In 1997, Brian Koepf represented 6000 members of the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI), when he served on President Clinton’s task force to privatize the supervision of the radon industry.
Radon Testing for Real Estate Transactions
For a real estate transaction, the test should be performed by a disinterested third party. Over a period of days, the device is left in the lowest level of the home which is normally occupied. This eliminates crawl spaces under the house, but includes finished or unfinished basements. The results are analyzed by a professional.
If you are buying or selling a home, radon can be a significant issue. Buyers should be aware of the radon risk in their area and determine whether a radon test is desirable. When in doubt, the EPA always recommends testing. The cost of the test can be built into the house price. If test results already exist, make sure they are recent or that the home has not been significantly renovated since the test was performed. If in doubt, get a new test done. If you are selling a home, having a recent radon test is a great idea. By being proactive, you can assure potential buyers that there is no risk and avoid the issue from the start. There are cracks in the foundation--nothing structural. Nothing that is going to threaten the stability of the home, but they are there. An invisible threat seeps through nooks, crannies and holes. Colorless, odorless and undetectable by the average human, radon gas is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States.
Where Does Radon Gas Come From?
Radon gas -- even the name sounds ominous, evoking images of radiation and nuclear devastation -- is created when uranium in the soil decays. The gas then seeps through any access point into a home. Common entry points are cracks in the foundation, poorly sealed pipes, drainage, or any other loose point. Once in the home, the gas can collect in certain areas, especially basements and other low-lying, closed areas, and build up over time to dangerous levels. The Environmental Protection Agency of the US Government has set a threshold of less than 4 pico curies per liter as the safe level, and lowering the acceptable threshold is under review. As humans are exposed to the gas over a period of years, it can have a significant and detrimental effect.
How Widespread is the Problem?
Radon has been found in homes in all 50 states. Certain areas are more susceptible than others, but no location is immune. Concentrations of radon-causing materials in the soil can be either natural or man-made. Homes built near historic mining operations may be at higher risk. The only way to tell for sure is to have a home tested.
If elevated concentrations of radon are found in your home, then a licensed radon remediation contractor should be consulted. The remediation contractor will limit the amount of radon getting into the home by sealing the access points and installing a radon mitigation system that typically costs $900 for a basement, to $2500 for a basement and crawlspace. So whether you have an old home or a new one, live in an old mining town or in the middle of the Great Plains, radon is a reality. But, it is a reality that we can live with. Proper testing and mitigation can eliminate radon as a health threat.