Department of State Codes Division Southern Tier Regional Office Newsletter

Radon Gas

Radon is a colorless, odorless, tasteless radioactive gas that can seep into houses.

Radon is a chemical element with symbol Rn and atomic number 86. Radon is a colorless, odorless, tasteless, naturally occurring, radioactive noble gas that is formed from the decay of radium. It is one of the heaviest substances that remains a gas under normal conditions and is considered to be a health hazard.

Radon is formed from the normal radioactive decay of uranium. Uranium has been around since the earth was formed and its most common isotope has a very long half-life (4.5 billion years), which is the amount of time required for one-half of uranium to break down. Uranium, radium, and thus radon, will continue to exist indefinitely at about the same levels as they do now.[1]

Radon is responsible for the majority of the mean public exposition to ionizing radiations. It is often the single largest contributor to an individual's background radiation dose, and is certainly the most variable from location to location. Radon gas from natural sources can accumulate in buildings, especially in confined areas such as basements. Radon can be found in some spring waters and hot springs.

Even though this gas can be a health hazard, there is nothing in the Uniform Code that requires Radon testing before issuing a Certificate of Occupancy.