Why Is Radon Testing Important?
Updated: May 16, 2018
Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States, the number one cause is smoking. Radon kills about 21,000 people a year. Enough said? Wait, it gets worse. The EPA designates most of Minnesota as a Zone 1 for radon levels. That is the highest designation category for radon by the EPA. In Minnesota, 2 out of every 5 homes have radon levels that pose a significant health risk.
It doesn’t matter if the home is 100 or 1 years old. The age of the home makes no difference whatsoever in determining the amount of radon in the home. You cannot see or smell radon. It is a colorless, odorless radioactive gas that comes from the soil. It’s Minnesota’s geology that puts most of the state at an elevated risk for radon. If the home you are looking at has a basement, it has a higher chance of having elevated radon levels.
Ok, enough bad news. What can be done? First, you need to get your home tested to see how high your radon levels are. Finding a qualified and thorough radon inspector can be daunting. Knowing what to ask beforehand is key. Ask the (potential) people that are going to test your home; when was the last time you calibrated your equipment with a radon certified lab? If they dance around that questions with anything other than saying the date – I highly suggest, as a professional, to look for home inspection professionals that can answer your inquiries directly.
If you find out that your home or the home you are looking to purchase has high radon levels, there are things you can do. So, what counts as having high radon levels? The EPA recommends that you take action if the concentration of radon is above 4 pCi/l. If your test levels come above that, you are going to want to take action. Depending on the home, installing a radon mitigation system can cost $1,200 to $1,500. The time to find this out is when you are buying the home, and you can negotiate this with the seller.
Please, visit the EPA and the Minnesota Department of Health’s websites to read more about radon and the dangers it poses, including death. It is something very serious. I would not recommend completing any real estate transaction, without knowing the radon levels of the property.
By Matt Finch
A&M Home Inspection