100 Real Estate and Relocation Tips in 100 Days (Day 85)
Radon is an odorless, colorless radioactive gas that can enter a home. Most of Colorado is considered a high risk area for Radon, which occurs from the natural radium and uranium found in Colorado soil. Estimates of lung cancer deaths associated with Radon range as 21,000 in the United States. The combination of high concentrations of Radon coupled with tobacco smoking dramatically increases the risk of lung cancer. In the United States, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has set a measurement of 4 picocuries per liter (4 pCi/l) as the maximum amount that does not pose a health hazard. Radon amounts above 4.0 pCi/l pose a health risk, and mitigation measures are advised. Obviously, the higher the amount of Radon present, the greater the risk to dwelling occupants.
As a homebuyer, how should you proceed with this potential risk? First, you have the legal opportunity, provided in all Colorado contracts to buy real estate, to have testing performed to determine the presence of Radon. (You have the legal opportunity, defined by the contract, to have all manner of inspections and testing performed on any property you contract to purchase, of which Radon testing is just one of many possible inspections.) Most certified home inspectors can perform radon gas testing, using sophisticated electronic measuring devices. The cost of testing is usually $75 -$150 dollars, and a written report is provided. All home buyers should have this test performed during the contractual inspection period.
If the home test under 4.0 pCi/l, there is no need to perform mitigation. Mitigation should be performed if the amount present is greater than 4.0 pCi/l. Mitigation can be relatively simple in most homes. An EPA certified mitigation contractor can install a sub-slab ventilation system, which equalizes the pressure in the house, preventing Radon gas buildup. At times, more complex measures must be taken, but seldom is the cost to mitigate prohibitive. The cost to mitigate is a negotiable item, however, the seller is usually in a weak position, as most buyers will not buy a home with high levels of Radon gas.