Radon Testing Crucial for Peace of Mind

By Keith Loria

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, nearly 1 out of every 15 homes in the U.S. is estimated to have elevated levels of radon. The colorless, odorless and tasteless gas is estimated to cause thousands of deaths each year, making it crucial that you take the time to get your dream home tested for radon before you sign on the dotted line.

While you can’t see, smell or taste radon, exposure to the gas can cause lung cancer. In fact, the Surgeon General has warned that radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States today after smoking.

Radon comes from the natural (radioactive) breakdown of uranium in soil, rock and water and can sneak into the air you breathe by penetrating the structure through cracks in the foundation. The gas can be discovered in all parts of the country and can cause a dangerously high indoor radon level in any home.

While it’s not a requirement that you test for radon when you make an offer to buy a home in many places, it’s probably a good idea to ask for a Radon Inspection Contingency.

A Radon Inspection Contingency can put some structure into getting a “short-term” radon test done on any home to make sure the levels of radon on the lowest level of the home are below the 4.0 pCi/L level.

This target level was set by the U.S. Congress for indoor air quality, and the U.S. EPA enforces that mandate.

Buyers interested in purchasing a home shouldn’t be the only ones concerned with radon testing. In fact, if you’re getting ready to sell your home, you should test for radon before you put the home on the market. This can save valuable time during a real estate transaction, as long as you have all the paperwork and testing data to show the prospective buyer.

The quickest way to test for radon is with short-term tests, which remain in your home for two to 90 days, depending on the device. The most common detectors are charcoal canisters, alpha track, electret ion chamber, continuous monitors and charcoal liquid scintillation.

When performing a radon test, be sure to test the lowest level of the home that you currently live in, or a lower level not currently used, but which a buyer could use for living space without making renovations. The result of the radon test will provide important information about your home’s radon level that potential buyers may want to know.

If you find that your home has high levels of radon, reducing the radon level is an easy process. Adding a radon reduction system can reduce radon levels in your home by up to 99 percent, and the system costs less than $1,000 to buy and install.

Another option is to install a Soil Suction Radon Reduction System in the basement near a sump pump system so that it can be vented outside where a pressure fan is installed.

New homes can be built with radon resistant features that minimize radon entry and allow for easier radon reduction if high levels should be determined to exist. These features cost much less to install during the construction process rather than waiting to add to an existing home later. Some municipalities and states are even considering adopting radon resistant construction features as a part of their building codes.

Buyers and sellers should both be smart about radon. Every new home should be tested after occupancy, even if it was built with radon-resistant features or has a radon reducing system installed.

To learn more about radon testing, contact our office today.