When purchasing a home you will be asked what inspections you wish to have done. Among these optional inspections is a radon inspection. Do you fully understand what radon is and how harmful it can be?
- What is radon?
Radon is a naturally occurring gas caused by the decaying of uranium in the earth. It cannot be seen, smelled, or tasted though trace amounts can be found all over the globe.
- How dangerous is it?
Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States according to the EPA. It is estimated that radon is the cause for 15,000 to 22,000 deaths per year. For smokers, the risk of lung cancer after long term radon exposure is increased by 9 times.
- How much radon is too much?
The EPA considers radon levels below 4 picocuries per liter (pCi/L) acceptable. The World Health Organization considers levels below 2.7 pCi/L acceptable. Most people choose to take action to mitigate radon levels at 2 pCi/L. Keep in mind that radon levels can fluctuate throughout the year so testing a few times may be beneficial.
- How do you test for radon?
There are 2 ways to test for radon; digital or chemical. The most common is digital testing. You can buy DIY testing kits or hire a professional company to come test the property. DIY digital tests require a power source and can give instant results at any time. Another option is to purchase a chemical testing kit and place the kit in the home for a predetermined time period. Once this timeframe is up, you seal the test and send it to a company for testing.
- How do you mitigate radon?
There are several techniques for mitigating radon. Step one is typically to seal any cracks or gaps in the foundation of the home. Cracks in concrete slabs, basement floors or basement walls must be sealed with a good concrete repair caulk to reduce the seepage of gas into the home. If the home has a sump crock, it will need to be sealed and vented outside.
While radon is everywhere, it is easy to test for and mitigate if necessary. Keep this in the back of your mind when purchasing a new home but remember not to let it stress you out during an already stressful time.