Los Gatos, Saratoga Homes Have High Radon Levels

Traces of dangerous gas are found in all homes, but there are ways to protect yourself from it.


Radon—a tasteless, colorless, odorless gas—is everywhere. It comes from the decay of uranium in soil and then accumulates in homes, where it can become dangerous.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), "elevated levels of [radon] are the leading cause of lung cancer among non-smokers."

Radon in buildings is measured in picocuries per liter (pCi/L). What that actually means is less important than knowing when your home has exceeded the safety threshold of radon pCi/L. EPA standards place the "take action" level at 4 pCi/L, meaning if radon levels reach or surpass that in a home, business, school or other building, the stewards of that building should do something about it.

The national indoor average radon level is 1.3 pCi/L, far below the level necessary to take action. In Santa Clara County, according to the website California Radon Information, the average level is exactly the same, 1.3 pCi/L. Over the hill in Santa Cruz County, they are much closer to the danger zone at 3.6 pCi/L. Six percent of homes in Santa Clara County are above the 4 pCi/L threshold.

In a recent radon testing sweep of the county, Los Gatos and Saratoga proved to be problem areas for radon with 25.3 and 16.3 percent of homes testing in the danger zone respectively. Elsewhere, Palo Alto had a 16.3 percent rate above 4 pCi/L and Sunnyvale came in at 13.5 percent. Areas like Gilroy, Morgan Hill and Milpitas did not have a single home test at alarming rates.

But high radon levels do not doom us all to cancer. There are a few steps that can be taken to prevent risks presented by radon:

  • Test. There are do-it-yourself radon testing kits available online and at hardware stores.
  • Fix: Contact a radon reduction contractor if your radon level is too high.
  • Save a Life: According to the EPA, 21,000 people die of lung cancer every year. Staying on top of dangerous radon levels is an easy way to prevent death.

To find a qualified radon professional, obtain a test kit or contact your state radon office, visit www.epa.gov/radon or call 1-800-SOS-RADON.

Rita imerson January 16, 2013 at 05:29 PM
If you need a contractor that specializes in this: sustainablehomesolutions.com
Don Welter January 16, 2013 at 06:03 PM
Its true that Radon is a carcInogen, but Radon testing is a scam business. Do your own google searches, do your own research. The EPA research and "sweeping" testing of local homes are typical scare tactics.
Ron Jones January 17, 2013 at 12:50 AM
As with almost any issue, there are plenty of people who will take advantage of the ill informed, but radon is serious stuff. Any home built over a crawlspace gets about 40% of the air the occupants breath from that crawlspace. This time of year, with doors and windows closed, that percentage only goes up. I would suggest ordering a radon few test kits (here's one source: http://www.cdph.ca.gov/HealthInfo/environhealth/Pages/RadonTestKits.aspx ). Put one or two in the crawlspace, a couple in the house, and one in the attic. Follow the instructions and see what you get. Cheap way to make an informed decision. By the way, radon emissions from the soils around your house may not be the only source of this deadly carcinogen. There is evidence that some granite countertops have been off-gassing radon, though I have no direct experience with this.
Don Welter January 17, 2013 at 06:08 PM
Good points Ron. Except the granite countertop reports from a few years ago were proven to be BS. The studies were funded by Quartz countertop companies who were challanging granite countertops for sales. Once independent studies were done -no or low radon levels were found. Info can be found at NKBA website.
Keith Dougherty January 23, 2013 at 08:29 PM
Does any one know what a Radon reduction contractor would do to reduce levels of Radon coming from the ground under your house? Seems to me you can't stop it, so the only other thing to do would be to seal up the crawlspace and any ductwork then vent the space to the roof using some type of exaust fan. Has anyone had this done?


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