Radon Publications & Studies


Radon Publications

Both IEMA and USEPA publish informative documents on the control of indoor radon that are available to the general public. However, there are variations between Illinois measurement, mitigation laws and regulations, and USEPA reference or guidance documents. Yet both agree that radon poses health risks and both recommend taking action to reduce those risks when the Radon level is 4.0 pCi/L or more.

To obtain copies of USEPA radon documents, visit their website at www.epa.gov/iaq or phone 1-800-438-4318.

The following documents are in PDF format.

1.The ABC’s of Radon in Illinois - This document offers general information about what radon is, information about testing, and what to do if you have a problem.  The document is easy to read and understand.  This is the most requested document mailed out by the IEMA Radon Program.

2.A Status Report for Radon in Illinois - This document is an update of the September 1990 version of Radon in Illinois, A Status Report. It describes findings and recommendations regarding the existence and nature of the risk from radon in dwellings and other buildings in Illinois.

3.Let Me Tell You About Radon – This brochure provides facts about women taking control of their health and reducing their chances of lung cancer.

4.Guidelines for Home Environment Radon Measurements - This fact sheet summarizes radon-testing protocols for individuals wanting to test their home environment for radon. Because of the unique nature of real estate transactions, IEMA has designed special protocols for radon testing in real estate transactions. If you expect to be selling your house in the near future, we recommend that you request the IEMA fact sheet "Radon Testing Guidelines for Real Estate Transactions."

5.Radon Testing Guidelines for Real Estate Transactions – This fact sheet and pamphlet summarize radon-testing protocols for individuals involved in a real estate transaction. Either format of this document is the pamphlet approved by IEMA in accordance with the requirements of the Radon Awareness Act.

6.Handling Radon Properly - This sheet provides tips from Ralph Holmen, Associate General Counsel of the National Association of Realtors about how to handle radon in a real estate Transaction.

7.Passive Radon Reduction Systems - This brochure provides information about passive radon reduction systems and how they work.  The builder or a subcontractor installs passive systems during new construction.  By installing a passive system, homeowners can realize cost reduction and health benefits.

8.IEMA Guide to Radon Mitigation - This fact sheet summarizes radon reduction techniques followed by licensed radon mitigation professionals and offers the homeowner a guide to a quality radon mitigation system.

9.Radon Mitigation System Checklist This checklist is provided for use by licensed home inspectors in Illinois as a simple tool to verify mitigation systems installations comply with the requirements of 32 Illinois Administrative Code 422.  This checklist is not a substitute for a compliance inspection performed by IEMA Radon Program Staff.

10.32 Illinois Administrative Code 422 - This rule implements the Radon Industry Licensing Act.

11.Radon Industry Licensing Act - This is the legislation that required those providing radon testing and mitigation to be licensed with this Agency.  The 32 Illinois Administrative Code 422 outlines the details of how this licensing is implemented at IEMA.

12.Illinois Real Property Disclosure Act - An Act relating to the disclosure of knowledge of radon in a home by the seller of residential real property

13.Illinois Radon Awareness Act - This is the legislation that requires the seller to provide to the buyer of any interest in residential real property the IEMA pamphlet entitled "Radon Testing Guidelines for Real Estate Transactions" and the Illinois Disclosure of Information on Radon Hazards.

  1. 14.Disclosure of Information on Radon Hazards – This form has been reviewed by the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR). This form may be used to satisfy the requirements of the Radon Awareness Act.

You may request a copy of Illinois radon documents by emailing Patrick.Daniels@illinois.gov.  Indicate the publication(s) you want and your postal address in the text of the message.

Alzheimer’s & Parkinson’s

Could the Cause be Radon?

Alzheimer's & Parkinson's - Could the Cause be Radon?

In a study conducted at the University of North Dakota, researchers discovered that the presence of radioactive radon daughters in the brains of non-smoking persons with Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease was 10 times greater than it was in the brains of persons with no previous evidence of neurological disorders.

August 2, 2004 -- In a study conducted at the University of North Dakota, researchers discovered that the presence of radioactive radon daughters in the brains of non-smoking persons with Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease was 10 times greater than it was in the brains of persons with no previous evidence of neurological disorders. Professor Glenn Lykken and Dr. Berislav Momcilovic assert their study demonstrates that indoor radon gas has the capacity to irreversibly infest the brain with the poisonous progeny of radioactive heavy metals.

Recently revised EPA risks assessments estimate 21,000 Americans die annually from radon induced lung cancer, 150% higher than their 1994 estimate. However, scientists are increasingly suspicious that radon may be linked to disease in other parts of the body as well.

When inhaled, radon gas accumulates in lipid tissue throughout the body with the highest concentration in the brain, bone marrow, and nervous system. Additionally, one-third of the inhaled radon decay products (radioactive particles produced when the gas decays) pass from the lungs into the blood stream indicating that the gas does not flow quickly in and out of the lungs, but lingers in the body.

