OK, so maybe we don’t want to talk to the current president about this issue but trust me, becoming knowledgeable about Radon in the home is something we all need to do. Recently, I had the opportunity to sit down with Linda Kincaid M.P.H., C.I.H. to talk about the risk of Radon in the home. Linda is a professional for Industrial Hygiene Services and is responsible for completing a variety of environmental tests on residential properties as well as commercial properties throughout the Bay Area. We discussed the typical disclosures that are required for the selling and buying of a residential property including the information presented on Radon.
Based on recent scientific reports, Radon is the leading cause of lung cancer in non-smokers and the second leading cause overall. This fact alone is enough to trigger a need for education amongst home owners about Radon in the home. Many believe that Radon only occurs in certain parts of the country and not here in California. In fact, the potential for Radon in the home is every where and one simple $10 test can tell you whether or not your family home is safe. These test are offered on line by many different companies simply by searching for Radon Test.
Radon is a radioactive gas that seeps up through the ground and enters the home. Since it comes from the ground, the lowest part of the home (normally the basement or crawl space) will most likely have the highest levels. Homes in the Bay Area that are located near faults or Monterey Shale formations are more likely to have high levels of Radon than homes located in the valleys. Because Radon is typically found in rocks containing Uranium such as granites or shales, the amount of Radon in the soil is dependent on the amount of rock formation near the home.
What amount of Radon is considered safe? The Department of Health and Safety (DHS) considers any level less than 4 pCi/L to be safe. In reality, there is some risk of cancer with any exposure to radiation. When a home is tested for Radon the results are recorded on the DHS web site by zip code. As a homeowner you can look up your local zip code to see if any tests have been completed and the level of Radon that was reported.
Of course the next question is, “What do you do if you have unsafe levels of Radon in your home?” The remedy is fairly simple and typically costs less than new windows to complete. The Radon must be “vented” away from your home and therefore a series of pipes that capture the gas from the soil and vent it away are the remedy.
Then Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) offers a free handbook about radon on their web site. You can also contact Linda Kincaid to discuss testing for Radon or other hazardous materials such as mold, asbestos, or lead. If you have questions about Radon and the real estate transaction, please contact me.
Understanding the potential risk of Radon and how to test for it will help keep your family safe, no matter where you live, or who the president might be.