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New Construction


Building a new home?

Want to know if you can test the soil to find out if you will have radon?
Should you take preventive measures during construction?

Well, if you are building a new home there is no reliable way to test the soil before construction.  Soil testing has been tried and shown to be unreliable, the end result will always be the same, pre-running pipe will be recommended. If you can even find someone to do the test the cost can exceed the price of taking radon reducing measures. Testing the top soil won’t tell you if you will have a problem down below your foundation and there are other factors that will influence the radon level once the home is built.

We recommend checking the EPA Radon Zone Map .  Also contact local testing companies and ask them what percentage of homes they’re finding with elevated radon levels in your area. If you live in an area where radon is present, consider installing a radon vent pipe during construction.

Don’t forget some of the the added benefits of a radon vent pipe;
Can reduce humidity in the basement.
Can decrease odors.
May reduce mold.
Radon is not the only gas below your home, natural decomposition of organic matter creates ammonia, methane and carbon dioxide that can also enter your home.



Radon causes an estimated 21,000 lung cancer deaths each year. It is the earth’s only naturally produced radioactive gas and comes from the breakdown of uranium in soil, rock, and water. You cannot see or smell radon, but it can become a health hazard when it accumulates indoors. It can enter your home through cracks and openings in the foundation floor and walls. When radon decays and is inhaled into the lungs, it releases energy that can damage the DNA in sensitive lung tissue and cause cancer.

Simple and inexpensive techniques reduce radon levels on average by 50%. The techniques may also lower levels of other soil gases and decrease moisture problems.

Building in the features is much cheaper than fixing a radon problem later.

The techniques described here also make your home more energy efficient and could provide you an average of $65 savings per year in your energy costs.

If high levels of radon are found, a fan can easily be installed as part of the system for further radon reduction.

EPA figures based on averages at the time this table was produced. (pre-2000)

Average cost to install
radon-resistant features in
an existing home:
$800 – $2,500

Average cost to install
radon-resistant features during
new home construction:
$350 – $500

The techniques may vary for different foundations and site requirements, but the basic elements are:

A. Gas Permeable Layer
This layer is placed beneath the slab or flooring system to allow the soil gas to move freely underneath the house. In many cases, the material used is a 4-inch layer of clean gravel.
B. Plastic Sheeting
Plastic sheeting is placed on top of the gas permeable layer and under the slab to help prevent the soil gas from entering the home. In crawl-spaces, the sheeting is placed over the crawlspace floor.
C. Sealing and Caulking
All openings in the concrete foundation floor are sealed to reduce soil gas entry into the home.
D. Vent Pipe
A 3- or 4-inch gas-tight or PVC pipe (commonly used for plumbing) runs from the gas permeable layer through the house to the roof to safely vent radon and other soil gases above the house.
E. Junction Box
An electrical junction box is installed in case an electric venting fan is needed later.
Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer after smoking.
High radon levels have been found in every state.
Levels can vary widely, even from home to home in the same neighborhood.
Radon levels can be lowered, and homes can be built radon-resistant.

Simple, inexpensive techniques can be used to lower radon levels and increase energy efficiency in your new home. Here are basic steps to follow when buying a new home.

1. Check Your Area’s Radon Potential

Find out if you are buying a home in a high radon area. The Environmental Protection Agency’s map of radon zones shows which areas have the greatest potential for elevated indoor radon readings. Homes in places with high radon potential, called Zone 1 areas, should be built with radon-resistant features.

2. Install a Radon Reduction System

Talk to your builder about installing a radon reduction system. You can obtain free copies of the EPA’s Model Standards and architectural drawings and use them to explain the techniques to your builder. Let your builder know that the radon resistant features can be easily installed with common building practices and materials.

3. Remember: Test Your Home

Every new home should be tested for radon after occupancy. Test your home even if it has the radon resistant features. Test kits are inexpensive and may be purchased at your local hardware store. Or simply call the National Safety Council Radon Hotline at (800) SOS-RADON to order a test kit.

4. If Radon Levels Are Still High, Activate

If your home tests at 4.0 picocuries per liter (pCi/L) or above, activate the system by installing an in-line fan. Call a local radon mitigator about installing the fan. Check with your state radon office for names of qualified or state certified radon contractors in your area.

Free Information

Many publications are available to you. Here are just a few suggestions:

EPA’s Revised Home Buyers and Sellers Guide to Radon
Model Standards and Techniques for Control of Radon in New Residential Buildings,
developed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the building industry with details on how to install radon-resistant techniques in your new home.
Architectural Drawings of Radon-Resistant Construction Techniques [You can also download a PDF version of the drawings: “Passive Radon Control Systems for New Construction,” U.S. EPA, Indoor Environments Division, EPA 402-95012, May 1995. This PDF file includes (for one- and two-family dwellings): 1) Passive radon control system; 2) Crawlspace radon control system; and, 3) Additional fan for active system.]

Where To Find Free Information

National Service Center for Environmental Publications (NSCEP) (to order EPA documents online)
Or call 1-800-490-9198/(513) 489-8695 (fax)
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
National Center for Environmental Publications (NSCEP)
P.O. Box 42419
Cincinnati, OH 45242
EPA’s Radon Hotline: 1-800-55-RADON (1-800-557-2366)

Also Available

The Council of American Building Officials One- and Two-Family Dwelling Code Appendix F also details radon-resistant techniques. Call (708) 799-2300.
Order a kit to explain to your builder the radon resistant techniques from the National Association of Home Builders. Call the Home Builder Bookstore at 1-800-223-2665 and order “Building Radon Resistant Homes: A Builder’s Independent Study Kit.”