HD11 - Report of the Secretary of Human Resources' Task Force on Radon

  • Published: 1988
  • Author: Secretary of Human Resources and Task Force on Radon
  • Enabling Authority: House Joint Resolution 229 (Regular Session, 1987)

Executive Summary:
Radon is a radioactive gas generated by the natural decay of uranium. It is odorless, tasteless, colorless, chemically inert, and highly mobile in the environment. As radon undergoes radioactive decay, it produces new radioactive elements called radon progeny. Radon progeny are solids, chemically active, and electrically charged which allows them to adhere to dust particles in the air or the inner lining of the lungs. Prolonged exposure of miners to high levels of radon progeny in underground mines has caused an increased risk of lung cancer. Since uranium is found in trace amounts throughout the earth's crust, radon can be found in soil or rock and in groundwater which has passed through soil or rock containing radioactive isotopes.

The information available on the concentration of radon or radon progeny in American homes is meager. Collection of data is continuing; however, conclusions drawn are often contradictory. The database of measurements of radon or radon progeny in homes in Virginia is also small; nevertheless, indoor radon appears to be a significant problem for some of the citizens of the Commonwealth.

In order to appropriately address this issue, the Radon Study Task Force recommends 1) that reliable information based on current research continue to be made available to the public; 2) that persons living in or purchasing homes in the piedmont and mountain (Blue Ridge and Valley/Ridge) regions of the Commonwealth be encouraged to test their homes for radon and to become knowledgeable on the topic; 3) that other residents of Virginia who are concerned about the presence of indoor radon have their homes tested; 4) that the results of ongoing radon research be monitored so that risks associated with indoor radon may be better quantified; 5) that home construction techniques being developed to minimize radon exposure be monitored and the results be disseminated to builders, building inspectors, realtors, and other interested parties, statewide; and 6) that the Commonwealth refrain, at this time, from mandating either radon testing prior to real estate transactions or licensing of companies engaged in radon testing or mitigation.