Radon – Doesn’t have to be a deal breaker…But How?

What IS Radon? – Simply put…

It’s the 2nd leading cause of lung cancer in the United States – A “Class A” Carcinogen determined by the EPA and the Surgeon General. It is also the leading of lung cancer in non-smokers.

Have I gotten your attention yet? You can’t smell it, see it, feel it, taste it, or shake hands with it. It’s a problem here in Georgia yet SO MANY of us buying and selling homes, just ignore it. It a hazard to our families and friends and you may as well stick them in a bar with 100 smokers for 10 years. Same thing.

What is misunderstood is HOW EASY it is to mitigate in our homes. If you have a Radon problem, that doesn’t mean your neighbor does too.

More scientifically, its the decay of Uranium or Radium found in our earth’s soil and bedrock. Atlanta lies on the Georgia Piedmont, a think layer of sedimentary and igneous rocks, like granite. And as these organic materials decay, the can release Radon gas that decays into radioactive particles that when breathed in, can become trapped in the lungs causing cancer.

Does My Home Have Radon? Not every home has Radon, in fact, it’s only about 1 in 15 homes that pose the risk of higher Radon Levels, however, why would you risk NOT knowing when it’s so simple to determine and relatively inexpensive to mitigate? In fact, most homes may have some levels of Radon found in the soil beneath or surrounding, however, they are in small amounts that do not cause threat to our health.

How Much is Too Much? Radon is measured in Picocuries per liter (pCi/L). The EPA recommends radon mitigation for levels of 4 pCi/L or higher.

How Do I Find Determine If My Home Has a Radon Problem? Don’t guess. Get it tested! Since you cannot smell, taste, see or feel radon, ask your Eco-Broker Certified Realtor who to contact to have a professional Radon Test conducted. Your local county extension office also may give away do it yourself short-term radon testers for a just few dollars or sometimes even for free. You can even try your local hardware store an not spend over $15-$20….A NO BRAINER!! An short-term example is a Charcoal canister you would place in on the 1st ‘living’ level of your home away from a fan, air vent or window. After a few days, you can send it in to get tested to determine your average level of radon in your home. Remember it varies – it’s a gas!

What if My Home Has Radon Above Acceptable Levels? Don’t panic! It’s fixable and for rather inexpensive. Remember, the risk is from a long duration of exposure to high levels of radon. Contact your Eco-Broker Certified Realtor to put you in touch with a qualified radon mitigation contractor. They will complete a series of steps from sealing any cracks or gaps in your foundation to installing an active-mitigation system that is made of a few pipes, a fan and a sub-slab depressurization system. The cost can run you from $1200 – $2000 depending on the size of the problem. If you are buying a home, have your Realtor negotiate the installation of a mitigation system prior to closing.

In Closing… It’s most important when buying or selling a home, that you make yourself aware of any potential health hazards in a home. As a seller, you want to be sure you are protecting your self down the road by providing full disclosure and think of how much better you can market your home if you have already addressed the issue that many buyers will potentially investigate – you don’t want a deal breaker!

Buyers, don’t we all want a safe and happy home? Crime stats are important, but your LUNGS are too.

image credits southface.org

3 thoughts on “Radon – Doesn’t have to be a deal breaker…But How?

  1. This is really great info. What about if you live in a condominum? Who is responsible for the testing and treatment?

  2. Great question! If you live on the 2nd floor or above, generally high levels of radon are not typically a problem since typically indoor radon issues arise from cracks in the foundation where decaying bedrock lies beneath. If you live on the 2nd floor and up and you feel an overwhelming sense of concern, I recommend testing…not guessing. Try one of the inexpensive short-duration tests (local hardware store, county extension office, etc) and have a crack at it. Or, hire a professional if you don’t feel comfortable testing it yourself.

    If thorough testing indicated you have increased levels of radon, remember your condo association is typically not responsible for what happens within the walls of the unit you own, so mitigation would be something you’d most likely have to address on your own dime with a qualified contractor.

    Also, when you purchased your home, you should have received a nice thick book of condo association documents and declarations, check there first to see if they have any language on these types of safety or health issues.

    I would, however, inform your HOA of the problem and suggest they put together a task force to help test and inform other residents of the potential health issue. They also may need to be made aware of the fact that a typical active-mitigation system will need to go on the exterior of the building and perhaps interfere with other units and or the roofing structure. If for some reason they have a problem with that and it can’t be treated properly within the confines of the declarations, well then, hire a lawyer 😉

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