Tag Archives: radon

Home Radon Gas: How to Detect and Use Testing Kits

Radon is a colorless, odorless, tasteless radioactive gas that occurs naturally. It is a chemical element existing as a by-product of the natural decay of uranium, an element in the ground that been around since the earth was formed therefore it is found in low levels everywhere. When radon becomes trapped in buildings, concentrations can increase in indoor air and radon exposure then becomes a concern.

We need to be very much alert that radon is a deadly gas. It is one of the leading cause of lung cancer in the United States, only second to cigarette smoking which is the number one responsible for lung cancer deaths. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Surgeon General have strongly recommended that all residences (except those above the 2nd floor in multi-level buildings) be tested for radon. Needless to say, smokers with high levels of radon in the home has much greater risk of getting lung cancer.

How Radon Gets in Home
Uranium is a radioactive element that decays and forms radium which gives off radon gas, it then travels up through the ground and infiltrates the water and air we breathe. When it reaches the surface of the ground, the gas can go directly into the air where it does not usually do any damage, or it can seep into a building where it collects and causes health problems.

Some parts of the US are more susceptible to radon gas than others. The difference between the higher pressure in the soil around your home’s foundation and the lower air pressure inside your home makes your house act like vacuum, that radon gas gets drawn in through cracks, open seams, holes and just about any openings below the surface of the ground.

Since radon may also presents in well water, it can be released into the air in your home via showering water and other household water uses, though the risk is small compared to the radon amount entered from the soil. For small number of homes, the building materials may also give off radon gas, although they rarely cause problems alone.

Methods to Detect Radon Level
You have to perform a test in order to find out if radon is in a building. That is the only way. The EPA recommends two ways of testing:

Short-Term or Passive Testing – This is the cheapest and quickest way. Depending on the device you choose, they can remain in your home for 2 to 90 days. Charcoal canisters, electret ion chamber, continuous monitors and charcoal liquid scintillation detectors are most commonly used in short term testing. Because radon levels tend to vary from day to day and season to season, a short term test offers a less conclusive evaluation than a long term test. For quickest yet firmer results, do a short term test followed by another passive test as such.

Many types of low cost short term “do it yourself” radon test kits are available in hardware stores and home centers. Make sure to buy a test kit that has passed EPA’s testing program or is state certified. You should see phrase like “Meets EPA Requirements” displayed on the kits. They are quite inexpensive.

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Long Term or Active Testing – This is a more expensive way and the testing kit has to be remained in the home for more than 90 days. There are two types of commonly used test kits: Alpha track and electret detectors. A long term test gives you a reading that is most likely to tell your home’s year round average radon level. Radon gas detectors that monitor gas levels on a continuous basis are also available.

Hire an EPA qualified or state certified radon tester if you prefer, some lenders may require certified test results to close the transaction when buying or selling a home.

How to Use a Radon Test Kit
Always follow the instructions that come with the test kit. Place the radon test kit in the lowest living space of the property. It should be put in a room that is used regularly, but not your kitchen or bathroom. Put the kit at least 20 inches above the floor in a location where it won’t be disturbed. Keep it away from drafts, high heat, high humidity and exterior walls. Leave the kit in place for as long as the package says, do not take away earlier than that. When finished testing, reveal the package, send it to the package specified lab directly. Normally you should receive the results within a couple of weeks.

Note that if you are doing a very short test that lasts only 2-3 days, be sure to close your windows and outside doors at least 12 hours in advance; for longer period of testing, keep the windows and outside doors as much as possible during the test. Keep in mind: Do Not conduct 2 to 3-day passive tests during severe storms or unusually high winds. The results will not be accurate.

Interpreting Test Results
The amount of radon in the air is generally measured in picocuries of radon per liter of air (pCi/l), or may be expressed in Working Levels (WL) sometimes. Based on the EPA standards, amount of radon that is higher than 4 pCi/l or 0.002 WL is considered too high that corrective measures should be taken to fix the problem. If your initial short term test result is higher than 4 pCi/l or 0.002 WL, the EPA recommends that you take a second test to be sure. For a better understanding of the radon levels in your home, taking a long term test is recommended.

Any radon exposure carries some risk, even the levels below EPA set standard. So lower the radon amount sometimes is necessary. This would be in the next hub – Radon Reduction Techniques.

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Author: Jacklyn Chen
Article Source: EzineArticles.com
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Radon Mitigation – Fixing a Radon Problem the Right Way

What needs to be done?

