You don’t have to be a chemistry major to know that the presence of Radon gas in your home is no laughing matter. Radon is a colorless, inert radioactive gas that is slowly released during the breakdown, or natural decay, of uranium in the ground. This gas moves freely though soil, rock and water. Because it is the heaviest gas in nature, high levels of radon can accumulate in basements or generally poorly ventilated areas of a home or building.
How Dangerous is Radon Gas?
As radon decays, it continues to break down forming other radioactive elements in the process. These elements, when inhaled into the lungs, damage the cells that line the lungs causing lung cancer. Radon exposure has been linked to 16 percent of lung cancer deaths and is the second leading cause of lung cancer after smoking.
How Much Radon Is Too Much?
Be aware that radon levels can vary over time and especially from season to season. With this in mind, it’s a good idea to conduct any radon testing over a duration of a few months, or even longer, to determine actual radon levels and to confirm if any remedial action is necessary. Since it’s such an important matter to get right, make sure to contact a certified radon inspector to perform testing on your home.
So – how much radon is too much? In the U.S. Radon is measured in picocuries per liter of air (pCi/L). The current guideline for remediation is any level higher than 4 pCi/L. In general, the basic rule of thumb is: The higher the number, the higher the risk. Consider that the current action level is equivalent to the radiation exposure of 30 medical chest x-rays per year. When you consider exposure in a home setting is 12 or more hours per day, you can see the seriousness of any long-term exposure.
Studies have shown that as much as 40% pf buildings in high-risk areas exceed EPA guidelines when tested. For information on the prevalence of radon in your area, check out the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) website. They have a radon zone map you can cross-reference to learn if your area is considered high-risk. The only way to really know if radon is present in your home, is to perform a test. Even if your home is in an area considered low-risk, it’s wise to conduct a test to be sure.
Short Term and Long Term Tests
What if your scenario includes buying a new home? Or perhaps selling one? In either case, a long-term radon test is pretty unrealistic as no one wants to wait three months to get their answer. The next best option is to have a short-term test performed. This radon test lasts between 48 to 72 hours and should be administered by a certified radon inspector who has been specifically trained to an industry-recognized standard of practice and are held accountable for working to established radon testing guidelines. Some home inspectors are also certified as a radon testers, and as such, could perform the test for you. If not, he/she may be able to recommend a professional to conduct the test for you. Before purchasing a new home, it only makes sense to determine if any radon is present, as this could be a game changer during your negotiations.
If you’re concerned about radon in your present home, or you’re in the process of buying a new one, talk to a certified radon inspector like A Better Inspector to learn more about radon testing and the remedial process if radon is discovered.
Not all home inspectors are created equal. A Better Inspector has sellers, homeowners, and realtors who use them time and time again so they have the most accurate information possible before they buy or sell a property.
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About A Better Home Inspector
A Better Inspector provides the most extensive property inspections in the Northern Kentucky / Cincinnati area! Since 2000, we have been educating our customers about the properties they own or may want to purchase.
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