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Testing for Carcinogens

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Testing for Radon Gas

The Surgeon General has issued an advisory to all Americans about the dangers of exposure to radon gas. But what is radon gas? Radon is a colorless, odorless gas that is commonly found in homes. It is carcinogenic when inhaled in large doses, causing lung cancer. More than 21,000 Americans are killed every year by lung cancer caused by radon. To ensure your health and safety, experts urge every homeowner to test their house and find out how much radon they are breathing in and, where possible, reduce these numbers as much as possible.

Testing is the only way to know if radon is present in your home. At If Walls Could Talk Home Inspection, Inc., I offer radon gas testing for clients in Atlanta, GA, and the surrounding areas.


Correcting the Radon Problem

If higher levels of radon gas (above 4 pCi/L) are found in your home, there are a variety of ways to reduce those levels and fix the problem. Even when the levels are exceptionally high, they can be reduced to healthy levels.


The EPA's Radon Testing Checklist

To ensure that every home is tested properly, the EPA has issued a definitive checklist that all licensed professionals should follow:

  1. Ensure that the homeowner is aware of proper testing conditions and how important that is to guarantee accurate results. This includes giving the owner or occupant written instructions or a copy of this guide. It also includes explaining everything in clear, concise terms.
  2. Conduct the radon test, which should last for a minimum of 48 hours. Please keep in mind that some devices have a minimum exposure time that exceeds this period.
  3. If a short-term test (with duration ranging from 2 to 4 days) is performed, it is very important that the house remains closed (all windows and doors remain closed beyond being used for normal entry and exit) for at least 12 hours before the test is begun and throughout the entire testing period. Additionally, all exhaust fans should remain off.
  4. Any test should include method(s) to prevent or detect interference. This includes safeguarding testing conditions and the device that is used.
  5. In situations where the house has an active radon-reduction system, ensure that the vent fan is operating properly. If there is a problem with the system, it should be repaired before the test is completed.
  6. Radon Testing should be conducted in the lowest level that is currently used.

Should You Test Your Home?

For those of you thinking about having your home tested but are not sure it is necessary, I have compiled a list of situations where a radon test is a good idea:

  • If you are thinking about putting your home on the market
  • If no test has been conducted in the past two years
  • If the items of the EPA checklist were not met
  • If you have renovated or altered your house recently
  • If an occupant plans to live in a lower level of the house than was last tested (such as a basement)
  • If the house is in an area where high radon levels are commonly seen (see the Radon Gas Map for more information)
  • A buyer may also ask for an updated test if the local government requires disclosure of radon information

Myths & Facts About Radon Gas

Beneath each Myth is a Fact waiting to be uncovered.  Click a myth and find out the real answer!


MYTH: Scientists are not sure that radon is a problem.

FACT:

Some scientists dispute the precise number of deaths that are caused by radon. However, all the major health organizations (like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the American Lung Association, and the American Medical Association) agree that radon is responsible for thousands of preventable deaths every year. This is especially true among smokers since the risk to smokers is much greater than to non-smokers.


MYTH: Testing for radon is difficult, time-consuming, and expensive for homeowners.

FACT:

Radon testing is easy and inexpensive.


MYTH: The devices used to test for radon are not reliable and are difficult to find.

FACT:

Reliable testing devices are available from qualified radon testers and companies.


MYTH: Homes with radon problems are impossible to fix.

FACT:

There are simple solutions to radon problems in homes. Hundreds of thousands of homeowners have already fixed radon problems. Radon levels can be lowered for as little as $800.


MYTH: Radon affects only certain kinds of homes.

FACT:

It is true that house construction can affect radon levels. However, radon can be a problem in homes of all types, including old and new homes, drafty and well-insulated homes, as well as homes with and without basements. Other contributing factors include local geology, construction materials, and how the home was built.


MYTH: Radon is only a problem in certain parts of the country.

FACT:

It is true that the severity of radon problems does vary from area-to-area, but homes with high radon levels have been found in every state. The only way to know your radon level is to test.


MYTH: A neighbor's test result is a good indication of whether your home has a problem.

FACT:

The only way to know if your home has a radon problem is to test it. Radon levels can vary greatly from home-to-home.


MYTH: It's difficult to sell homes where radon problems have been discovered.

FACT:

If radon problems have been fixed, home sales have not been blocked or hindered. The added protection is sometimes a good selling point.


MYTH: I've lived in my home for so long. It doesn't make sense to take action now.

FACT:

Even if you have lived with a radon problem for years, you will still reduce the risk of lung cancer when you reduce radon levels.


MYTH: Short-term tests can't be used for making a decision about whether to fix your home.

FACT:

A short-term test, followed by a second short-term test, can be used to decide whether to fix your home. However, the closer the average of your two short-term tests is to 4 pCi/L, the less certain you can be about whether your year-round average is above or below that level. Keep in mind that radon levels below 4 pCi/L still pose some risk. Radon levels can be reduced in most homes to 2 pCi/L or below.


For more information about radon gas and how I test for it, contact me via phone or email.


Detecting Radon Gas In Your Home


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