Radon Gas - the second leading cause of lung cancer in the US.
Radon gas is created when uranium in the soil decays. The gas then seeps through any access point into a home such as cracks in the foundation or basement floor, drain tile and sump, or uncovered soils in crawl spaces. The gas can collect in basements and other low-lying, closed areas. The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has set 4 pico curies per liter as an action level. Professional correction to lower the radon level is recommended for homes at or over this level.
Radon has been found in homes throughout Minnesota and particularly in Minneapolis, St. Paul and suburbs. Certain areas are more susceptible than others, but no location is immune. The ONLY way to tell for sure is to have a home tested. SMOKERS see info below. Nearly
all the Twin Cities area counties are in the EPA Zone 1 category (highest risk potential),
however, it is not possible to predict radon levels from one home to the next. Testing is recommended for all Minnesota homes.
Cancer Survivors against Radon
is a source of further information about the health risks of radon.
If you're buying or selling a home, radon can be a important issue. The EPA recommends every house be tested. If test results already exist, make sure they are recent or that the home has not been significantly renovated since the test was performed. If in doubt, get a new test done. Minnesota home sellers must disclose specific and general information about radon tests including the following:
1. whether a radon test or tests have occurred on the property;
2. the most current records and reports pertaining to radon concentrations in the dwelling;
3. a description of any radon concentrations, mitigation, or remediation;
4. information regarding the radon mitigation system, including system description and documentation, if such system has been installed in the dwelling; and
5. a radon warning statement (written by the Minnesota Department of Health)
The radon warning statement is as follows:
“The Minnesota Department of Health strongly recommends that ALL homebuyers have an indoor radon test performed prior to purchase or taking occupancy, and recommends having the radon levels mitigated if elevated radon concentrations are found. Elevated radon concentrations can easily be reduced by a qualified, certified, or licensed, if applicable, radon mitigator.
Every buyer of any interest in residential real property is notified that the property may present exposure to dangerous levels of indoor radon gas that may place the occupants at risk of developing radon-induced lung cancer. Radon, a Class A human carcinogen, is the leading cause of lung cancer in nonsmokers and the second leading cause overall. The seller of any interest in residential real property is required to provide the buyer with any information on radon test results of the dwelling.”
Radon testing is NOT required, but the disclosures and warning statement are required to be presented to the buyer PRIOR to signing a purchase agreement.
The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) recommends that testing be done by a MDH listed radon measurement professional. Information on radon disclosures in real estate transactions.
We offer radon tests. (continuous radon monitor for 48 hours). Roger Hankey is a National Radon Proficiency Program and MDH listed radon measurement professional NRPP ID 105728RT. NRPP consumer checklist for radon testing. Not all inspection firms follow the NRPP protocols for quality assurance (annual instrument calibration and performance tests), and not all firms have certified measurement professionals to conduct the tests. We recommend you hire only NRPP and MDH listed individuals for this important service.
HOME OWNERS: If you will be selling your home in the next year or so, it would be wise to conduct a LONG TERM test prior to listing your home for sale. An ideal long term test is done for a full year, to average out the daily and seasonal variations in indoor radon levels. These low cost tests, known as Alpha Trac, are available from Hennepin County Health Department and other county health departments and are done on a do it yourself basis.
Individuals holding a Residential Measurement Provider for Standard and Analytical Services have demonstrated knowledge of U.S. EPA radon measurement protocols for the placement and retrieval of radon measurement devices. They have also demonstrated knowledge of the proper interpretation of results obtained in residential settings. Furthermore, these individuals possess and analyze radon measurement devices. Depending upon the specific device, this may allow for rapid provision of test results. The testing professional may also be able to characterize trends in radon concentration and determine unusual conditions arising from such influences as weather changes or occupant tampering of a test. To obtain this additional classification, individuals follow strict quality assurance and quality control guidelines and device specific protocols, and calibrate each instrument annually.
If radon levels are elevated, mitigation options are:
Sub-slab suction - to remove radon from below the basement floor.
Air to Air Heat Exchanger to ventilate the house (may not lower radon to below 4.0 piCu/l)
Both options are readily installed, and cost about $1200 - $2000.
A secondary benefit of sub-slab suction systems is cost effective basement dehumidification.
If you are a tobacco smoker, your lung cancer risk factor from smoking multiplies with the cancer risk factor from radon. Therefore, smokers should ALWAYS get radon tests when purchasing a home. For more information, visit the EPA web site on radon at http://www.epa.gov/radon.
For information specific to Minnesota, Minnesota Dept. of Health website.