Radon gas testing relative to a real estate purchase contract requires an unbiased 3rd party professional to perform the testing; however, everyone should be aware of the radon gas levels in the home/apartment where they live. Testing a home outside of a real estate transaction can easily be performed by the person living in the home.
There are several sources of radon gas test kits on the market. Most are inexpensive and very easy to use. A Long-Term test is most accurate and only requires placing a test canister in the home for 1 month to up to a year and then mailing the canister to a laboratory for analysis.
Radon gas is a naturally-occurring byproduct of the radioactive decay of Uranium in the soil. Depending on your geographic location, the radon levels of the air you breathe outside of your home may be as high as 0.75 pCi/L. The national average of outside radon levels is 0.4 pCi/L and it is estimated by the National Academy of Sciences that outdoor radon levels cause approximately 800 of the 21,000 radon-induced lung cancer deaths in the US each year. Your risk of lung cancer increases substantially with exposure to higher radon levels. Lung cancer risk rises 16% per 2.7 pCi/L increase in radon exposure.
Radon Act 51 passed by Congress set the natural outdoor level of radon gas (0.4 pCi/L) as the target radon level for indoor radon levels. Unfortunately, two-thirds of all homes exceed this level. The US EPA was tasked with setting practical guidelines and recommendations for the nation. To this end, the US EPA has set an action level of 4 pCi/L. At or above this level of radon, the EPA recommends you take corrective measures to reduce your exposure to radon gas. This does not imply that a level below 4.0 pCi/L is considered acceptable, as stated in the BEIR VI study. It is estimated that a reduction of radon levels to below 2 pCi/L nationwide would likely reduce the yearly lung cancer deaths attributed to radon by 50%.
More information is available on the internet at sites such as www.Radon.com and www.epa.gov/radon/pubs. They also offer the Alpha-Track Long-Term test kits by clicking on “Order Now” tab. These are the same test kits used by many professional radon testing companies, and cost less than $30.00.
As much as 32% of the homes in Lancaster county South Carolina, as determined by a leading testing/analysis provider is said to contain radon levels over 4.0pCi/L.
If unacceptable levels of radon gas is found in the home, there are mitigation methods that are usually simple and effective.
If your home has not been recently tested for radon gas levels, I recommend either contacting a testing professional, or one of the available radon testing products companies and performing the test.kencorbitt@EPIinc.org www.epiinc.org Ken Corbitt is a guest author for HomesFortMill.com and owner of EPI, Inc. Home Inspections with over 20 years of home building, home repairs, and home inspections, and licensed in North and South Carolina.