Radon Gas. It’s the second leading cause of lung cancer in the U.S. and costs us $2 billion in health care per year. If you’re not familiar with radon, you owe it to yourself and your family to do a few minutes of research.
Radon gas is colorless and odorless. It 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 4 pico curies per liter as the safe level. 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 (http://www.epa.gov/radon/zonemap.html), 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 high concentrations of radon are found in your home it can be easily corrected by a certified radon mitigator. Average cost usually run between $1,200 to $2,000 for an average size house. You can usually obtain a free estimate from a radon mitigation company.
If you’re buying a home, radon can be a significant issue. Buyers should be aware of the radon risk in their area. A radon test is always desirable and is the only way to determine radon levels as these can vary between houses that are side by side and even between adjacent condominium units within the same building. When in doubt, the EPA always recommends testing.
If you’re 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.