If a home’s radon level is 4 picocuries per liter or more, the EPA recommends a radon mitigation system (sometimes called radon remediation) to be installed.

A common method utilized to reduce the radon level is “sub slab depressurization”.  In this case, a suction point or points are determined and a pipe is inserted through the concrete slab floor.  This pipe is connected to other PVC piping and a fan is positioned on the pipe outside the living area. The fan then draws the radon gas from beneath the home and vents it to the outside.  A radon mitigation system can cost between $900-$2500. 

Choosing a Mitigation Company

A qualified mitigation company is your best choice for installation of a radon mitigation system.

In many states, these companies or individuals are certified by a state regulatory agency such as the DEP (Department of Environmental Protection).  If this is not true in your state, then you should look for a qualified mitigator who is NEHA (National Environmental Health Association) certified.  When choosing a radon mitigation company, you should ask for their state or NEHA certification number, if they offer free estimates, and a warranty on the system.

Typically, the mitigation company will visit the home to determine the best configuration of the system and the size of the fan for the type of foundation the house is built on.  An estimate of cost for a system can then be determined.  After choosing the contractor, plan on 1-2 days for installation. 

As always, beware of the lowest bidder.  Check for references, job examples, and the amount of time the contractor has been in business.

Life After Radon Mitigation

It is recommended that a radon mitigation system be tested after installation. A test may be performed after the system has been operational for 24 hours or more.  A short-term test is usually used for the initial test. In some cases, the estimate given by the contractor may include the retest by a professional company or radon test kits.

A follow-up test is suggested every year to monitor the system’s continued effectiveness.

Arick Amspacker is a certified radon technician and home inspector. Over the years he has taught continuing education courses for Realtors and many first time home buyers seminars, as well as a Community College course on inspections and radon. His website http://www.homeradontest.com sells various types of inexpensive, easy to use radon testing devices, and http://www.radonreporter.com offers a resource for radon information.

Author: Arick Amspacker
Article Source: EzineArticles.com

Whole House Air Purifiers And Radon Gas – Are Air Purifiers Effective At Getting The Gas Out

Radon gas can seep in through your crawl space or basement. Unfortunately, you can’t tell if it is in your home without a test because it is odorless and invisible. It is found naturally in soil and rock in many areas of the country, and many people are being slowly poisoned by it without even knowing. To be safe, you should contact your local government agency and ask for a testing kit. Most states have them and give them away for free. If the test comes back positive, it is crucial that you buy an air purifier. A whole house air purifier is one of the best defenses in the battle against radon.

If you discover a radon gas problem in your home, a whole house air purifier is the way to go. They’re located in your basement or crawlspace, away from the main living areas of the home. A fan vents the radon-rich air out from the basement before it can seep into the rest of the house. Metal ducts pump the air from the fan of the air purifier to the outside of your home. An extra, useful step is to seal up any cracks and gaps where air can get in. By combining a good air purifier system with some diligent sealing, you’ll practically eliminate any radon threat.

An added benefit to a whole house unit being in the basement is the fact that you won’t hear it running. They do tend to be loud, so this is a great advantage many people don’t even think about when they’re considering buying one.

Whole house air purifiers have extra benefits beyond venting out radon gas. They can remove many other troubling issues as well. With the use of optional filters such as heap or carbon, mold spores, dust, pet dander, smoke fumes and pollen can all be captured and eliminated too. If you are prone to allergies, have pets, or just want to breath cleaner air, buying a whole house air purifier will be a decision well made.

Whole house air purifiers vs. room units

But what about smaller, less expensive models? Granted, the price of whole house air purifiers can be two to three times the cost (or more) of single room air purifiers. The problem however, is if you’ve got air quality problems in your home, cleaning the air in one room will rarely solve the issue. So you wind up having to purchase several individual purifiers to do the job of one whole house unit. Now the cost issue becomes a moot point.

On top of that, a whole house purifier moves the air with metal ducting, so you really don’t see it. Stand-alone purifiers are often ugly and don’t blend well with your rooms décor. So unless you live in a really small space, a whole house purifier is really the way to go.

So if you’ve got radon problems or even something less serious, take a genuine look at a whole house air purifier system. They can be purchased and installed for around $1000.00 in most markets and they represent money well spent.

Ryan MacPhee is a professional contractor, real estate investor and part time writer with over twenty years of experience. You can read more about his experience with air purifier systems here [http://www.myairpurifier.net%20]. Check out some of his mortgage financing tips and techniques here [http://www.allaboutmortgagecalculators.com/Mortgage_Calculator_Confusion.html]. Have a look here if you’re interested in home remodeling ideas [http://www.home-remodeling-tips-and-tricks.com/What_Are_The_Costs_Of_Remodeling_A_Home.html].

