onset of the disease may be many years.

Like other environmental pollutants, some uncertainty exists about the magnitude of radon health risks. However, we know more about radon risks than risks from most other cancer-causing substances. This is because estimates of radon risks are based on studies of cancer in humans (underground miners). Additional studies on more typical populations are under way.

Children are reported to have greater risk than adults for certain types of radiation-source cancers. However, current data is inconclusive as to whether children are at greater risk than adults from radon.

Your chances of getting lung cancer from radon depend mostly on:

* Your home's radon level;

* The amount of time you spend in your home; and

* Whether you are a smoker or have ever smoked.

Some common myths about radon:

MYTH: Scientists are not sure that radon really is a problem.

FACT: Although some scientists dispute the precise number of deaths due to radon, all the major health organizations (like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the American Lung Association and the American Medical Association) agree with estimates that radon causes thousands of preventable lung cancer deaths every year. This is especially true among smokers, since the risk to smokers is much greater than to non-smokers.

MYTH: Radon testing is difficult, time-consuming and expensive.

FACT: Radon testing is inexpensive and relatively easy -- it should take only a little of your time. However, follow the directions carefully to assure an accurate, reliable measurement of radon.

MYTH: Radon testing devices are not reliable and are difficult to find.

FACT: Reliable testing devices are readily available from the many registered radon testing labs.

MYTH: Homes with radon problems can't be fixed, or can't be fixed economically.

FACT: There are solutions to radon problems in homes. Thousands of homeowners have already fixed radon problems in their homes. Radon levels can be readily lowered for $900 to $2,500.

MYTH: Radon affects only certain kinds of homes.

FACT: House construction can affect radon levels. However, radon can be a problem in homes of all types: old homes, new homes, drafty homes, insulated homes, homes with basements and homes without basements.

MYTH: Radon is only a problem in certain parts of the country.

FACT: High radon levels have been found in every state.

MYTH: A neighbor's test result is a good indication of whether your home has a problem.

FACT: Radon levels vary greatly from home to home. The only way to know if your home has a radon problem is to test it.

MYTH: Everyone should test his or her water for radon.

FACT: While it is true that everyone with a well should test their water for radon, anyone who gets their water from a town/public water supply does not need to test the water. The people in charge of the town/public water supply are already taking care of radon, along with many other possible contaminants. If you have questions about your towns water, call your water supplier.

MYTH: It is difficult to sell homes where radon problems have been discovered.

FACT: Many types of problems can hinder a home sale, but when the problems are fixed before the home is listed, the sales are not slowed down. It is the same for radon. All homes should be tested for radon, and those with problems fixed before being listed for sale.

MYTH: I've lived in my home for so long, it doesn't make sense to take action now.

FACT: You will reduce your risk of lung cancer when you reduce radon levels, even if you've lived with a radon problem for a long time.

MYTH: Short-term tests cannot be used for making a decision about whether to fix your home.

FACT: Short term tests can be used to decide whether to fix your home, and for higher radon levels (8 pCi/l or higher) that is all that should be used. Keep in mind that, even though the action level is 4, this is not a "safe" level and that radon levels below 4 pCi/l still pose some risk. Radon levels in most homes can be reduced to 2 pCi/l or less.