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Radon Inspections

Facts About Radon and Radon Inspections

How to Perform Radon Tests when Buying a Home

Radon is a colorless, odorless, tasteless radioactive gas that’s formed during the natural breakdown of uranium in soil, rock, and water. Radon exits the ground and can seep into your home through cracks and holes in the foundation. Radon gas can also contaminate well water. This is why it is so important for Radon Testing.

Health officials have determined that radon gas is a carcinogen that can cause lung cancer. Studies show that radon is more of a risk to smokers, but nonsmokers have a slightly elevated chance of developing lung cancer when radon levels in the home are high. The only way to find out if your house contains radon gas is to perform radon tests.

thumb-imgEPA Radon Studies

The EPA offers a look at what they believe to be the risks of radon at different concentrations for 1,000 people who smoked and were consistently exposed to a certain level of radon during their lifetimes.

Check out the full story on Radon Facts from the EPA

Radon Risks for Smokers

  • With exposure to 10 pCi/L, about 71 would get cancer, equal to 100 times the risk of dying in a home fire.
  • With exposure to 4 pCi/L, about 29 would get cancer, equal to 100 times the risk of dying in a plane crash.

Radon Risks for Non-Smokers:

  • With exposure to 8 pCi/L, about 3 would get cancer, equal to 10 times the risk of dying in a plane crash.
  • With exposure to 4 pCi/L, about 2 would get cancer, equal to the risk of drowning.

Acceptable Radon Levels

The Environmental Protection Agency, EPA, recommends you install a system to reduce radon gas in your home if the level of gas is 4 picocuries of radon per liter (pCi/L) or higher.

Facts About Radon Gas

  • There are no average radon levels for a specific city, state, or region.
  • Houses without basements are as much at risk of radon contamination as houses with basements.
  • It doesn’t matter if your neighbor’s radon test was low or high, results for your home may be completely different.

Radon Gas Testing Methods

There are two basic types of radon gas testing devices, passive and active. You can order a radon test kit and set it up yourself or you can hire a professional to perform the test.

Passive Radon Testing Devices

  • Do not need power to function.
  • Include charcoal canisters, alpha-track detectors, and charcoal liquid scintillation devices that are exposed to the air in your home for a specific amount of time and are then sent to a laboratory for analysis.

Active Radon Testing Devices

  • Require power to function.
  • Continuously measure and record radon in the air, making radon spikes and dips more apparent.
  • Include continuous working level monitors and continuous radon monitors.
  • May include anti-interference features that reveal if the unit is moved during testing.
  • Generally considered to be more reliable than passive radon devices.
  • Normally used only by home inspectors and air quality professionals.

How Long Should You Test for Radon Gas?

Long term radon tests take more than 90 days, but provide an accurate picture of the average amount of radon in your home. Since time is an issue, home buyers usually perform short term radon with either an active or passive testing device. Most short term radon tests are completed in 48 to 96 hours.

EPA Recommends:

  • If you are buying a home or selling your home, have it tested for radon.
  • For a new home, ask if radon-resistant construction features were used and if the home has been tested.
  • Fix the home if the radon level is 4 picoCuries per liter (pCi/L) or higher.
  • Radon levels less than 4 pCi/L still pose a risk, and in many cases, may be reduced.
  • Take steps to prevent device interference when conducting a New Jersey radon test.
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