What is Radon?
Radon comes from the natural breakdown of uranium in soil, rock and water. The release of this radioactive gas enters the air you breathe, causing a potential health risk to you and your family. Radon gas can be found in just about anywhere. It can get into any type of building -- homes, offices, and schools -- and build up to high levels.
What You Should Know About Radon
Radon is a cancer causing radioactive gas. You cannot see radon and you cannot smell it or taste it, but it may be a problem in your home. This is because when you breathe air-containing radon, you increase your risk of getting lung cancer. In fact, the Surgeon General has warned that radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer. You should test for radon. Testing is the only way to find out about your home's radon level. The EPA and the Surgeon General recommend testing of all homes below the third floor for radon. You can fix a radon problem. If you find that you have high radon levels, there are ways to fix a radon problem. Even very high levels can be reduced to acceptable levels. If you are buying a home. EPA recommends that you obtain the radon level in the home you are considering buying. An EPA publication "The Home Buyer's and Seller's Guide" is available through most State Health Departments or Regional EPA offices listed in your local phone book. EPA also recommends that you use a certified or state licensed radon tester to perform the test. If elevated levels are found it is recommended that these levels be reduced. In most cases, a professional can accomplish this at reasonable cost or homeowner installed mitigation system that adheres to the EPA's approved methods for reduction of radon in a residential structure.
What are the Risk Factors?
The EPA, Surgeon General and The Center for Disease Control, have all agreed that continued exposure to Radon gas can cause lung cancer. In fact, their position on the matter is that all homes should be tested for radon gas exposure, and all homes testing over 4.0 pCi/L should be fixed.
How Does Radon Enter the Home?
Typically the air pressure inside your home is lower than the pressure in the soil around your home's foundation. Due to this difference, your house acts like a vacuum, drawing radon gas in through foundation cracks and other openings of your home. Radon may also be present in well water and can be released into the air in your home when water is used for showering and other household uses.
Interpretation of Initial Survey Results
If your radon level is below 4.0 pCi/l, you need to take no action!
If your radon level is 4.0 or greater, according to the US EPA guidelines for a Real Estate Transaction you should fix the home. Time permitting, a long term test (more than 90 days) can be used to confirm the initial short term test. The US EPA recommends the use of an EPA or State approved contractor to fix high levels of radon. You can call the State of Ohio radon office to obtain information, including their list of licensed contractors at: 1-800-523-4439
Potential Entry Points
Cavities inside walls
Cracks in solid floors
Cracks in walls
The water supply
Gaps in suspended floors
What Should I Do if the Radon Level is High?
High Radon Levels Can be Reduced ?
EPA recommends that you take action to reduce your home's indoor radon levels if your radon testresult is 4 pCi/L or higher. It is better to correct aradon problem before placing your home on themarket because then you have more time to addressa radon problem. If elevated levels are found during the real estatetransaction, the buyer and seller should discuss thetiming and costs of the radon reduction. The cost of making repairs to reduce radon levels depends on how your home was built and other factors. Most homes can be fixed for about the same cost as other common
home repairs, like painting or having a new hot water heater installed. The average cost
for a contractor to lower radon levels in a home can rangefrom $800 to about $2,500.
How To Lower The Radon Level In Your Home?
A variety of methods can be used to reduce radon in homes. Sealing cracks and
other openings in the foundation is a basic part of most approaches to radon reduction.
EPA does not recommend the use of sealing alone to limit radon entry. Sealing alone
has not been shown to lower radon levels significantly or consistently. In most cases,
a system with a vent pipe(s) and fan(s) is used to reduce radon. These "sub-slab
depressurization" systems do not require major changes to your home. Similar
systems can also be installed in homes with crawl space. These systems prevent radon
gas from entering the home from below the concrete floor and from outside the
foundation. Radon mitigation contractors may use other methods that may also work
in your home. The right system depends on the design of your home and other factors.
Techniques for reducing radon are discussed in EPA's "Consumer's Guide to Radon Reduction." As with any other household appliance, there are costs associated with the operation of the radon-reduction system.
Selecting a Radon-Reducation (Mitigation) Contractor
Select a qualified radon-reduction contractor to reduce the radon levels in your home. Any mitigation measures taken or system installed in your home must conform to your state's regulations. In states without regulations covering mitigation, the system should conform to EPA's Radon Mitigation Standards.
EPA recommends that the mitigation contractor review the radon measurement results before beginning and radon-reduction work. Test again after the radon mitigation work has been completed to confirm that previous elevated levels have been reduced. EPA recommends that the test be conducted by an independent qualified radon tester. See www.epa.gov/radon/radontest.html for more information.
What Can a Qualified Radon-Reducation Contractor Do for You?
A qualified radon-reduction (mitigation) contractor should be able to:
Review testing guidelines and measurement results, and deteremine if additional measurements are needed.
Evaluate the radon problem and provide you with a detailed, written proposal on how radon levels will be lowered.
Design a radon-reduction system.
Install the system according to EPA standards, or state or local codes.
Make sure the finished system effectivley reduces radon levels to acceptable levels.
Radon and Home Renovations
If you are planning any major renovations, such as converting an unfinished basement area into living space, it is especially important to test the area for radon before you begin.
If your test results indicate an elevated radon level, radon-resistant techniques can be inexpensively included as part of the renovation. Major renovations can change the level of radon in any home. Test again after the work is completed.
You should also test your home again after it is fixed to be sure that radon levels have been reduced. If your living patterns change and you begin occupying a lower level of your home (such as a basement) you should retest your home on that level. In addition, it is a good idea to retest your home sometime in the future to be sure radon levels remain low.
Choose a radon mitigation contractor to fix your radon problem just as you would for any other home repair. You may want to get more than one estimate, ask for and check their references. Make sure the person you hire is qualified to install a mitigation system. Some states regulate or certify radon mitigation services providers.
Be aware that a potential conflict of interest exists if the same person or firm performs the testing and installs the mitigation system. Some states may require the homeowner to sign a waiver in such cases. If the same person or firm does the testing and mitigation, make sure the testing is done in accordance with the Radon Testing Checklist. Contact your state radon office for more information.