Don’t Expose Yourself to the Possibility of Lung Cancer
What is Radon?
Second only to smoking, Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States and in Maryland. It is the leading cause of lung cancer in non-smokers. Radon is a gas that has no smell, no color, and can’t be seen. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends testing all homes for radon and fixing homes if their levels are higher than 4 picocuries per liter (pCi/L).
Any home may have a radon problem.
Radon is a radioactive gas. It comes from the natural decay of uranium that is found in nearly all soils. It typically moves up through the ground to the air above and into your home through cracks and other holes in the foundation. Your home traps radon inside, where it can build up. Any home may have a radon problem. This means new and old homes, well-sealed and drafty homes, and homes with or without basements. As it is a gas, it is continually seeking a lower air pressure area; basically, moving from the soil to the air. Just like water always tries to find the easiest path downhill, radon tries to find the easiest path out of the soil and into the air.
Radon from soil gas is the main cause of radon problems. Sometimes radon enters the home through well water. In a small number of homes, the building materials can give off radon, too. However, building materials rarely cause radon problems by themselves.
content courtesy EPA.gov
Do you need a Radon Test?
If you are in the process of purchasing a home, your loan agreement may require a radon test. Some loan types, such as VA and FHA, require radon testing for loan approval. In addition, if your test results in levels over 4.0 picocuries per liter (pCi/L), your approval may hinge on the installation of a radon mitigation system. Some counties in Maryland, such as Montgomery County, require a radon test as a condition of completing the sale.
Since there are many reasons that radon levels can change, the EPA recommends that you test for radon periodically, regardless of the results of your initial test. If your test results are low (less than 2 pCi/L), you should test every 2-3 years. For tests higher than 2 pCi/L, testing yearly or more frequently is a good idea.
A passing radon test at one point in time is not a guarantee of a passing test at another period in time. Many factors can affect the results of a radon test. High winds, barometric pressures, temperature, rain, and your home’s construction all play a role in radon readings. Foundation shifts, construction on the home, or changes in the heating/cooling systems can all affect radon levels. Sometimes, changes in the ground far beneath your home can make it easier or harder for radon to enter your home.
You may be asking yourself “What’s the point in testing if radon levels change so much?” While radon levels do change, studies have shown that a radon test is a good way to check your radon levels, as long as you follow closed-house conditions. When closed-house conditions are observed, our radon tests provide an accurate representation of your home’s typical radon levels in about 90% of tests.
Types of Radon Tests
Short-Term Radon Test
Our radon testing is done under short-term closed-house conditions in order to provide the most accurate measurement of your home’s radon exposure. The testing period is a minimum of 48 hours. The home must be prepared for a closed-house test.
- If a mitigation system is in place, it should remain running
- All windows and exterior doors should remain closed during the testing period, with the exception of ingress and egress to the house which should be kept to a minimum.
- The home should maintain normal HVAC operation, but no house or window fans should be run.
- Testing apparatus will be placed on the lowest level of the home, at least 3 feet from windows or doors.
- Testing apparatus should be at least 3 feet from the ground level.
- Testing apparatus should be kept away from a heat source or humidity