If you’re a prospective homebuyer, you’ve probably heard warnings about radon exposure in your potential new home, especially if you’re looking at a place with a finished basement or are planning to spend a good amount of time underground. But what exactly is the danger of radon, and how can you mitigate it? Here’s everything you need to know about this mysterious, dangerous gas.
What is Radon?
Radon is a naturally occurring, invisible, and odorless gas that comes from the deposits of uranium in a home’s surrounding soil. Radon can enter your home through cracks in your foundation floor or walls, through well water, and through openings around floor drains, pipes, or sump pumps. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates as many as one in 15 households in the country has elevated radon levels.
What Harm Can Radon Cause?
Any level of radon exposure in your home carries significant risks. In fact, exposure to radon is the second leading cause of cancer in the United States. Radon can be inhaled into the lungs, where it undergoes radioactive decay and can damage lung tissue. Thus, it’s important to get tested for radon regularly and take immediate action if a high amount is discovered.
What Can I Do About Radon in My Home?
You can buy a radon testing kit for as little as 11.50, and you can also enlist a certified radon testing professional. An electronic radon detector that will continuously monitor the radon levels in your home is also recommended. If your radon level is deemed excessively high (above 4.0 picoCuries per liter), then you’ll need to hire a radon contractor, who will design a mitigation system that will draw the radon gas from underneath your home and safely vent it above the roofline.
What Should I Keep in Mind About Radon When Buying a Home?
Don’t take the seller’s word for it that the home is free and clear of any radon contamination—always get the home tested yourself. If a troubling amount of radon is discovered, don’t close on the home until the problem is fixed, and if you can require the seller to inspect the home as a condition of your purchase, all the better.