WHAT IS RADON AND WHY SHOULD I BE CONCERNED ABOUT IT?
Radon is a tasteless, odorless, colorless, naturally occurring radioactive gas. It
comes from the breakdown of uranium in rocks and soil. It is the second leading
cause of lung cancer in the United States, causing an estimated 21,000 deaths
annually. Studies have shown that western Pennsylvania is one of the regions in
the United States where high radon levels are common. Experts estimate that 40%
of the homes in Pennsylvania have radon levels greater than the EPA guideline
of 4.0 pCi/L and above. Notice on the graphic how radon can enter into a house.
WHAT ARE SOME COMMON MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT RADON?
One misconception is that you only need to worry about having your house tested
if you have a basement. The fact is that radon enters into whatever level is in contact
with the surrounding soil and rock. If you have a house built on a slab, then radon will
enter into your first floor living space the same way it will enter into a house through a
basement. A second misconception is that you don't need to worry about radon if your house
is brand new. Test results have proven again and again that the age of a house has no effect on
radon. Some of our highest readings were in new construction, and some of the lowest were in houses over one hundred years old. Again, it all depends upon what is under the dwelling. People also think they don't need to get a house tested if the house they are buying already had a test done a few years ago. Yet the EPA recommends getting a house retested every two years because changes can occur over time. Even if your neighbor's house tested low, it is important to remember that no two houses are the same and there are variations in the soil and rock even in the same neighborhood.
HOW DO I KNOW IF MY HOME HAS HIGH RADON LEVELS?
You and your family are most likely to get your greatest exposure to radon at home. The only way to know the radon level in your home is to test. Testing is easy and inexpensive. You can perform the test yourself using a Pennsylvania certified testing device purchased at a home center, hardware store, or from a Pennsylvania certified laboratory. You will then need to send the test kit to a Pennsylvania certified lab for results. More accurate testing is available from a certified professional using equipment like our state-of-the art monitors from Sun Nuclear designed to give much more precise readings. We calibrate our monitors on a regular basis for accuracy. Our monitors have an hour-by-hour reading printed out so that you get a clear sense of fluctuations, whereas many other monitors only print out one final number. Ours also indicate when a monitor has been touched or tampered with.
WHAT DO MY RESULTS MEAN?
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends that you take action if the reading is 4.0 pCi/L or higher. To reduce radon levels, a radon mitigation system will need to be installed. We do not install these systems ourselves so there is no conflict of interest and you can be assured of the truthfulness of the reading. However, we can point you in the right direction to reputable companies who install these systems. The most common type of system uses an arrangement of plastic pipes and fans to vent the radon gas to the outside air. Each house is unique, but the typical cost of a system is between $850 and $1,200.
Richard D. Malin & Associates, Inc.
Home Inspections, Radon Testing, Infrared Thermal Imaging, Indoor Air Quality Testing