Radon Information for Healthcare Providers

Healthcare providers have an important role to play in educating patients. Read more about radon and steps you can take to encourage testing in homes.

Table of Contents

What is radon?

An image of a mock prescription pad. At the top is “RX,” Radon, the MA Radon Hotline (800) 723-6695, and space for a patient’s name and address. The body is a checklist for patients: test your home for radon, mitigate your home if radon levels are 4 pCi/L or above, hire a certified radon mitigation professional, and encourage neighbors, friends, and family to test their homes. At the bottom is space for a physician’s signature and date, as well as “refill number 1, 2, 3 or 4 until radon levels are fixed.”

Radon is a form of radiation that comes naturally from soil and rocks. Radon gas can travel from the ground into a building through cracks and holes in the foundation. It can also enter a home through private well water. Radon in water is usually a small source of risk compared to radon in the indoor air.

What are the dangers of radon?

Any amount of radon exposure has some risk of causing lung cancer. An estimated 21,100 U.S. deaths annually are attributed to radon exposure. Radon is the #1 cause of lung cancer among people who don’t smoke. For smokers, their risk of developing lung cancer from radon exposure is 10 times higher than for non-smokers.

The image shows a couch and end table supporting an ash tray with a lit cigarette. Text below the couch reads, “If you live in a home with high radon levels, smoking raises your risk of lung cancer by 10 times.” An air bubble shows an equation of house plus burning cigarette equals equal 10 times the risk of lung cancer.

Children are particularly vulnerable to ionizing radiation, especially early in life. Because children spend much of their time indoors, they may have increased exposure to radon and greater subsequent health risks. Children exposed to tobacco smoke along with radon may have an even higher risk for lung cancer.

Who should test their home for radon?

Everyone should test their home for radon. Any home can have high levels of radon—new and old homes, well- sealed and drafty homes, and homes with or without basements. In Massachusetts, an estimated 1 out of 4 homes are predicted to have high radon levels (above the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s action level of 4 pCi/L [picocuries per liter of air]). Testing the home is the only way to know if radon is a problem.


Resources on radon testing and mitigation are available at www.mass.gov/radon. If you have questions, contact the Massachusetts Radon Hotline at (800) 723-6695.

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