GSA, Public Buildings Service (PBS), minimizes radon exposure to building occupants by implementing radon programs in its buildings.
Radon is radioactive gas. Radon cannot be seen, and it cannot be smelled or tasted. Radon comes from the natural (radioactive) breakdown of uranium in soil, rock and water and gets into the air you breathe. Radon can be found in any type of building, home, office, and school.
Potential sources of radon are the earth and rock beneath homes, drinking water and building materials. Radon gas seeps into buildings or homes located near or on soil containing uranium ores. The gas travels through the soil and enters at lower building levels through cracks and holes in the foundation, walls, drains, or sump pump openings.
Exposure to radon causes cancer. Some people who are exposed to radon in drinking water could potentially have an increased risk of getting cancer over the course of their lifetime, especially lung cancer. Radon in soil under homes and buildings is the biggest source of radon in indoor air.
There are no federal regulations for radon specific to the working environment. EPA has developed guidelines for private residences and recommends that mitigation actions be taken to reduce radon levels in indoor air to below 4 pCi/L and water levels to below 500 pCi/L. GSA has adopted these guidelines for use in federal buildings.
GSA takes the following actions to minimize radon exposure to its occupants:
- Tests for radon in drinking water and in indoor air according to EPA's guidelines;
- Mitigates and retests drinking water and indoor air if action levels are exceeded;
- Provides alternate water supply and air source when action levels are exceeded; and
- Notifies occupants of testing results.
GSA's radon program is ongoing since new sites are continually added to the agency's inventory.