Having performed over 5000+ radon tests on homes over the years, we have heard every possible radon frequently asked questions from home buyers and home owners. Testing for radon in Colorado is extremely important, whether buying a home or as a home owner. With radon gas being the #2 cause of lung cancer, and the EPA recently announcing all counties in Colorado are in the high-risk category for radon, testing is the only way to understand if elevated levels of radon are present in the home.
Home buyers should always have a radon test performed when considering the purchase of a home.
– Finding elevated concentrations of radon doesn’t mean you should walk away from your dream home!
– Radon reduction technology has improved so much over the last few years that reducing radon is easy and affordable.
Let’s tackle the top 6 radon frequently asked questions we have heard from buyers and homeowners about radon in homes:
Question #1 – What is Radon:
– Radon is an invisible, radioactive gas created from natural deposits of uranium and radium in the soil. Radon gas can be drawn into a building and accumulate to concentrations that can increase the potential for contracting lung cancer.
– Although there are rare cases where the source of the radon has come from building materials created from spent uranium processing plants, the major source of radon in Colorado homes comes from the natural deposits of uranium commonly found in Colorado.
Question #2 – Why should I be concerned about Radon:
– Radon is regarded as a Group A carcinogen; it is known to cause cancer in humans with prolonged exposure. Many buyers are concerned about their health risk, as well as property resale value and want to test for and correct radon concerns.
– The United States Environmental Protection Agency and Surgeon General recommend that people not have long-term exposures in excess of 4.0 pico Curies per liter (pCi/L).
– The only means to determine the exposure levels in a home is to measure for Radon.
Question #3 – How common is Radon in Colorado:
– Surveys conducted by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment indicate that four out of 10 Colorado homes have the potential for having radon concentrations in excess of the EPA guideline of 4.0 pC/L.
– The EPA recently designated that all counties in Colorado are at the highest risk level for radon gas.
– Radon can be found in any type of home, not just homes with basements. Homes over a crawlspace or built on a slab can also have radon present. The amount of radon is primarily dependent on the uranium concentration in the soil deep below the home.
– That’s why the number of people testing their homes, schools, and office buildings is continually increasing.
– A short-term radon test, which is the most typical type of test, is conducted for a minimum of 48 hours
– The radon detector is set in the lowest living space in the home that could be occupied or lived in
– All the windows of the home are closed during the test and must remain closed during the testing process
– Various types of radon detection devices are available, although most home inspectors utilize an electronic detector called a Continuous-Radon-Monitor.
Question #5 – How do I interpret radon test results:
– If a short-term radon test is conducted in the lowest portion of a home that could be occupied, while all exterior doors and windows are closed for a minimum of two days, one can reasonably say:
– If the result is less than 4.0 pCi/L, the annual average of the home under normal lived-in conditions is also likely to be less than 4.0 pCi/L. Mitigation or further action is not required at this time, but periodic retesting should be done.
– If the level is at or above 4.0 pCi/L the house has the potential for being above 4.0 pCi/L and you should consider follow-up testing or taking action to reduce (mitigate) the radon in the home. Mitigation should be pursued at this time.
Question #6 – How is radon mitigated or reduced:
• Considerable research has been conducted by governmental agencies and private industry within the state of Colorado to help develop techniques for properly mitigating radon in homes. The techniques are straightforward, reliable and typically can be done in one day by a qualified contractor.
• Radon is mitigated by installing a system that withdraws the radon-laden soil gas from beneath the foundation and exhausts it outside of the building, far enough away from windows and other openings that it will not re-enter.
• A reduction system typically consists of a plastic pipe connected to the soil either through a hole in the slab, via a sump lid connection, or access beneath a plastic sheet in a crawl space.
• Attached to the pipe is a quiet, continuously operating fan that discharges the radon outdoors.
George founded Scott Home Inspection in 2006, and has grown the business into a multi-inspector firm serving the Colorado Front Range, from Fort Collins down to Colorado Springs. As an ASHI Certified Home Inspector and Certified Energy Rater, George is an excellent resource to help with inspection and energy-related requirements.
Corinna Bolton Fieger is a real estate agent based in the Denver area. She combines her years of experience in the housing industry with her extensive background as an educator to provide a top notch buying or selling experience to all of her clients.