Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas that, when it has accumulated in a building in sufficient quantities, may present health risks to occupants who are exposed to it over time. Levels of radon that exceed federal and state guidelines have been found in buildings in every state in America.
Radon is a gas which is odorless, tasteless, and invisible to the naked eye.
Exposure to Radon is considered the leading cause of lung cancer, among non-smokers, in the United States, and is the cause of over 21,000 deaths per year.
Risk of exposure is relative to geography, and Southwest Washington is designated as a high risk area according to the EPA
As an add-on service for any home inspection, our Radon Testing is non-invasive, utilizing specialized equipment that is strategically staged in the home, which is kept in closed conditions for a period of 48 hours, After the test has been completed, the equipment is collected, the data is downloaded to a report, and the report is immediately issued to our client.
As part of a real estate transaction, this additional testing can yield valuable (and potentially lifesaving) information!
EPA recommends testing for radon whenever you are buying or selling a home, as well as testing every 2 years.
If the home is a new construction home, buyers are also advised to ask the home builder about the radon-resistant construction features that were used, and whether or not radon testing has been performed.
If your home has been recently renovated, or you have made changes to your living spaces (such as making the basement a livable space), then home owners are also advised to test for radon.
The most likely route of entry for radon gasses in the home, is from the ground, through your home's crawlspace.
Since radon is a gas, it can permeate through a variety of materials, and it can easily migrate through cracks, gaps, and fissures in flooring, foundations, improperly sealed joints, etc.
Homes that are built on concrete slabs are also at risk of elevated radon gas levels within the home, as gasses can easily permeate through the concrete.
Granite countertops and tap water have been known sources for elevated radon exposure, but these instances are not known to be as common as ground seepage.
No, high radon gas levels in the home should not be considered a deal breaker in a real estate transaction.
In fact, since radon gas mitigation systems are inexpensive to install, and have proven to be a very effective means to deal with elevated radon levels in a home, if the home you are trying to purchase has elevated levels of radon gas, it puts you in a better position to negotiate with the seller!
There are many companies in the area who specialize in radon mitigation systems, and offer warranties on the systems that they install.
The short answer is, yes! Off-the-shelf radon test kits are available, and should provide you with a rough idea of what your exposure level looks like, but these are not professional grade tests. Understand that while the cost of the test kit may be inexpensive, the price off the shelf does not usually include the laboratory processing fees, and generally takes several weeks to process.
When following EPA guidelines, and the manufacturer's instructions, radon testing should be implemented in every home owner's maintenance cycle.
If you are in the middle of a real estate transaction, it is advisable to have your prospective home tested by a company with certified radon testers, like Structural Integrity Solutions.
The manner of testing we employ can provide results within a 48-72 hours. Test results provided by a qualified third party company can add credibility to your negotiations, which can be critical for navigating through real estate negotiations.
In short, you cannot prevent radon from entering your home without adding a mitigation system.
As radon has been discovered in every state, it is an unavoidable fact of life for some home owners, but that does not automatically make it an expensive or arduous endeavor to mitigate the problem.
Sealants alone cannot prevent or control the inflow of radon gasses into your home, but they can help mitigation systems work more efficiently.