Independent Home Inspections & Consulting LLC
IHIC offers radon testing for those interested in having their home tested for radon levels.
EPA-issued Radon Measurement (RMP) protocols:
You can rely on our radon testing procedures and the lab used to process the results to be compliant with EPA-issued Radon Measurement Protocols (RMP).
The minimum measurement period per RMP is 48 hours. After which, I will retrieve the test canisters and deliver them to the lab for processing. Your results will be sent to you within 24 hours of retrieval.
Since radon can be a health issue, I offer radon testing at reasonable rates.
- $100 when included as part of a home inspection.
- $160 for radon testing only.
To ensure accurate testing please note the following measurement conditions:
· To the extent reasonable, all windows, outside vents, and external doors should be closed (except for normal entrance and exit) for 12 hours prior to and during the measurement period. The measurement period is 48 hours.
· Window fans and high-volume attic fans and should not be operated 12 hours before or during measurements.
· Normal furnace or central air conditioner operation is permitted.
· Tests should not be conducted if severe storms with high winds (greater than 30 mph) or rapidly changing barometric pressure are predicted during the measurement period.
Accuracy of radon testing in real estate transactions:
To achieve accurate results, you must rely on the occupants of the home you are testing to comply with the radon measurement conditions. Industry surveys show that up to 30% of the radon tests in real estate transactions are subject to some ventilation. You may want to drive by the home once or twice during testing to ensure all doors and windows are kept closed; especially the room/area where the testing canisters are placed.
Useful Information About Radon
What is it?
Radon is a naturally occurring inert (not chemically active) radioactive gas formed from the natural radioactive decay of radium and uranium found in the soil. It is colorless and odorless, therefore you cannot see it, smell it, or feel it. In the U.S. radon is measured in units call picoCuries per liter of air (pCi/L).
Where is it?
Radon is everywhere. It is in all homes, businesses and schools and even in the open air outside. Therefore the issue is not the existence of radon, but rather the concentration level of radon. The higher the concentration levels the higher the health risk.
How does radon get into the house?
All houses leak air. As the air in a house warms, it rises to leak out the attic openings and around the upper floor windows. This creates a small suction at the lowest level of the house. This suction pulls the radon out of the soil through minute openings that are common to every house. Since a house is an enclosed space, concentrations of radon will accumulate and the radon level will rise.
What are the health risks?
An increased risk of lung cancer is the only known health effect associated with exposures to elevated radon levels. Radon does not cause any short-term health effects, such as shortness of breath, coughing, headaches or fever.
Your chances of getting lung cancer from radon depend mostly on:
· Whether you are a smoker, have ever smoked or are exposed to high levels of secondhand smoke. Smokers have a significantly higher risk of developing radon-induced lung cancer.
· The amount of radon present is in your home or workplace.
· The amount of time you spend in area with elevated radon levels.
What are safe levels?
There is no definitive answer to this question and estimates vary from expert to expert as a well as country to country. Some say no level of exposure is safe. Of course it is unrealistic to achieve zero levels of concentration considering there is on average about 0.35 pCi/L of radon in the outside air we breathe. In addition, there are no federal or state standards mandating radon mitigation. However, the EPA does provide a guideline for residential housing. It recommends radon mitigation action be taken when the radon level is at 4 or more pCi/L.
The EPA’s action level of 4 pCi/L was determined, not by scientific tests, but rather by an extrapolation of the health data of uranium miners. Some say the EPA is too extreme. That is why the guide lines for safe low level radon varies so much (see table below). It is safe to say that at the very least; radon levels below 20 pCi/L do not pose an immediate health risk. Also, any thing below 4 pCi/L requires no action while anything above 20 pCi/L does require action. That leaves the 4 to 20 pCi/L range in question as to safe level. The answer depends on who you chose to believe is correct.
To illustrate the point and help put this into perspective, I have included the guidelines for safe radon levels as defined by other organizations and countries below:
What are the predicted indoor levels in SE Michigan?
The EPA has created a map of predicted average indoor radon screening levels to help national, state, and local organizations in targeting their resources. These maps are NOT intended to be used to determine if a home in a given zone should be tested for radon. Any home could have a radon problem, including homes in areas with a low radon potential. I have provided a list of the EPA’s predicted indoor screening levels for the counties I serve below:
Counties that have a predicted average indoor radon screening level:
How serious is it?
There is no question that high levels of radon are a serious health risk. By high I mean radon in the hundreds of picoCuries. However, the effects of low level radon are subject to debate. Because of conflicting information, and the lack or universal agreement among scientists, the seriousness of low level radon will have to be something you will need to determine for yourself. In the U.S.many people take the “play it safe” position and accept the EPA’s worst case scenarios. That means even low levels are serious.
What can be done about high levels of Radon?
Any home can be fitted with a radon mitigation system that will reduce the levels to below 4 pCi/L. This typically involves venting air from the foundation to the exterior of the house. If your home has a sump pit then typically it is a simple matter of making modifications to the sump pit to vent air as well as water. If you do not have a sump pit then a suction pit will need to be installed. There are a number of contractors who are certified and licensed to do such work. Costs will vary based on conditions and contractor; however, the average cost will range between $800 and $1,500.
It is important to note that a given level of radon does not affect everyone the same. If you have one or more of the elevated risk factors below, you may be more susceptible to the affects of radon and should be more concerned about radon exposure:
· If you are a smoker, have been a smoker or exposed to a lot of secondhand smoke.
· If your family has a history of lung cancer.
Also, homes that have a dirt floor basement or are built over a dirt crawl may have increased radon levels.