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Radon is a colorless, odorless, tasteless, and chemically inert, cancer- causing radioactive gas. It is formed by the natural radioactive decay of uranium in rock, soil, and water. You cannot see, smell or taste radon, but it may be a problem in your home. The Surgeon General has warned that radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States today. If you smoke and your home has high radon levels, you’re at high risk for developing lung cancer. Some scientific studies of radon exposure indicate that children may be more sensitive to radon. This may be due to their higher respiration rate and their rapidly dividing cells, which may be more vulnerable to radiation damage.
Testing for radon is the only way of telling how much radon is present in your home. There are no immediate symptoms that will alert you to the presence of radon. It typically takes years of exposure before any problems surface.
Each year radon causes 20,000 lung cancer deaths and in Pennsylvania alone, there are between 860-3,800 lung cancer deaths per year due to residential radon exposure.
While you may not be able to taste, see or smell radon, this radioactive gas causes an extensive amount of damage to the body. In fact, roughly 270,000 homes in PA have radon levels over 20 pCi/L which is much more than the EPA action level of 4 pCi/L.
The EPA recommends that all houses be tested for radon during the point of sale. The most common procedure for radon testing during real estate transactions is for the potential buyer to request the radon test in conjunction with the the home inspection. The radon test is a separate service and must be requested with the home inspection and must be elected on the home purchase contract.
If the radon test indicates that the radon average is 4 pCi/L or greater, the EPA recommends the potential buyer negotiate with the seller to have a radon mitigation system installed with the stated goal of bringing the radon level in the home below 4 pCi/L.
The owner of a house can test their home for radon prior to listing their home for sale. If you perform a radon test you are required to disclose the result on the house disclosure form that you fill out with your realtor when listing your property.
If the radon test comes back less than 4 pCi/L, potential buyers may still request an additional radon test as part of their home inspection.
If an initial radon test by the homeowner is 4 pCi/L or greater, the issue will need to be addressed in the real estate transaction. If the radon level is 4 pCi/L or greater, we recommend that a radon mitigation system be installed prior to placing the house on the market. In Pennsylvania, a homeowner may install their own radon reduction system or they can hire a professional to mitigate the radon. Any person (other than the actual homeowner) performing radon testing or radon mitigation MUST be certified by the PA Department of Environmental Protection Agency.
The first step in correcting a radon problem is to hire a certified radon contractor (mitigator)—a professional whose knowledge and skills have been recognized by the National Radon Proficiency Program or the National Radon Safety Board. SeeMore Home Inspections is Certified through the PA DEP and has completed the National Radon Proficiency Program.
For most homes, the mitigator will follow three steps to reduce airborne radon: evaluate the property, seal any potential radon entry points (cracks, joints, dirt crawl spaces, ect) and install a radon reduction system (fan and suction point). The most commonly installed type of system uses active soil depressurization (ASD), formerly called sub-slab depressurization (SSD). The radon mitigator will design the right system for your home, depending on its design, the underlying soil, and other factors including the age of the home. Typically homes built prior to 1975 have less stone under the foundation which makes it more difficult to move the air underneath the home.
The airborne radon system works by changing air pressure beneath your home and then, through the use of a specially designed radon fan, it draws out the radon gas and safely vents it, through one or more pipes and exits it above the roofline. SeeMore radon reduction systems use 4" pipe (rather than 3") to move air more efficiently.
After the mitigation system is installed, SeeMore mitigators perform a post test with a Sun Nuclear 1027 Continuous Radon Monitor to do a post mitigation radon test to ensure the radon has been reduced to under 4 pCi/L. All data is reported by SeeMore Inspections to the PA DEP along with a $50 radon activation fee.