Author: Ryan MacPhee
Article Source: EzineArticles.com
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Radon – The Invisible Killer

Radon is a colorless, tasteless, naturally occurring radioactive gas found in soil and rock that is a by-product of decaying uranium. You might be thinking, I’ve heard of uranium, don’t they make bombs from that? Well, yes they do, but uranium occurs naturally in rocks all around the globe. Some areas have a natural propensity to have higher concentrations of uranium than others.

Why radon is dangerous

We are all walking around with a bit of radiation in our bodies, and radon is by far the largest contributor to a person’s overall amount of radiation they are carrying around. Breathing high doses of radon has been scientifically proven to cause lung cancer. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, radon could be the second most frequent cause of lung cancer, after cigarette smoking causing 21,000 lung cancer deaths per year in the United States. Radon-induced lung cancer ranks as the 6th leading cause of cancer deaths overall. Other forms of cancer may be related to radon exposure. Studies are underway to see if there exists a relationship between radon exposure and leukemia.

Where radon is

Remember radon gas is formed as a by-product of soil containing granite or shale (the two of which carry larger than average amounts of uranium). But we’re talking very small amounts. On average, every square mile of surface soil, to a depth of 6 inches, contains only 1 gram of radium which is responsible for releasing radon into the atmosphere. Worldwide, the amount of radon varies greatly and is variable within a given region and even from room to room in a house.

Is radon in my home?

Radon exits the ground and can seep into your home through cracks and holes in the foundation. Radon gas can also contaminate well water. We know that radon concentrations are usually higher in areas near major fault lines so in Southern California we should be aware and take the proper precautions.

Knowing the characteristics of radon gas should help protect you and your family from exposure. First, radon gas being heavier than air tends to settle in low lying areas. With adequate ventilation, radon gas cannot become concentrated to a level to cause harm. On the other hand, in enclosed areas such as inside buildings, basements and crawl spaces, radon gas levels can become harmful. Second, if you smoke, stop! The effects of radon exposure in people that smoke is synergistic; i.e. the effect of smoking coupled with higher than average levels of radon exposure is greater than the sum of the two parts measured separately.

The EPA claims that 1 in 15 U.S. homes has radon levels above the recommended guideline. Their guideline of what is acceptable is roughly equivalent to receiving 200 chest x-rays over one’s lifetime. Their current recommendation (and that of the US Surgeon General) is that all homes be monitored for radon levels.

How to test for radon

Home kits are available in most home centers but it is claimed that their results might not be reliable. A better option would be to hire a professional home inspector with experience in radon testing. Professional tests are reliable in determining if your home has areas in it where radon levels are above the threshold set forth by the EPA. The tests are non-invasive and begin by placing a measurement device near the floor on the lower level of the home. Additional tests may be recommended by the inspector if you have any granite surfaces in your home, like a kitchen countertop. Other than placing the collection devices where recommended, nothing is done. There are some specific instructions that you must follow regarding the testing site(s) like keeping the windows and doors shut as much as possible. Testing may have to be postponed if your area is experiencing high winds or a pending storm, or if humidity levels are high (all of which may adversely affect the test results).

The inspector will return in 2-7 days to collect the devices after which time they are sent to a lab for analysis. Results are usually available shortly thereafter.

How to remove radon

The EPA recommends you use mitigation (control) techniques to reduce indoor radon if levels in your home are above the recommended threshold. Mitigation methods include adding positive pressure ventilation in your home which effectively creates a pressure differential (higher pressure in your home, gas cannot flow in). Sealing all floor penetrations to help prevent the gas from seeping into your home from below is also a good idea. Be advised that ventilating your basement or crawl space IS NOT RECOMMENDED as some people suggest. This flawed mitigation technique practiced by many companies could have the adverse effect of bringing more radon gas in which naturally exists outside the footprint of your home’s foundation.

Homebuyers: be sure to read this

If you are in the process of purchasing a home ask your Realtor to include a radon contingency in your offer to purchase. This clause states the maximum level of radon that is acceptable to you and your family. Afterwards, hire a company to survey the home for radon gas levels. Radon testing is offered by most professional home inspection companies so be sure to ask this question when interviewing home inspectors in your area. If radon levels are found to be above the levels set by you in your contingency, this clause will afford you the right to back out of the contract without penalty.

