Starting July 1, 2021, The City of Iowa City will begin working with property owners and managers to verify all single family detached and duplex rental properties are tested for hazardous radon levels as a step towards improved public health.

Radon is the No. 1 cause of lung cancer among non-smokers. It is a naturally occurring radioactive gas produced from the decay of radium in the soil. It is odorless, tasteless, and typically moves through cracks and other openings in the foundation of a structure. 

The average indoor radon concentration in Iowa is more than six times the national average. Blue Cross/Blue Shield estimates that 400 deaths per-year in Iowa are caused by radon-induced lung cancer, approximately the same number of Iowans who die in traffic accidents each year.

It will take two years to complete the inspection cycle for all single family detached and duplex rental properties in Iowa City. After July 1, 2021, all single family detached and duplex units that become rentals will need to come into compliance with the regulation, as part of the rental inspection process.

To ensure valid testing and confidence in the results, radon testing for these properties will be required to be done by a State licensed, third-party inspector.

Rental properties showing a radon hazard at or above the federal EPA hazard exposure level of 4 pCi/L (picocuries per liter) will be required to conduct radon mitigation. Radon mitigation systems for rental units in Iowa City will be required to be installed by a Radon Mitigation Specialist certified by the State of Iowa.

Most rental units will be required to retest for hazardous radon levels every eight years, to ensure continued functionality of the system. Units with bedrooms in the basement will be required to retest these levels every four years.

While not required by the Iowa Housing Code, owner occupied properties are also encouraged to have their properties checked to eliminate exposure to hazardous radon levels.

Note: This process was set to begin July 1, 2020, but was delayed one year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.