Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas that is odorless, colorless, and invisible. Radon is a carcinogen and is the leading cause of lung cancer among non-smokers. Radon levels are high throughout the Rocky Mountain West, including Montana.
In Gallatin County, 37% of tested homes had high radon levels. Children, low-income families, seniors, and rural residents are especially at-risk for radon exposure.
Radon in your home
Radon enters your home through cracks and holes in your foundation or basement. Radon gas sinks to the lowest spot in your home, such as a basement, crawlspace, or ground-floor apartment.
Groundwater is also a radon source. Wells release radon into your home through sinks, showers, and washing machines.
Smoking and radon
Smokers exposed to high radon levels have a greater risk of developing lung cancer than nonsmokers. More than 85% of deaths from radon-caused lung cancer are among smokers. Gallatin City-County Health Department has resources to help you quit smoking and reduce your lung-cancer risk.
Are you ready to quit tobacco use? Contact the Montana Tobacco Quite Line, today.
Home radon testing
The EPA recommends testing all homes for radon that are below the third floor. The Gallatin City-County Health Department sells low-cost radon test kits. We have both short-term (tests for 2-4 days) and long-term (tests for 3-12 months) radon test kits.
Radon levels fluctuate by day and season. We suggest first testing your air with a short-term kit, to determine if your home radon levels are high. Long-term kits provide a picture of radon levels in your home over time.
For test kits and additional resources on reducing home radon levels, contact our office:
Environmental Health Services
215 W Mendenhall Street, Suite #108
Bozeman, MT 59715
Reduce home radon levels
Reduce radon levels in your home by improving air circulation. Keep doors open, use fans, and open basement vents. Keep windows open in warmer months. These cost-effective measures temporarily reduce radon levels in your home.
Qualified contractors can permanently reduce in-home radon levels. Contractors find and fix holes where radon enters your home. Contractors can also install a radon mitigation system to reduce radon. Radon mitigation systems can be costly and require lifetime maintenance to ensure they continue reducing radon.
To ensure quality work, hire a contractor certified in radon testing and mitigation. Ask your contractor to prepare a contract that clearly states the projected workload, the guaranteed results of the work, and an itemized list of associated costs. For additional information on creating a radon mitigation contact, visit this useful EPA guide.
Know before you buy
Before you purchase a home, know the radon risks and potential mitigation costs. Ask the seller for a reliable radon test and for any records of radon mitigation work done for the home. Verify the guarantee of any past radon mitigation work will still apply with the sale of the home.
Take steps when designing your home to reduce your family’s exposure to radon. Radon-resistant construction is a cost-effective and long-term solution to reducing home radon levels.
Resources for renters
Property owners in Montana must maintain their rental units “in a fit and habitable condition”. Renters can request radon test results from property owners, as well as radon mitigation for rental units with high radon levels. For legal assistance with landlord-tenant issues, contact the Gallatin Legal Assistance Clinic.