Facts to remember about radon gas

  • Just because your next door neighbor’s house has tested high for radon gas does not mean your home is at risk.
  • Houses with basements are not at a higher risk for radon than houses without basements.
  • Radon levels vary region to region, and even from house to house on the same street.

This article is free to copy and use on your website or other publication providing the information below is included in your article.

Darin Redding is owner of Housecall Property Inspections, a professional San Diego Home Inspection company. Original Article Source: Radon San Diego

Author: Darin Redding
Article Source: EzineArticles.com
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Radon Mitigation – How to Find Radon Gas and Get it Out of Your Home

If your home tests positive for radon gas, radon mitigation is critical to removing the gas and protecting the health of your family. Radon gas is a natural phenomenon and common around the country, but it can cause lung cancer if it remains trapped in a living space. Radon mitigation is the process needed to vent radon gas from the home, before the radon has a chance to build up to harmful levels.

Home construction techniques of the last 20 years have led to tighter, more energy-efficient homes. Unfortunately, these tighter homes also have the ability to hold more radon gas indoors. Therefore, it’s important to find out if you have radon in your home and if so, install a radon mitigation system to have it safely removed.

What is Radon?

Radon is a colorless, odorless gas that occurs naturally when radium decays in the soil. From there, the gas can move up through the ground and into your home via cracks and holes in its foundation, collecting in enclosed spaces like basements or ground-floor living areas. Without radon testing and proper radon mitigation, radon exposure is extremely dangerous, and the EPA estimates radon gas to be the number-one cause of lung cancer among non-smokers and second leading cause of lung cancer overall.

The good news is that radon testing and radon mitigation are possible to accomplish without a lot of expense. A properly designed and installed system can bring down very high levels of radon gas just as soon as the system is turned on for the very first time.

Radon Testing

There are simple, affordable radon testing methods available for your home that will determine whether radon mitigation is necessary. Basic radon testing involves a charcoal adsorption canister, which is placed in the basement or lowest living area of your home for two to seven days. This canister adsorbs the radon gas and is sent to a radon lab for processing, with the results mailed back to you. A do-it-yourself test kit costs around $15 or you can have the radon test performed by a pro for about $100. Either way, plan on doing the test at a time when your whole home will remain closed except for standard exits and entries, as air circulation and escape will impact the accuracy of your test results.

Once the radon testing period is over and the adsorption canister sent to a lab for evaluation, the lab’s report will dictate the actual radon gas level found in your home. The results are reported in picoCuries per liter of air (pCi/L), and if your result is 4 pCi/L or above, you’ll need to have a radon mitigation system installed.

Radon Mitigation Systems

A soil suction system is the most common solution. This type of system involves installation of a vent pipe under the lowest level floor (typically a concrete basement floor). Then a specially designed fan works to pull the radon gas from the soil beneath the house and vent it safely to the outside, usually above the roof where it can’t reenter the structure. Sealing cracks in your homes foundation will make the system even more efficient. For best results, radon mitigation should be done only by a certified contractor who is insured and licensed, where required, by your county or state health department.

Most importantly, after the system is installed, it’s very important to get a second radon gas test done. Only by testing after the system is installed, can you be sure the system was properly designed and installed.

For more information on radon mitigation and health threats associated with radon gas, visit the EPA. For system images, visit the University of Illinois Extension web site on radon mitigation.

Tom Kraeutler is the Host, Founder and Chief Home Improvement Evangelist of The Money Pit. He is a hands-on home improvement broadcast journalist and the kind of guy homeowners want to call at midnight when their basement floods. He first earned his home improvement stripes as a professional home inspector, amassing over 20 years experience learning how houses are put together, and how they fall apart!

Author: Tom Kraeutler
Article Source: EzineArticles.com

Radon Mitigation Systems – Your Choices

Because there is a lot of risk of having radon gas present in buildings in the US, it has become a cause for concern for many homeowners and others who own buildings in the US, especially as the risks associated with inhaling the gas are many including being the fact that this gas is the second most important cause of lung cancer, after cigarette smoking. The need to select a proper solution with regard to radon mitigation systems is indeed high, especially if your building or home is located in a high risk area.

In fact, in some areas, before purchasing property, it is necessary to have a specific test performed to ensure that the building is free from radon gas. You have a number of choices with regard to choosing proper radon mitigations systems including having venting pipes to the exterior of the building in order to expel the gas from the building and this form of radon mitigation system is known as Passive mitigation system.

