January is radon awareness month. Radon is a cancer-causing gas that is created during the decay process of uranium. Since almost all rock contains some level of uranium, radon gas can exist almost any where and is common in the air we breathe. Outside air contains exceptionally low levels of radon and does not affect our health. Radon becomes an issue when it begins to accumulate at high levels inside your home.
Winter is a great time to have your home tested since radon levels can be significantly higher in the winter. With the ground around your home frozen, the path of least resistance for the radon gas may be the foundation of your home. Radon can sneak in through any small cracks that may exist in the floor or walls of your basement. Winter is also a great time to test since the house will need to be closed for 60 hours, 12 hours prior and 48 hours during the test. No doors or windows can be opened for an extended period during that time.
Radon levels can also be significantly affected by the weather. As low-pressure systems work through the area, the radon can pull pulled up into your home at greater volumes. The continuous radon monitors that Home Scan Inspections uses will provide data that shows the average radon level in your home for each hour that the test was run. With that data, you can correlate increases in radon to the weather systems that may have come through. Tests done with charcoal canisters will only provide one number (the overall average) and will not show the variation that exists. That variation can be significant.
In today’s real estate market, many buyers are not testing for radon prior to purchase for fear of losing the house. Last year, I tested a home that a friend recently purchased. The seller did not allow the radon test to be done and the buyer had already looked at dozens of homes and did not want to lose out on this opportunity. The test came back at 120 pCI/L (EPA recommends mitigation at 2 to 4 pCI/L) which is 30 times higher than the maximum level recommended by the EPA. I would have wanted to know that number BEFORE I purchased the home.
Luckily, my friend hired a reputable mitigator that guaranteed they could get the radon levels down to an acceptable level, not everyone they contacted were as confident. In the end, the mitigator had to install two complete systems to get the radon levels where they needed to be. The cost to the homeowner was still less than $2,000.
Not everyone buys in to the fact that high radon levels in your home can cause cancer, and who really knows what a “safe” level of radon is? The EPA has their recommendation that seems reasonable by the current science. Outdoor levels can vary significantly but rarely get close to 4.0 pCI/L. It only seems reasonable that a radon level of 120 pCI/L is an issue when it is 30 times higher than what exists in the normal everyday air we breathe. Also, considering the low cost of mitigation (typically around $1,500) it seems like testing and mitigation is a simple and low-cost way to reduce the chances of your family having any potential health issues. My own home tested at about 40 pCI/L and I sleep much better at night knowing my family is safer after having mitigated the issue.
Visit the Radon page on our website for more information, https://www.homescaninspectionsllc.com/Why-Do-I-Need-To-Do-Radon-Testing
Give us a call if you have anymore questions or would like us to come out and test your home.