Is your home one of the 40% with higher radon levels? Here's how to find out...

With 40 percent of Pennsylvania homes having higher levels of radon than the Environmental Protection Agency considers acceptable, the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) encourages Pennsylvanians to perform a simple test for this known human carcinogen.

“Because of the state’s geology, Pennsylvanians are at risk of exposure to high radon levels,” said DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell. “Fortunately, testing is as simple as one, two, three: Pick up an inexpensive test at a hardware store, open it and set it on a surface in your basement, and in a few days mail the test to the lab. It’s an easy New Year’s resolution to keep and important to your health and the health of your loved ones.”

Radon is an odorless, colorless radioactive gas that occurs naturally from the breakdown of uranium in soil and rocks and enters homes through cracks in the foundation or other openings. High levels of radon tend to be found in basements, but the gas can be found anywhere in the home.

Winter is a good time to test for radon, because doors and windows are generally closed, providing more accurate results. If you’d rather not use a do-it-yourself test kit, hiring a qualified radon professional to conduct a test is another option. 

The EPA action level is 4 picocuries per liter (pCi/L) of air. If your home’s radon level is higher than this, the Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Surgeon General recommend taking action to lower it. 

A professionally installed radon reduction system, with a vent pipe and exhaust fan, will help prevent the radon from entering your home and discharge it outside. Radon monitoring isn’t a one-and-done, noted Secretary McDonnell. “If your test results are under 4 pCi/L, we recommend retesting anytime home renovation or excavating work is done,” he said. “If your test results are above 4 pCi/L and you have a radon reduction system installed, retesting every two years is recommended.”

Compared with the associated risk of lung cancer, radon reduction systems are very affordable, generally in the price range of other common home improvements. Having a system installed will also make the future sale of your home easier.  

If you’re building a new home, DEP recommends installing a passive radon system during construction. There is no reliable way to test the ground in advance for radon, and the cost of installing the radon system during construction should be less than installing one after the fact.

For people buying or selling a home, Pennsylvania’s Real Estate Seller Disclosure Act requires sellers to disclose the results of any known radon testing. The DEP website lists radon testing options for real estate transactions. 

Pennsylvania law requires all professional radon testers, mitigators, and laboratories to be certified by DEP, which provides a public list of certified radon service providers. People can also obtain a hard copy or verify a company’s certification by calling 800-23RADON (800-237-2366).

January is nNational Radon Action Month. DEP is posting daily radon tips on Facebook and Twitter and airing a public service announcement on TV and radio. A helpful video with radon testing instructions is provided on the DEP website.

Resolve to make 2017 a safer, healthier year. Test your home for radon, and share this information with your friends and neighbors.
 


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