Studies by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have found that among annual deaths due to lung cancer, almost 20,000 of them are connected to the airborne form of radiation known as radon. Radon, a gas caused by decaying uranium in the soil which is both invisible and odorless, is found in almost every state. Radon is present in the soil, and enters houses through cracks and other breaches in a house’s foundation. Long-term exposure to these high levels of radon can, over time, contribute to lung cancer. This effect is compounded in smokers.
If a house is found to have radon levels at or above 4 pCi/L, homeowners should contact a radon mitigation contractor to correct the problem. Fixing high radon levels doesn’t require major home remodeling, but a mitigation system is installed.
Testing should be done annually, as well as when moving into a new residence. Those selling a house are encouraged to inform potential buyers of the house’s radon levels, or to test and address the problem themselves before closing. Radon won’t dissipate on its own and should be reduced in order to prevent health risks in the future. Homeowners with wells or other private supplies of groundwater should be aware that radon can move from soil to water, and consider testing it alongside their houses.
While no level of radon gas is completely safe, as with most things in life we must balance the benefits and costs to find our own “acceptable” levels. We walk outside and work in the sun, exposing ourselves to ultraviolet radiation and increasing our risk of developing skin cancer. We drive in automobiles almost every day even though greater than 1 in 86 deaths is a result of automobile accidents. People smoke, eat poorly, and engage in dangerous behaviors on a daily basis. To some degree, radon gas is another daily risk that we all must take. However, you choose what you eat, whether or not you smoke, and how and when you drive. You have no choice but to breathe the air in your home.
Contact Tracker Home Inspection & Consulting LLC for your Radon Testing & Mitigation.
Checklist for Inspecting Radon Mitigation Systems in Residential Homes
Home Buyer’s and Seller’s Guide to Radon
The EPA recommends:
•If you are buying a home or selling your home, have it tested for radon.
•For a new home, ask if radon-resistant construction features were used and if the home has been tested.
•Fix the home if the radon level is 4 picoCuries per liter (pCi/L) or higher.
•Radon levels less than 4 pCi/L still pose a risk, and in many cases, may be reduced.
•Take steps to prevent device interference when conducting a radon test.
The EPA estimates that radon causes thousands of cancer deaths in the U.S. each year.
* Radon is estimated to cause about 21,000 lung cancer deaths per year.
The numbers of deaths from other causes are taken from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s 1999-2001 National Center for Injury Prevention and Control Report and 2002 National Safety Council Reports.
Radon is a cancer-causing, radioactive gas.
You cannot see, smell or taste radon. But it still may be a problem in your home. When you breathe air containing radon, you increase your risk of getting lung cancer. In fact, the Surgeon General of the United States has warned that radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States today. If you smoke and your home has high radon levels, your risk of lung cancer is especially high.
You should test for radon.
Testing is the only way to find out your home’s radon levels. The EPA and the Surgeon General recommend testing all homes below the third floor for radon.
You can fix a radon problem.
If you find that you have high radon levels, there are ways to fix a radon problem. Even very high levels can be reduced to acceptable levels.
If You Are Selling a Home…
The EPA recommends that you test your home before putting it on the market and, if necessary, lower your radon levels. Save the test results and all information you have about steps that were taken to fix any problems. This could be a positive selling point.
If You Are Buying a Home…
The EPA recommends that you know what the indoor radon level is in any home you are considering buying. Ask the seller for their radon test results. If the home has a radon-reduction system, ask the seller for information they have about the system.
If the home has not yet been tested, you should have the house tested.
If you are having a new home built, there are features that can be incorporated into your home during construction to reduce radon levels.
These radon testing guidelines have been developed specifically to deal with the time-sensitive nature of home purchases and sales, and the potential for radon device interference. These guidelines are slightly different from the guidelines in other EPA publications which provide radon testing and reduction information for non-real estate situations.
This guide recommends three short-term testing options for real estate transactions. The EPA also recommends testing a home in the lowest level which is currently suitable for occupancy, since a buyer may choose to live in a lower area of the home than that used by the seller.