Previous study at UND determined that once radon is rapidly absorbed into the body from the lung, a fraction accumulates in the brain resulting in increased gamma ray emissions from bismuth-214 (one of the radioactive radon decay products) and altered EEG signals.

While radon is a lipid-soluble gas that can move freely in and out of the brain despite the blood-brain barrier, none of the transmuted heavy metal radon daughters are soluble in the lipids, meaning they remain trapped in the brain where they emit gamma radiation and alpha particles resulting in both radiation and chemical injury to the brain cells.

Of keen interest was the unexpected discovery that the radioactivity selectively accrues to the brain proteins in the Alzheimer's victims and to the brain lipids in the Parkinson's victims. This pathognomonic distribution was inferred to reflect the increase of local chlorine availability to which the radon daughters bound selectively.

Once present, the most likely candidate for radiation injury appears to be the highly radiosensitive astrocytes rather than the more radioresistant neurons, which do not divide. Other studies have indicated the astrocytes may be involved in Alzheimer's disease and the amyloid deposits and neurofibrillatory tangling observed with Alzheimer's may well reflect the response to radiation injury of the astrocytes.

Interestingly enough, the geographic distribution of Parkinson's disease mortality is considerably higher in states with greater radon potential, according to research by D.J. Lansak of the University of Kentucky and published in the Journal of Neurological Sciences.

An estimated 4.5 million Americans have Alzheimer's disease, the number having doubled in the last 25 years. An estimated 1.5 million Americans have Parkinson's disease with 60,000 new cases diagnosed each year.
University of North Dakota researchers are looking for more funding to continue their research. To access the study in its entirety, please go to
www.radonnews.org or the Alzheimer Disease and Associated Disorders Magazine. Contact: Professor G.I. Lykken at UND at (701) 777 - 3519.

Home Radon May Have Tie To Childhood Leukemia

NEW YORK JUL 18, 2008 (Reuters Health) - Children who live in homes with high radon levels may be at increased risk for acute lymphoblastic leukemia during childhood, but not other childhood cancers, research from Denmark suggests.

Acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) is a cancer of infection-fighting white blood cells. Outside of fetal exposure to X-rays and genetic conditions, the causes or risk factors associated with childhood ALL are poorly understood.

Higher rates of childhood cancer, and particularly leukemia, have been observed in geographic regions with higher levels of radon -- a natural radioactive gas that emanates from soils and can concentrate inside houses. Yet, studies assessing links between breathing radon gas and the risk for childhood cancer have yielded mixed results.

Against this backdrop, Dr. Ole Raaschou-Nielsen of the Institute for Cancer Epidemiology in Copenhagen, and colleagues looked at the lifetime radon exposures of 2,400 children who had been diagnosed with cancer between 1968 and 1994, and 6,697 cancer-free children.

All the children were born and living in Denmark, and were age 15 or younger. One-year radon measurements from regions in which the children lived were used to predict cumulative radon exposure.

The researchers found that children exposed to "intermediate" levels of radon had a 21 percent higher risk of developing ALL relative to children exposed to the lowest levels of radon. Children with the highest radon exposures had a 63 percent greater risk of ALL relative to those with the least exposure.

These associations held up in further analyses that factored in other characteristics potentially associated with increased cancer risk, such as mother's age, birth order, traffic density around the home, electromagnetic field exposures, and the building type of each home.

Raaschou-Nielsen and colleagues, who report their findings in the medical journal Epidemiology, say they have no obvious biological explanation for the suggested association between radon exposure and ALL.

In related commentary, Dr. Andrew F. Olshan, at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, cautions that these findings may just be a signal to devise long-term, progressively refined studies that may or may not reveal definitive answers.

"The etiology of childhood cancer has remained elusive, especially with regard to possible environmental influences," Olshan noted.

# SOURCE:Epidemiology, July 2008



Ole Raaschou-Nielsen, Institute of Cancer Epidemiology, Danish Cancer Society, Strandboulevarden 49, 2100 Copenhagen Ø, Denmark


This paper summarizes the epidemiological literature on domestic exposure to radon and risk for childhood leukemia. The results of 12 ecological studies show a consistent pattern of higher incidence and mortality rates for childhood leukemia in areas with higher average indoor radon concentrations. Although the results of such studies are useful to generate hypotheses, they must be interpreted with caution, as the data were aggregated and analyzed for geographical areas and not for individuals. The seven available case–control studies of childhood leukemia with measurement of radon concentrations in the residences of cases and controls gave mixed results, however, with some indication of a weak (relative risk < 2) association with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. The epidemiological evidence to date suggests that an association between indoor exposure to radon and childhood leukemia might exist, but is weak. More case–control studies are needed, with sufficient statistical power to detect weak associations and based on designs and methods that minimize misclassification of exposure and provide a high participation rate and low potential selection bias.


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