You may be asking “do I need a radon test?” because you find yourself needing to come to a decision in the middle of your real estate transaction, wondering if the added cost is worth it. Or maybe you are a homeowner who is not sure if a radon test is necessary. If in doubt – test. A radon test is relatively inexpensive when considering the risks of being exposed to harmful amounts of radon gas.
The Facts About Radon
Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas and the leading cause of lung cancer among non-smokers. Radon comes from the breakdown of Uranium in the ground and can be found in elevated levels in any home or building. Elevated radon levels have been recorded in both old and newly constructed homes and buildings.
Since you cannot see, taste, or smell radon gas, the only way to know if your home has elevated levels (or not) is to test. Every home or building is at risk for containing elevated concentrations of radon gas.
The Second Leading Cause of Lung Cancer
Radon is responsible for the deaths of more than 21,000 people (about the seating capacity of Madison Square Garden) in the U.S. every year. The number of lung cancer cases among non-smokers continues to rise each year. While efforts to reduce tobacco use as the number one cause of the disease have been effective, there still are additional risk factors for lung cancer that we should be acting against.
Exposure to radon at home can be prevented and reduced with proper radon testing and mitigation. So, if you are asking “Do I need a radon test?”, our advice is: when in doubt, test.
Want to know the average radon test result near you?
Search your zip code below for the average reported radon test result in your area.
Do I Need a Radon Test
Regardless of what situation you find yourself in, if you are questioning whether you need a radon test, it is better to be sure that harmful levels of radon are not present than to not test. There is no price for the peace of mind that comes in knowing your home is healthy and safe.
If you are buying a home
|Scenario||Do you need a radon test?|
|Home seller discloses that the home was never tested for radon.||Test. If the results come back elevated, you can discuss options for installing a radon mitigation system.|
|Home seller discloses that the home was tested for radon and the results came back below the EPA action level of 4.0 pCi/L.||Test. It is not clear how long ago or in what time of year the test was conducted. Radon levels can fluctuate and change with time, weather conditions, and home construction. If the results still come back below the action level, then you can have peace of mind against radon exposure should you move forward with the purchase.|
|Home seller discloses that the home was tested for radon and the results came back above the EPA action level of 4.0 pCi/L.||Test. If the results of the test come back elevated, you may have an opportunity to negotiate an allowance to install a radon mitigation system. Elevated levels can be resolved and should not be a reason to not move forward with the purchase of the home.|
|The home already has a mitigation system installed.||Test. We recommend homes with mitigation systems be tested every 2 years to ensure that the system is continuing to function properly. A faulty mitigation system could be doing more harm than good, and the home may still have elevated levels of radon.|
|The home does not have a mitigation system installed.||Test. If a mitigation system installation is something you are interested in pursuing as a part of your real estate transaction, consider your options for requesting a seller credit to help cover the cost. A mitigation system installed by our team of licensed and certified professionals is an effective way to keep your home safe from radon gas.|
|The home does not have a basement.||Test. Radon can, and has been, found in elevated levels in homes that do not have a basement. The foundation type of your home doesn’t determine the radon potential. Homes built on all foundation types, such as slab on grade and crawlspace, may contain dangerous radon levels.|
|The home is a new construction.||Test. Elevated radon levels have been found in both new and old homes and buildings. New homes may be at greater risk because of how efficiently they are built. Air in the home is cycled out less often, meaning more opportunity for radon to accumulate in higher concentrations.|
If you own your home
|Scenario||Do you need a radon test?|
|You have never tested your home before.||Test. Know your risk of radon exposure at home.|
|You have a mitigation system installed but have never had it serviced and have not conducted any follow up testing in over 2 years.||Test. Like any machine, radon systems can experience wear and can break down or not work as effectively as they once did. It is important to test every few years to ensure your mitigation system is continuing to keep you safe at home.|
|You have only tested your home in the warm summer months.||Test. Radon levels are almost always higher in the cold winter months due to changes in atmospheric pressure. Simply put, your home breathes in more air more quickly in the winter. Any risk of radon exposure is likely to be elevated in the colder season.|
|You have a radon mitigation system installed but have since installed a sump pump or conducted other forms of construction on the home.||Test. If sump pumps are installed after your mitigation system is installed and are not sealed correctly, the sensitive pressure functionality of your mitigation system could be compromised. Not to mention the un-sealed hole in your foundation, which is a perfect avenue for radon to intrude into your home.|
|The home is a new construction.||Test. Elevated radon levels have been found in both new and old homes and buildings. New homes may be at greater risk because of how efficiently they are built. Air in the home is cycled out less often, meaning more opportunity for radon to accumulate and stick around.|
How Radon Testing Works
There are many different options and types of radon tests available, depending on what scenario you find yourself in. There are short-term radon tests, long-term tests, and electronic continuous radon monitor (CRM) tests.
