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Radon Has Been Found In Homes All Over the U.S.
Radon is a radioactive gas that has been found in homes all over the United States. It
comes from the natural breakdown of uranium in soil, rock and water and gets into the
air you breathe. Radon typically moves up through the ground to the air above and
into your home through cracks and other holes in the foundation. Radon can also
enter your home through well water. Your home can trap radon inside.
Any home can have a radon problem. This means new and old homes, well-sealed and
drafty homes, and homes with or without basements. In fact, you and your family are
most likely to get your greatest radiation exposure at home. That is where you spend
most of your time.
Nearly 1 out of every 15 homes in the United States is estimated to have an elevated
radon level (4 pCi/L or more). Elevated levels of radon gas have been found in homes
in your state. Contact your state radon office for information about radon in your
EPA and the Surgeon General Recommend That You Test Your Home
Testing is the only way to know if you and your family are at risk from radon. EPA
and the Surgeon General recommend testing all homes below the third floor for radon.
You cannot predict radon levels based on state, local, and neighborhood radon
measurements. Do not rely on radon test results taken in other homes in the
neighborhood to estimate the radon level in your home. Homes which are next to each
other can have different radon levels. Testing is the only way to find out what your
home's radon level is.
In some areas, companies may offer different types of radon service agreements.
Some agreements let you pay a one-time fee that covers both testing and radon
mitigation, if needed.
If you are thinking of buying a home, you may decide to accept an earlier test
result from the seller or ask the seller for a new test to be conducted by a qualified
radon tester. Before you accept the seller's test, you should determine:
* The results of previous testing;
* Who conducted the previous test: the homeowner, a radon professional, or some
* Where in the home the previous test was taken, especially if you may plan to live
in a lower level of the home. For example, the test may have been taken on the first
floor. However, if you want to use the basement as living space, test there; and
* What, if any, structural changes, alterations, or changes in the heating,
ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system have been made to the house since
the test was done. Such changes may affect radon levels.
If you accept the seller's test, make sure that the test followed the Radon Testing
If you decide that a new test is needed, discuss it with the seller as soon as possible.
If you decide to use a qualified radon tester, contact your state radon office to
obtain a copy of their approved list of radon testing companies. See also
If the Home Has Not Yet Been Tested for Radon...
Make sure that a radon test is done as soon as possible. Consider including provisions
in the contract specifying:
* Where the test will be located;
* Who should conduct the test;
* What type of test to do;
* When to do the test;
* How the seller and the buyer will share the test results and test costs (if
* When radon mitigation measures will be taken and who will pay for them.
Make sure that the test is done in the lowest level of the home that could be used
regularly. This means the lowest level that you are going to use as living space
whether it is finished or unfinished. A state or local radon official or qualified radon
tester can help you make some of these decisions.
If you decide to finish or renovate an unfinished area of the home in the future, a
radon test should be taken before starting the project and after the project is
finished. Generally, it is less expensive to install a radon-reduction system before (or
during) renovations rather than afterwards.
In many cases, home buyers and sellers may decide to have the radon test done by a
qualified radon tester who knows the proper conditions, test devices, and guidelines
for obtaining a reliable radon test result. They can also:
* Evaluate the home and recommend a testing approach designed to make sure you
get reliable results;
* Explain how proper conditions can be maintained during the radon test;
* Emphasize to occupants of a home that a reliable test result depends on their
cooperation. Interference with, or disturbance of, the test or closed-house conditions
will invalidate the test result;
* Analyze the data and report measurement results; and
* Provide an independent test.
Your state radon office may also have information about qualified radon testers
certification requirements. See also ww.epa.gov/radon/radontest.html