Friday, April 3rd, 2015 by Matthew Winslow
Radon gas, a radioactive substance, is found in our soil, water, and even the air we breathe. Radon is also in our homes. The federal Environmental Protection Agency has determined that interior radon levels exceeding 4 pCi/L (picocuries per liter of air) are unsafe. It recommends that radon mitigation techniques be instituted in your home if radon level is confirmed to be 4 picocuries per liter, pCi/L, or higher.
It is estimated that 40% or more of homes in Pennsylvania have four or more picocuries of radon per liter of air (4 pCi/ L). In some parts of PA, 50% or more homes may exceed a safe level. With modifications, most homes can be brought to a safer level of less than 2 pCi/ L.
Radon gas is the second highest cause of lung cancer, after smoking cigarettes. For non-smokers, it is the leading cause of lung cancer. However, the threat of radon can be mitigated. Some radon reduction systems can reduce radon levels in your home by up to 99 percent through relatively simple and economical radon mitigation techniques.
Beginning in the 1980’s with the Radon Protection Act (1984), and the Radon Certification Act (1987), Pennsylvania has demonstrated its concern about radon. Current PA law requires individuals and companies offering radon testing and/or radon mitigation services and the laboratories analyzing radon test kits, to be tested and certified by the state. This radon mitigation Pennsylvania state certification process protects consumers who seek testing and remediation services. The state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has a Bureau of Radiation Protection, which includes a Radon Division. The DEP website includes general information about radon and why testing is the recommended first step in determining whether your home is safe or may need radon mitigation services to reduce the level of radon found in your home.
If you are considering hiring a company to conduct radon testing or you wish to purchase in-home testing kits for your own test, be sure to verify that the company or individual offering radon services has been certified by the state. You can check on-line or contact your local Department of Environmental Protection office to confirm certification. You do not need to be certified to test your own home. But if your result is 4 picocuries per liter or higher, you should obtain professional testing and advice, and a recommendation for radon mitigation, including a specific scope of work, from a radon specialist certified in the proper category. Where your health is concerned, self-help mitigation measures are not recommended.
Although Pennsylvania does not require homeowners to conduct radon testing before sale of a home, it does require sellers to disclose the existence of environmental hazards, including radon, which are known to the seller. If a homeowner is aware of a radon test result, he or she is required to disclose such results to a buyer. The state-approved real estate disclosure statement includes specific questions about radon testing and installation of any radon remediation system.
With more information about radon in the news, potential buyers are more and more likely to include a request for radon results and a demand for radon mitigation as a condition of sale.
In the Philadelphia area, Next Step Environmental Services LLC is an excellent resource for self-testing materials, professional inspections and testing and effective and economical remediation. Next Step is certified for both Radon Testing and Radon Mitigation services. They also offer safe, easy and economical kits for at-home testing including quick results from a state certified laboratory. Contact them at 888-657-2366 (888-65-RADON).