Over the course of buying or a selling a home, you may hear about radon. Many people may ask “What is radon?” and “What’s the concern?” Radon is a radioactive gas that is virtually undetectable by our five senses. It’s the by-product of radioactive decaying uranium found naturally in rock, soil, and water. As the uranium breaks down it releases radon gas which rises through the ground into the air. It can also be dissolved into water.
Should I be concerned?
According to the Surgeon General, radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer among Americans, just behind smoking. Breathing radon gas and in some cases drinking radon in water over an extended period of time increases a person’s risk for health complications. The EPA has stated that any exposure over 4pCi/L is considered high and should be avoided. Uranium can be found in the ground in all fifty states and therefore so can radon. The EPA has classified the country into three zones depending on the levels of radon found in the area. Florida is classified mostly in zone 2 with a few counties listed in the higher zone 3. Radon gas can enter a home through cracks in the foundation, windows, utility fittings, and sump pumps.
What should homeowners do?
Homeowners and buyers should both educate themselves on radon. If a homeowner is considering selling their home, they can have the home tested prior to listing. Sellers should be aware that any radon testing and their results need to be disclosed at the time of listing. If a person is considering purchasing a home, a radon test can be requested as part of the home inspection. If the results come back 4 pCi/L or higher the EPA recommends that a plan to mitigate the radon be agreed upon. There are systems that can be installed and/or repairs made to the home to reduce the amount of radon entering a home.
While the EPA and Surgeon General have acknowledged radon is a serious issue, it doesn’t spell disaster for a home’s sale. Radon can be found in all types of homes, old and new. Mitigation systems and home repairs and modifications can reduce the levels in a home making it safe for occupation and an attractive property to market.