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October 27, 2020

Radon: It's back


Back when I bought my first and only house in 1983, radon was a big deal.

Sometimes a sale was contingent on the radon level inside a house.

Like most things, it mattered until it didn't: by the end of the 80s nobody cared.

Now radon levels have returned as an issue.

Last week the Wall Street Journal featured the 2020 edition of the radon problem in an article, excerpts from which appear below.


Testing Your Home for Radon

It doesn't take a super sleuth to detect an invisible hazard possibly lurking in your home: radon.

A variety of tests exist but their effectiveness varies, depending on the type of test and how it is used.

Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas released from the ground.

About 1 in 15 homes test high for radon in interior air, and radon is, behind smoking, the second most common cause of lung cancer, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

Initially, you can buy a long-term radon testing kit, advises Tommy Bowles, a radon expert with the EPA.

A detector remains undisturbed in a lower-level living space for 90 days, then is mailed to a lab for analysis. 

If test results put radon levels at or above 4 picocuries per liter of air, you should have a certified professional perform a test to ensure accuracy.

Professional radon mitigators typically install soil-depressurization systems.

Techniques and costs vary based on the type of foundation the house sits on (basement, concrete slab, or crawl space).

A pipe is inserted into a layer of aggregate or porous material underneath the house.

Many systems have fans that exhaust the air out from under the house into the pipe, which then vents the gas above the home’s roofline.

"The most important message is that we want consumers to test," Mr. Bowles says. "We recommend every two years. Radon can fluctuate year to year."

Also test after major home-improvement projects that disrupt the earth around the house, especially one that converts a basement into living space, he adds.

Many state and local health departments offer residents free radon test kits.

They are also available for purchase online, at home-improvement stores, or through the National Radon Program Services at Kansas State University.

"The D-I-Y tests are great," says EPA's Bowles.

They offer a cost-effective approach for initial screening.

Long-term tests (defined as 90 days or longer) are the most accurate, he notes, because they detect fluctuations in radon levels over time.

When buying or selling a home, contact your state radon program to find a qualified professional to test for radon and/or fix any issues.

In states that don't regulate radon professionals, ask the contractor for proof of proficiency or certification.

October 27, 2020 at 02:01 PM | Permalink


Radon never left. It is just the hype that has returned.

The human body cannot distinguish between excitement and fear. The press know this. They cannot reliably spark excitement in their audience, so they spark fear.

Posted by: antares | Oct 28, 2020 3:25:59 AM

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