Radon Testing

What is radon?

Simply put, Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas that that perks up out of the ground. It is invisible and has no smell or taste. The gas, if trapped in your home, in a high enough concentration can cause Lung Cancer. According to testing completed in 1999 by the EPA and the American Lung Association radon gas in a home is the number one leading cause of Lung Cancer in the United States among non-smokers.

Should I test for Radon in my home?

Yes. Whether buying a new or existing home and in any part of the Metro area, testing is recommended. All homes have the potential to have dangerous levels of radon present including new construction. However the only way to truly know the Radon concentration in your home is to have it professionally tested.

I’ve tested my home. Now What?

Once you home has been tested you have a few options depending on what the concentration level is. If your concentration is measured at less than 2.0 pCi/L then you are relatively safe and should retest your home based on the recommendations of the EPA. If your home has a level that is between 2-4 pCi/L then the EPA recommends that you consider “Fixing your Home”. If your results are 4.0 pCi/L or higher, the EPA recommends that you “Fix Your Home”. The fix recommended by the EPA is typically the installation of a Radon Mitigation System. These systems and pricing for them can vary depending primarily on how the radon is entering the home in the first place. Almost all homes can have their Radon concentrations lowered to levels close to those of outside air.   Special Note: There are several sources of information available regarding Radon, its effects and the methods by which to mitigate. The only source we recommend is the EPA publication: EPA 402/k-09/002 Home Buyer’s and Seller’s Guide To Radon
FACT: Although some scientists dispute the precise number of deaths due to radon, all the major health organizations (like the Centers for Disease Control, the American Lung Association, and the American Medical Association) agree with estimates that radon causes thousands of preventable lung cancer deaths every year. This is especially true among smokers, since the risk to smokers is much greater than to non-smokers.
FACT: Reliable radon tests are available from qualified radon testers and companies. Active radon devices can continuously gather and periodically record radon levels to reveal any unusual swings in the radon level during the test. Reliable testing devices are also available by phone or mail-order, and can be purchased in hardware stores and other retail outlets. Call your state radon office for a list of qualified radon test companies.
FACT: Radon testing is easy. You can test your home yourself or hire a qualified radon test company. Either approach takes only a small amount of time and effort.
FACT: There are solutions to radon problems in homes. Thousands of homeowners have already lowered their radon levels. Most homes can be fixed for about the same cost as other common home repairs. Call your state radon office for a list of qualified mitigation contractors.
FACT: Radon can be a problem in all types of homes, including old homes, new homes, drafty homes, insulated homes, homes with basements, and homes without basements. Local geology, construction materials, and how the home was built are among the factors that can affect radon levels in homes.
FACT: High radon levels have been found in every state. Radon problems do vary from area to area, but the only way to know a home’s radon level is to test.
FACT: It is not. Radon levels vary from home to home. The only way to know if your home has a radon problem is to test it.
FACT: While radon gets into some homes through the water, it is important to first test the air in the home for radon. If your water comes from a public water system that uses ground water, call your water supplier. If high radon levels are found and the home has a private well, call the Safe Drinking Water Hotline at (800) 426-4791 for information on testing your water. Also, call your state radon office for more information about radon in air.
FACT: Where radon problems have been fixed, home sales have not been blocked. The added protection will be a good selling point.
FACT: You will reduce your risk of lung cancer when you reduce radon levels, even if you have lived with an elevated radon level for a long time.
FACT: Short-term tests can be used to decide whether to reduce the home’s high radon levels. However, the closer the short-term testing result is to 4 pCi/L, the less certainty there is about whether the home’s year-round average is above or below that level. Keep in mind that radon levels below 4 pCi/L still pose some risk and that radon levels can be reduced to 2 pCi/L or below in most homes.

* Information for Fact and Myth was provided by the EPA, in the January 2009 edition of Home Buyer’s and Seller’s guide to Radon. For more information on the EPA and Radon visit epa.gov/radon