Senior High Radon Monitoring Project Overview

Mr. Beals's Chemistry classes were awarded a $9,000 grant from the Murdock Trust to study radon in the Yellowstone Valley. Through this grant we were able to purchase 3 in-home radon detectors, one RAD7 professional detector and a weather station to mount on the roof of Senior High.

We were awarded this grant because there is very little data on the following topics and you (students) will be conducting authentic scientific research by collecting data to help solve these questions:

Why does Radon matter? 

-Radon is the #2 leading cause of lung cancer. (EPA.gov)

-The Rocky Mountain region of the US (including Montana) has elevated levels of naturally occurring radon.

-Radon is an invisible 'gas' that invades homes by seeping in through cracks in the foundation. But, if high levels are detected it is possible, and relatively inexpensive, to make your home safe.

-Most people know very little about radon, it's concentrations in our community, and the health issues associated with it.

-If people are educated about radon and aware of levels in their home, they can ensure a healthy, radon-safe home.

Map of Radon Distribution in Billings, MT

The following map shows radon levels collected by Honors Chemistry students at Billings Senior High.

Each colored dot shows the general location where radon was tested. To avoid showing address, the dot may not be on the exact house where the data was collected, there is a margin of error in the map to ensure that no actual address are used. 

If you click a point on the map, you can see the date/time and radon levels listed as well as testing location in the home.

Map Legend

Green = 0-2.7 pCi/L

Yellow = 2.8-3.9 pCi/L

Red = 4.0-11.9 pCi/L

Black = more than 12 pCi/L

(pCi/L = pico-curries/Liter)

According to the Environmental Protection Agency:

-0-2.7 is considered ‘safe’, we will color this green. 

-2.8-3.9 is considered ‘acceptable’ but elevated 

-Anything above 4 is considered ‘unsafe' The EPA recommends taking action to remove radon.

-Students decided that any radon level above 12 needed it's own designation because it was significantly higher than those points labeled red. This is not an official EPA designation but students want you to be aware of the increased risks of having radon levels this high in your home.

Student CAPstone Project Instructions

The Senior High Honors Chemistry CAPstone project is outlined below. Students start by learning about Radon, what causes it and why it is harmful. They then learn how to use a radon monitor to collect information about the radon levels in their own home. They then add their data to the map to show the Radon concentration and distrubtion across Billings, MT. Then, the students work in teams to do their own projects relating to radon and then explore ways to have an impact on their community and inform/education the community about radon.

Part 1: Radon at Home

Complete all of the following when it is your time to check out the Radon Monitoring Device-

1. Project information and outline. Includes instruction sheet for taking home the Radon Detector (read for introduction to the project): 


2. Student Data Sheet to be filled out at the end of 48 hours of testing: 


3. Digital Form to be filled out when Radon Detector and paperwork are returned: 


Part 2: Radon Mapping Project

Create a map of Radon Distribution in the Yellowstone Valley at Billings, MT


2016-2023 RADON DISTRIBUTION MAP (created by students using student data)

Part 3: Radon Distribution and Data Analysis

Analysis of the Map and Data


Part 4: Radon CAPstone

All CAPStone Information can be found at: