Although it may not be an issue in all states, residential radon testing services are a required part of getting a loan when you are buying or selling any home in many places across America. By definition radon is a radioactive chemical element that is tasteless, odorless, and colorless. One of the noble gases, it occurs in nature as a decaying product of radium. In many states a home cannot be bought or sold unless it passes a required radon test. Hidden in underground basements, especially basements that are not walk outs, elevated radon levels have to be eliminated or decreased through processes called radon abatement and mitigation.
Did the House You Are Selling Fail a Required Radon Test?
Most of the same residential radon testing services that report on a home’s radon levels are also the companies that offer radon mitigation services. Though they can be somewhat expensive, they are an unavoidable part of purchasing a home in many states. Some of the states with the highest radon levels include:
- North Carolina
- North Dakota
- Rhode Island
- South Dakota
- West Virginia
Although these are not the only states that need residential radon testing services, they are the states that often record the highest levels. In fact, all of these states have levels above 4.0 picocuries per liter (pCi/L). To put this in perspective, a family home that has radon levels of 4 pCi/l exposes family members to approximately 35 times as much radiation as the Nuclear Regulatory Commission would allow if that same family were standing next to the fence of a radioactive waste site.
Testing for this dangerous gas is done in two different ways. In one method, a short-term detector measures radon levels for a period of time that can extend from two days to 90 days, depending on the device. The second method, a long-term device tests the average concentration for more than 90 days.
Because radiation comes from the ground the problem is far more prevalent in homes that have basements. This accounts for the fact that the states that typically report the highest radon levels are in the northern part of the country. Southern states do not have as many homes with basements. In homes with basements, many of the radon problems come from the sump pump. For this reason, radon mitigation services often focus on caping the sump pump when possible.
What Makes Radon So Dangerous?
The biggest danger of having elevated radon levels in a home is that there are studies that show a correlation between radon exposure and some types of cancer. In fact, the Surgeon General has released warnings that indicate that radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in America today. EPA studies backed up by the Surgeon General’s Office have estimated that as many as 20,000 lung cancer deaths a year are caused by radon.
Understanding the cancer connection and realizing that nearly one in 15 U.S. homes is estimated to have radon levels at or above the EPA action level, it makes sense that home owners should have their homes tested. Instead of waiting until a loan approval on a house sale requires a radon test, home owners should consider testing their home once every two to three years. It does not really make sense to test for these dangerous levels for the next family that might be moving in and completely ignore the safety of your family that lives in that house now.
Current scientific research indicates that lung cancer deaths could be reduced by 2% to 4%, or about 5,000 deaths, by using mitigating or abatement services to lower the radon levels in homes that exceed the EPA?s action level. Home owners do many things to keep themselves and their families safe. They avoid cigarette smoke in the home. They have carbon monoxide detectors to alert families if there is a leak of this dangerous gas. They have fire alarms and security systems. With all of these current safety precautions it simply makes sense that radon testing should become part of a family’s safety precautions. Radon is colorless, odorless, and tasteless, and requires a residential radon testing service test to make sure the dangerous gas is not present.