Chances are, if you’ve bought a house from me recently, you’ve heard me discussing having the house tested to make sure that the home does not have high radon limits. This article is intended to give you a brief introduction to the issue. You should seek to verify this information with appropriate radon contractors and/or your doctor.
What is radon? According to wikipedia, radon is a radioactive, colorless, odorless, tasteless noble gas, occuring naturally as an indirect decay product of uranium or thorium. Since it is radioactive, it is a carcinogen – radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States. Your chances of dying from lung cancer increase significantly if you have ever smoked or been exposed to second hand smoke.
The important thing to note about this is that you cannot smell or see it. There is no way to know it is there without having a test performed.
Many people mistakenly assume that radon comes from sewer pipes, or only occur in homes with basements. From my understanding of speaking with various contractors and inspectors, radon occurs naturally underneath your home, regardless if you have a basement or crawlspace. It is particularly high in areas that have a lot of rock in the soil. The age of the home has no bearing on whether or not there is radon exposure. I’m sure you’re all wondering how common or how risky radon truly is. You should read the statistics on the EPA’s website. However, what I can say from personal experience is that I have heard of people dying in this area from lung cancer who had high radon levels in their home, and in the last year, when clients of mine have tested their houses, approximately 20% of the homes tested had moderately high radon levels.
When you are involved in a real estate transaction, you have the option of performing a radon test. These tests usually take 48 hours, and usually cost under $200 depending on your location.
If the radon test is high, don’t despair. You CAN fix the home. Radon fixes are relatively inexpensive compared to other fixes. I’ve seen bids that range in the $1,500 – $3,000k range, of course, this depends on the size of the home and the configuration of the crawlspace.
If you opted out of performing a radon test during your transaction, or if you are curious to know the radon levels in your home, I would urge you to test the home yourself. The EPA states that you can pick up a radon test kit from hardware stores. These tests take longer to perform but are worth it to find out if you are at risk. Cancer sucks.
For more information, please visit the EPA’s website or ask your doctor. And if you need a recommendation to a radon remediation contractor please feel free to contact me.