In some geological areas Real Estate Agents will recommend that radon detection and reporting be carried out by the buyers of property. Radon reporting is a service that we provide, as an additional or stand-alone service. In common with most other inspection service providers, radon inspection is not included in home inspections unless specifically asked for and agreed.
What is Radon?
For an explanation of radon we need look no further than the government’s EPA website, as follows:
Radon is a naturally occurring gas, produced by the break down of uranium in the soil. Radon is harmless in low concentrations, for example outside. However, if radon is allowed to build up indoors it can pose a serious health risk for inhabitants of the building. Public Health England have linked the inhilation of radon and its subsequent damage to tissue, to lung cancer.
Radon is measured in Becquerels per cubic meter. Public Health England identifies 200bq per cubic metre, as the ‘Action Level’. Therefore, they recommend that remediation is required for any radon reading of 200 bqm3 or above. They identify 100 bq/m3 as the desireable ‘Target Level’, following remediation. via www.EPA.gov Radon Page
How can Radon Affect Homes?
Radon can accumulate in some buildings. It is formed underground rises in the cracks between rock strata, and in some aeas can seep out from the soil. If there are any microscopic cracks in the floor it can continue to rise, and find its way inside houses. Many floors also have openings for pipse and drains etc., and these can also provide a pathway into homes.
Building materials and water extracted from wells, are just two of many other sources of radon, but are much less important.
Once in, it tends to get stay inside, because the air within a buildings is very often just a bit lighter than the air outside, and the pressure inside is also lower, so there is no driving force to push it out. The effect is most marked in houses which have a low rate of ventilation air changes. However, there are many other factors which will affect radon levels, so prediction is unreliable, and the only reliable way to know for sure, in radon affected areas, is to monitor for it and detect the actual radon radiation present in a property.
Would I Know if there was Radon in my Home?
No. There is no way that humans can sense its presence.
It is an element which is chemically inert, and it has no smell, no color, and no taste.
Both new and mature homes can be affected.
How is it Detected?
Radon is detected by leaving a small radiation detection device, or perhaps several of these devices, in different places, and leaving them for at least 2 days to accumulate data over time. These are provided, and set-up in places in the house by a home inspection service, where a radon radiation detection expert believes from his or her experience, will show the highest readings, if radon is found at all.
The type of very low level radiation detector used is known as a passive detector. The detector used usually, is made up of a small plastic disk which contains a lens. As air flows into the detector, any radon present is known to produce tiny indentations on the lens surface. These are then analysed under a microscope in special laboratory conditions, to derive the concentration of any radon gas present.
So I can Do One Test and if Radon is not Found, I am Safe?
This is a good question. The excerpt copied below, is perhaps the best explanation
When an existing cellar is being converted into a useable basement, it is not appropriate to carry out tests prior to the conversion as these will not be representative of the radon levels after conversion. Altering the heating, ventilation and wall linings will all affect how much gas is drawn into and trapped within a basement, so even if low levels of radon are present in a draughty, unused cellar, once converted the levels may increase significantly. via www.HealthVermont.gov’s Radon Page
In consideration of the above, once radon has been found, further checks need to be made by a specialist radon home inspector each time structural changes are made to the house.
Still Not Sure You Understand Why Radon is a Danger to Health?
Radon is effectively a radioactive dust, in the air we breathe in our homes. The dust is damaging to health because when inhaled it is in our airways. While there it emits radiation that can damage the interior surfaces of our lungs. This risk factor, like the damage caused by smoking, raises the risk of lung cancer.
As we all go about our lives we are continually being exposed to a low-level of radiation. This is absolutely inevitable and for most people does not create any ill-health. But, with exposure to large amounts of radiation, negative health effects become gradually more common, for most people this is roughly in proportion to the level of dose and how long exposure takes place. This is why it makes good sense to discover whether a home you want to buy, suffers from high radon gas radioactivity.
In common with mold inspections and reporting , radon reports can recommend remediation work, which when completed will reduce lung disease.
When is a Radon Survey Essential?
You can get an idea as to how concerned you should be about radon in your house by learning about the geology of the site and its radon potential, which is reported during standard general inspections preoccupation, which recommend buying a Radon Inspection Report. If your house is in an area with a high potential for radon, then chances are that your house may have an indoor radon problem. However, as we have discussed, the way a house is built can increase the risk. Even in areas of low radon potential, some houses can have more unhealthy radon levels than their neighbours. For example, a more mature home may have open fires, and higher rate of ventilation than a newer one. So, we suggest that you look out for radon risk area maps online, and if a radon risk is shown, consider strongly commissioning a radon survey. Perversely, reducing air leaks to save energy as often recommended in a home energy audit, can raise radon levels.
If in doubt call us! Go back to your local city page and call us using that phone number to get a local service quote.
Sources of Information
Scientists evaluate the radon potential of an area and create a radon potential map by using a variety of data. These data include the uranium or radium content of the soils and underlying rocks and the permeability and moisture content of the soils. Usually maps of these factors are not available. But, all is not lost! There are other indirect sources of information about these factors, such as geological maps, maps of extrapolated surface radioactivity, and soil maps, can also be used.