Radon and Home Inspections – What You Need to Know
– Make sure to cover all your bases
By Ed Buckley
Bethlehem PA – August 14, 2006. You’re buying your new dream home. You think you have your bases covered with your mortgage lender, movers, and a home inspection. You’ve checked out the neighborhood and schools. Wait a minute…home inspection…does the inspector inspect everything?... including the risk of high levels of deadly radon gas? You think so, but now you’re not sure. You may have heard recent news stories about the link between radon and lung cancer, and probably know that it’s something to be concerned about. You certainly want to know if you’ll be putting you and your family at risk in a home with a high level of radon.
What do you do? Call the inspector and make sure they perform a radon test. If it comes out high – that doesn’t mean you don’t buy the house, it just means that you have some bargaining power with the seller to get the problem fixed before it becomes your problem.
Most likely, the home inspector will use a Continuous Radon Monitor (CRM). This is a special machine designed to give you an accurate radon reading in just two days. Many CRMs have tamper resistant features to help ensure an accurate and reliable reading. CRMs give you a valid assessment of the radon level during the time of the test. You can feel confident in the results.
It is important to remember, however, that radon levels vary at different times of the year, and can change from season-to-season. So, while the level may have been acceptable when the home inspector checked it, it wouldn’t be unusual to find different concentrations a few months later. To give you and your family an added measure of protection after move in, many people use a long-term radon test to supplement the home inspector’s short term test. These long-term tests are simple and easy to use. Further, the EPA recommends that you re-check your radon level at least every 24 months.
Radon is the #1 cause of lung cancer in non-smokers
EPA also tells us that there is no safe level of radon, and that it causes cancer. For more information about radon and its risks, visit the EPA site
How to protect yourself at home
To protect you and your family at home, you clearly need to know what your risk level is.
Be sure get a professional radon test from your home inspector.
The second step is to begin a long-term test of your home. Radon test kits are available from various sources, but long-term kits may be hard to find. There are other confusing choices: the question of how many test kits you need, and where to place them. There is a radon test wizard to help guide people through the process. The wizard has two animated characters, Rae the Radon Receptionist, and Dr. Don the Radon Professor, that lead you step-by-step through 7 questions. Based on your answers, the wizard then matches your home’s configuration to over 800 possible choices. The wizard then suggests the type, quantity, and test location(s) for your specific situation. Whatever approach you use, get your kits and follow the directions on the package.
It is likely that some areas of your home have higher concentrations than others. If your test result is above the EPA action level of 4 Pico curies per liter the EPA recommends having your home fixed.
Fixing your home involves reducing the amount of radon in your home. The best way to fix your home depends on its construction and how the radon is entering it. The good news is that radon reduction, or mitigation systems, are generally straightforward to implement.
In conclusion, you know you’ll be spending a considerable amount of your time in your new home. You also probably know the risks of radon exposure are very real. The key to understanding the severity of this threat is knowing your radon level. And, the only way to know your level, is to test. Don’t wait – test today.