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Smoking is the leading cause of lung cancer, but did you know non-smokers get lung cancer, too? Radon is the leading cause of lung cancer in non-smokers, killing about 21,000 people per year. You cannot see or smell radon, which makes it hard to know when it’s there without taking a much closer look at the air inside your home.

What Is Radon?

Below every home is bedrock, groundwater, and soil. When those materials start to break down, the radium, thorium, and uranium within them are released. As they’re radioactive metals, they can form a radioactive gas known as radon. Radon is everywhere, but the levels it’s at vary from one area to another. 

When you have gaps and cracks in your home’s basement walls, crawlspaces, windows, doors, etc., it can let that radioactive gas in. Radon can also come from granite counters and tile flooring, though it’s unlikely the release of radon exceeds the levels found naturally in the air. Again, radon is everywhere so it’s impossible to avoid it. Its levels, however, can be unsafe and increase the risk of serious health issues.

The risk of developing lung cancer from radon increases as the amount of radon increases. Radon is measured in picocuries (one trillionth of a Curie) per liter of air or pCi/L for short. Essentially, it determines how quickly the breakdown of radioactive decay takes. One pCi is the equivalent of 0.037 radioactive disintegrations per second.

If you look at some radon levels, it becomes a little clearer as to why this is so important.

  • At 2 pCi/L, there’s a 3.2% chance of getting lung cancer if you also smoke.
  • At 4 pCi/L, there’s a 6.2% chance of getting lung cancer if you also smoke.
  • At 8 pCi/L, there’s a 12% chance of getting lung cancer if you also smoke.
  • At 10 pCi/L, there’s a 15% chance of getting lung cancer if you also smoke.
  • At 20 pCi/L, there’s a 26% chance of getting lung cancer if you also smoke.

If you’ve never smoked, the odds are a little better, but they’re still not perfect.

  • At 2 pCi/L, there’s a 0.4% chance of getting lung cancer.
  • At 4 pCi/L, there’s a 0.7% chance of getting lung cancer.
  • At 8 pCi/L, there’s a 1.5% chance of getting lung cancer.
  • At 10 pCi/L, there’s a 1.8% chance of getting lung cancer.
  • At 20 pCi/L, there’s a 2% chance of getting lung cancer.

Generally, it’s impossible to get radon levels below 2 pCi/L as the national average radon level in the outdoor air is 1.3 pc/L. But, if your home is testing 2 pCi/L or higher, it’s time to look into options for radon mitigation.

Has Your Home Been Tested?

Has your home ever been tested that you know of? Radon testing is mandated by Florida laws in public buildings, but not every home may have been tested. About 20% of Florida homes are believed to have radon levels exceeding 4 pCi/L. If you’re unsure or know your home hasn’t, request your free Florida radon testing kit online or by calling 800-543-8279.

HVAC Systems Play an Important Role in Radon Mitigation

Studies find that the use of central AC can lower radon levels within a home. In this study shared by the NIH, mean radon levels went from 0.61 to 0.49 when the central AC ran. If you have levels that aren’t on the high end, a new central AC system is an effective tool for releasing radon. It’s beneficial for several reasons.


Radon is a gas, so filters won’t get rid of it. But, that doesn’t mean your air filters are useless. Any small particles that have radon clinging to them will get trapped by the filter. You want a quality HEPA filter to catch the smallest of particulates, so ask your AC installer what the highest level of filtration is recommended for your system.

You cannot just purchase the highest level of protection you find. Air conditioners rely on airflow to work efficiently and effectively. If the flow rate of the air is too restrictive, your system may not work correctly. Always ask first.


To enter your home, radon gas must be able to enter. When your home is pressurized to prevent air from entering, the positive pressure keeps radon out. That’s one effective way to remove it. 

If you want to use positive pressure, your system has to be properly designed. When a system’s pressure isn’t capable of handling the change in pressure, components can wear out faster. 


Ventilation is very important. Radon decreases when it’s being pumped out into the open air and fresh air is coming into the home. HVAC systems can be set up with continuous ventilation to ensure that the air coming into your home is constant. If you have this system, don’t switch your fans to intermittent as you’ll lose the benefit you’re trying to gain.

Radon Mitigation Isn’t a Guessing Game

Not all radon issues are easily resolved with a new HVAC system. But, an expert in central AC systems can help you determine the best path forward. You might need to also work with a state-certified radon mitigation expert if levels are too high for an HVAC system to help. 

If HVAC can’t help, a soil suction system draws radon from the soil below your home and transfers it through pipes to the air above your home, which puts it well above your home’s windows, doors, and attic vents.

In a home with a crawlspace, which is more common in Florida, submembrane suction is typically used. In some cases, the addition of fans to vent the crawlspace is enough.

Don’t hope for the best with a central AC system. If it’s not enough to lower radon levels, make sure you listen to a radon mitigation professional and take the next step to having safe air within your home. If you can install and use a central AC system to lower radon, take advantage of current incentives from the federal government and FPL.

Always Work With an Expert in Central AC Design and Installation

If you can use your central AC to mitigate radon, you need to make sure the system is designed with the proper ductwork and dedicated exhaust fans. Ductwork needs to be inspected regularly to make sure there are no holes, cracks, or seams starting to separate. You also need to ensure you’re changing the recommended filters regularly.

All Year Cooling is an expert in central AC. We can help you get a system in place that keeps your home cool and comfortable. Plus, we offer duct cleanings and inspections and maintenance as often as you need it. With All Year Cooling‘s help, you’ll be assured it’s working properly.

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