Radon is a naturally occurring environmental toxin. It’s the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States, and, therefore, worthy of our consideration. The good news is that this toxin is comparatively easy to identify and mitigate.
A Homeowner’s Guide to Radon
What is radon?
Radon is a colorless, chemically unreactive inert gas. You cannot smell, see, or taste radon. It is the heaviest known gas, nine times denser than air and occurs as part of the normal radioactive decay process. It enters our living spaces via the ground, groundwater, or building materials. Holes or cracks in the foundation may be a clue that radon is an issue.
How do I know if we have a radon problem?
Since human senses cannot detect radon, your environment must be tested. There are two types of tests: Long-term and short-term. The Environmental Protection Agency suggests these steps when evaluating your home or office:
- Step 1: Take a short-term test. If your result is four pCi/L or higher, take a follow-up test (Step 2) to be sure.
- Step 2: Follow up with either a long-term test or a second short-term test.
If you need results quickly, the EPA suggests a second short-term test. If time is not an issue, the long-term test may offer a better understanding of the year-round radon average. For more information, see the EPA’s radon page.
Kansas State University offers affordable testing options at National Radon Program Services. Continuous monitoring is also available with devices such as the Safety Siren Pro Series HS71512 3 Radon Gas Detector.
More resources can be found at RadonResources.com.
How can I reduce the levels of radon in my home or workplace?
Because of the varied issues surrounding radon, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. However, there are several proven correction methods, including a vent pipe system and fan which pulls radon from underneath the building and vents it to the outside. Known as a Soil Suction Radon Reduction System, this option does not require significant changes to the structure.
The EPA recommends contacting your state’s radon program to find a qualified contractor near you. See their interactive map for state-by-state information.
Other mitigation service providers may be found through either of these organizations:
You can expect to pay between $500 and $2,500, depending on the size and design of your home or office building. Such an investment can go a long way toward protecting your health and well-being.
We are performing inspections on a home we are about to buy. Our general home inspector who is ASHI certified offers a radon test for $150. We’re testing a 1200 sq ft condo. This is the rate we were quoted by multiple home inspectors in our area. Should a general home inspector be qualified to do this? I just wondered after seeing the cost in your article…
Andrea Fabry says
We performed our test for less than 20 dollars and were happy with it. The results are easy to interpret. That does seem a little high to me.
Oh wow, $20. Did you purchase your own testing kit, or did the inspector provide it?
Andrea Fabry says
They are easily purchased online. This is the kit we used:
Ours came back in negligible amounts. The EPA looks for 4 or below for safety.