Should I Get a Radon Test for My Home?
Whether you’re buying, selling, or just curious, home inspections can be a very useful tool when determining the value of your home. In fact, you may find that certain parts of your home may add value that you didn’t know about previously. Conversely, you might find that there are certain issues that need attention before you put your home on the market. One commonly overlooked yet very important test during home inspections is a radon inspection. It’s worth asking yourself ‘Should I get a radon test with my home inspection’? as a safety precaution for your family and for potential buyers.
What is radon and how does it get into your home? Radon is a naturally occurring element that is a product of the radioactive decay of elements like radium and uranium in the soil. In layman’s terms, this means that radon can appear through natural processes in places that were previously radon free. It is a colorless, odorless and tasteless gas, making it impossible to detect with human senses alone. It is slightly radioactive and is considered a noble gas, meaning that it is slow to react with other elements in the environment.
Radon occurs naturally and is always around in very small quantities. In fact, the average outdoor radon concentration for the United States is about 0.4 pCi/L. As radon continues the radioactive decay process, it can produce solids or ‘daughters’ that are also radioactive. These daughters can attach themselves to dust particles and surfaces within the home.
Why is Radon Dangerous?
According to the EPA, radon is the second largest culprit in the occurrence of lung cancer in the United States, surpassed only by smoking. Because it is a naturally occurring element found indoors and outdoors, there is always a slight risk of developing lung cancer from exposure, however small. The longer and more concentrated your exposure to radon, the higher your risk is for developing radon-related lung cancer. Though this information may startle some, it is important to remember that many natural elements pose the similar threats to various areas of the body and simple exposure does not guarantee cancer. In fact, according to the EPA, the likelihood of a non-smoker developing radon-related lung cancer in a well-ventilated area of about 0.4 pCi/L is so small it is almost immeasurable.
People who smoke have a significantly higher risk of developing radon-related illness than people who do not smoke. Though the likelihood is small, radon is still the number one cause of lung cancer among non-smokers. Therefore, it is important to check your home’s radon levels on a regular basis.
Are Radon Tests Necessary?
Because of radon’s natural presence in the air and its potential health risks, it is wise to test the radon levels in your home. If you have never tested radon levels in your home before, it may be time for a radon inspection. If your home has been tested for radon in years previous, feel free to look at those test results and schedule another test to compare fluctuations. It is suggested that homeowners, particularly those with families, test for radon on a regular basis. Radon levels can fluctuate based on seasons and the weather. For these reasons, getting an idea about how your home handles radon concentration in various conditions can help you make adjustments throughout the year. A home is considered safe when radon levels stay below 2 pCi/L, with suggested levels hovering around 1.3 pCi/L. If you are selling your home or moving to a new home, a healthy radon level can add value to your property.
How Are Radon Tests Conducted?
There are a few ways to conduct a radon test. You may try a DIY kit, though the accuracy of such products isn’t always reliable. You may also hire a professional radon inspector. The process of testing the home and receiving lab results usually takes a few days to about one week. Radon tests are conducted in the lowest and coolest inhabitable areas of the home. A finished basement or bottom-story bedroom would be ideal areas to test because of radon, though gaseous, sinks. Because radon levels fluctuate on a day to day basis, the test itself lasts between 24 to 72 hours, taking multiple radon readings. The tests are then analyzed by a lab where technicians take the average of all of the readings to provide your home’s average level.
How Can You Reduce Radon After Testing?
If you’ve had your property tested for radon levels and you would like to lower your score, there are a few easy ways to help clear radon from your home. Perhaps the most intuitive yet least effect way is natural ventilation. This involves opening windows and doors to keep air moving naturally throughout the house. This method may work for some but not others because radon concentration depends largely on the natural environment. If you are on uranium-rich soil, for instance, allowing outside air to flow freely through your home may increase your radon levels. Another method is forced ventilation, where air is forced out with large fans. If your home has a radon level greater than 2.0 pCi/L, it is highly recommended that you consult a radon removal specialist. A specialist will likely use a combination of several methods unique to your home’s situation.
If ignored, radon could pose serious health risks to you, your family and potential buyers. When you ask yourself ‘Should I get a radon test with my home inspections’? the answer is most likely ‘yes’. Luckily, radon can be easily detected and removed. Contact Michigan Quality Inspection Services for a quote.