Radon tests are placed at the lowest point of the home or building. Charcoal tests absorb radon gas in the charcoal where it is stored until it can be mailed and processed by a licensed radon testing laboratory. Electronic, or CRM, testing devices are placed, activated, and have an internal mechanism that tracks each time a radon alpha particle hits it. These tests are highly sensitive and record a more detailed account of the radon levels in your home.
Short-Term CRM Tests
These tests are placed for a minimum of 48 hours where they measure the radon in your home and provide a detailed report. There is no mailing required, and the results of your test are immediately available. Using a CRM to test provides the most accurate and precise measurement of the radon levels in your home during the test period. CRM tests can be provided by licensed and certified radon testing professionals. Our team here at Protect Environmental is NRPP certified to conduct radon testing for accurate and detailed results.
Short-term Liquid Scintillation Tests
Testing devices that hang on a wall in your home for about 3-5 days, are sealed, mailed, and analyzed by a radon testing laboratory. You will get one number back as your radon test result, as opposed to hourly readings when utilizing a CRM. Those who conduct short-term liquid scintillation tests may consider follow-up testing to verify the result, especially if the results come back close to the EPA action level of 4.0 pCi/L.
Long-Term CRM Tests
Long-term devices are placed and activated for a maximum period of 90 days. Long-term tests are helpful to identify and overcome any seasonal weather conditions and give you a more detailed look at the overall story of radon concentrations in your home through different seasons.
With the right detailed and accurate information, you can make an informed decision for your peace of mind protection against radon in your home.
Here at Protect Environmental, we utilize our proprietary Radon Sentinel technology to conduct CRM tests. Designed to be highly sensitive, our devices supply more detailed readings of the radon concentrations in your home. Reach out to our team today to schedule a professional radon test and know your risk of exposure to radon gas.
What is a Safe Radon Level?
The U.S. EPA has set the radon action level to 4.0 pCi/L. Although, there is no safe level of radon. What 4.0 pCi/L means is that at a test result of 4, the risk of exposure outweighs the cost to install a mitigation system. This action level is different in other countries and is mostly a benchmark to understand the comparison between assumed risk and cost.
Our opinion? You can’t put a price on peace of mind protection against radon exposure in the places you live, work, and learn.
Our Residential Project Manager, Greg Turner, likes to describe radon exposure risk like a game of darts. You have your dart board on the other side of the room, representing damage to your lungs. The darts represent radon gas. The more darts you have, the greater your chances of hitting the bullseye on the dartboard. A radon test helps you to know how many darts you have, and a mitigation system helps reduce the number of darts, or your chances of hitting the bullseye.
If your test comes back elevated, don't fear.
Radon mitigation is an effective solution for reducing the radon levels in your home. Acting as a sort of vacuum, a mitigation system has an activated fan and pipe structure that sucks the air out from under your home and releases it above your roofline, out of harm’s way.
Working with our team of certified and licensed radon mitigation specialists is imperative to ensure the radon levels in your home are properly managed. A poorly installed system could not only fail to reduce the radon levels in your home, but in some cases have been found to make radon levels worsen.
Do not attempt to DIY your radon mitigation system. Do your research, and make sure you are working with the professionals to properly mitigate your radon gas exposure risk.
The average cost in the United States for a radon mitigation system is anywhere between $1,200 to $4,500 (depending on your foundation type). When installed correctly, and with proper maintenance, these systems will last many years, providing the peace of mind that you are not being exposed to cancer-causing, radioactive radon gas. If you’ve tested your home and determine you have a problem, work with our team of licensed and certified professionals for the best results.
If you live outside of our service area, visit the NRPP website to search for a licensed and certified radon contractor in your area.
Test for Radon, Know Your Radon Risk
When in doubt – test. If there are elevated radon levels in your home, it is important to know your risk, so that you can work to reduce the radon levels in your home. Conducting a radon test is the first step in knowing if the air you are breathing at home is healthy and safe.
Reach out to our team of certified trusted professionals to schedule your radon test today!