General Radon Information

New Mexico specific radon and radon level information can be found throughout this site. You will be able to find information about certified radon inspectors in New Mexico, as well as detailed radon level information for every county in New Mexico.

Radon is a radioactive gas. You canít see, smell, or taste radon. It comes from the decay of radium and exists in varying amounts in most soils. High radon concentrations can be found in soils and rocks containing uranium, granite, shale, phosphate, and pitchblende. Because radon is a gas, it can move through soil and into a home. In outdoor air, radon is diluted to relatively harmless low concentrations. However, once trapped inside an enclosed space, radon can accumulate. Indoor radon levels depend upon the concentration of radon in the soil, the number of available paths into the building, and the strength of forces drawing radon into the building. Levels can vary greatly in the same town, on the same street, and from house to house.

U.S. Surgeon General Richard H. Carmona has warned the American public about the risks of breathing indoor radon by issuing a national health advisory in January 2005. "Indoor radon is the second-leading cause of lung cancer in the United States and breathing it over prolonged periods can present a significant health risk to families all over the county," Dr. Carmona said. "It's important to know that this threat is completely preventable. Radon can be detected with a simple test and fixed through well-established venting techniques."

Millions of homes and buildings contain high levels of radon gas. Many do not even know it is present. When radon decays and is inhaled into the lungs, it releases energy that can damage the DNA in sensitive lung tissue and lead to lung cancer. In fact, prolonged exposure to high levels of radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States, contributing to between 7,000 and 30,000 lung cancer deaths each year. Smokers are at higher risk of developing radon-induced lung cancer.

Nearly 1 out of 15 homes in the US is estimated to have elevated radon levels. In New Mexico, the north central part of the state including Bernalillo and Santa Fe Counties are considered high risk areas. Up to 30% of homes tested in Albuquerque and 40% in Santa Fe have shown radon levels which exceed the EPA recommended norms.

All houses can have radon; even those in areas of low radon potential can have elevated radon levels. The probability of finding radon in your home is less in low radon potential areas; however, radon levels can differ dramatically from one home to the next. The only way to know if you have radon is to test your home.

How does radon enter your house? Air pressure inside your home is usually lower than pressure in the soil around and under your home. Because the pressure is lower inside, radon is sucked into your house through cracks or holes in the slab or foundation. If you have elevated radon levels you can fix your home. If you are building a house in an area of moderate or high radon potential we recommend using radon resistant building techniques.

The radon in your water supply poses an inhalation risk and a small ingestion risk. Most of your risk from radon in water comes from radon released into the air when water is used for showering and other household purposes. Research has shown that your risk of lung cancer from breathing radon in air is much larger than your risk of stomach cancer from swallowing water with radon on it.

Radon in your home's water is not usually a problem when its source is surface water. A radon in water problem is more likely when its source is ground water, e.g., a private well or a public water supply system that uses ground water. Some public water systems treat their water to reduce radon levels before it is delivered to your home. If you are concerned that radon may be entering your home through the water and your water comes from a public water supply, contact your water supplier.

Due to the nature of the health hazard (radiological) posed to the public by exposure to elevated indoor radon, and the type of the services provided by radon service providers Part 2 (20.3.2 NMAC) of the New Mexico Radiation Protection Regulations (20.3 NMAC) requires such persons to register with the New Mexico Environment Department (NMED) as radiological service providers. The purpose of these regulations is to ensure that service providers possess adequate qualifications to safely furnish these services.