However, when even this radon mitigation system proves ineffective, and there is still noticeable gas in the home, then you need to choose another option which is the active radon mitigation system that requires installation of a fan that runs through the building and which will create low pressure under the slabs and thus increases the rate at which Radon gas is evacuated.

In this form of radon mitigation, you may need to place the fan in a place such as an attic, which is especially necessary if the foundation of the building is slab-on-grade type or even crawl-space. In addition, you should remember that it is necessary to ensure that the vent that runs through your building’s roof does not let water from the pipe drip down onto the slab underneath because it would prove to be harmful.

The cost of installing passive radon mitigation systems would be around one hundred and fifty dollars to three hundred dollars, while that of an active system would be about two hundred and fifty dollars to five hundred and fifty dollars more, though costs will ultimately depend on how big or small is the building.

We have the most comprehensive research on Radon testing kits and located a web site that sells low cost radon testing products that are 100% EPA approved and easy to use. You can order online and have the package within just a few days, not to mention their excellent customer support. Click here to go there now.

Author: Charles Berkley
Article Source: EzineArticles.com
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Radon and Lung Cancer – What You Don’t Know Can Hurt You When Buying a Home

Radon is the number one cause of lung cancer among non-smokers in the United States. As a Certified Property Inspector and Radon tester, I am seeing that most new home buyers are unaware of the dangers of Radon. As a result of this lack of information, most home buyers as well as current homeowners are not having their homes tested for Radon. In many cases, my clients have also been misinformed by real estate representatives or the media regarding both the prevalence and lung cancer dangers of radon. Radon testing if done by the homeowner, is inexpensive, and takes only 48 hours.

Here are some important facts about Radon that homeowners and renters should know to protect the health of your family. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Radon is the number one cause of lung cancer among non-smokers. Overall, radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the U.S. Radon is responsible for about 21,000 lung cancer deaths every year. Visit cheec.uiowa.edu/misc/radon.html for more on a study by Dr. William Field on radon-related lung cancer in women.

Radon is a cancer-causing natural radioactive gas that you can’t see, smell or taste. The type of construction, foundation or location does not prevent a Radon problem. Its presence in a home can pose a danger to a familys health. The only way to determine if a home has a Radon problem is to have an EPA standardized test done. This test can be completed by the homeowner or a certified professional.

The U.S. Surgeon General and EPA recommend that all homes be tested for radon. All homes can be fixed if there is a radon problem found. The average cost of a radon fix for a home is about $1,200. Some home improvement stores sell inexpensive test kits for about $35 (which includes an EPA certified lab report). However, Consumer Reports recently found that those test kits were not very accurate. Therefore, if you want to do your own testing contact your state radon office for a better quality inexpensive test kit.

If the homeowner or buyer/seller does not or cannot to do the Radon testing (some states require a professional complete the test during a real estate transaction), visit the National Environmental Health Association Radon Certification website at: radongas.org/radon_measurement_service.shtml This site has properly certified radon testers as myself listed by the cities in your state.

The untimely deaths of Peter Jennings and Dana Reeve have raised public awareness about lung cancer, especially among people who have never smoked. Smoking, radon, and secondhand smoke are the leading causes of lung cancer. Although lung cancer can be treated, the survival rate is one of the lowest for those with cancer. In many cases lung cancer can be prevented; this is especially true for radon.

EPA has designated January as National Radon Action Month, a time when state radon programs and other partners conduct special radon outreach activities and events across the country. The aim of National Radon Action Month is to increase the public’s awareness of radon, promote radon testing and mitigation, and advance the use of radon-resistant new construction practices.

For more information on Radon and home inspections or to contact the author, please visit: http://www.gpinspect.com

Steve Zivolich, is an ASHI Certified Inspector and owner of Guaranteed Property Inspection and Mold Investigation in Southern California. He is also certified in: Radon, Mold, Energy Efficiency and Asbestos testing and investigations.

Author: Steve Zivolich
Article Source: EzineArticles.com
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Planning For Radon Mitigation in Your New Home

The prevalence of Radon Gas in the soils in areas around the United States is an issue of growing concern. Radon has been deemed the number 1 cause of lung cancer in non-smokers in a study done at the University of Iowa.

If your planned home is in an area of higher risk, you should plan early on to install a Radon Mitigation System. In many areas now, a test is required with each real-estate transaction regarding residential properties and this will probably expand to include most of the higher risk areas. In any event, your health is well worth the small investment to install such a system.

Installing the basics of the system in a Basement or Slab-On-Grade Foundation consists of inserting a perforated pipe below the slab in crushed rock and stubbing up a connector into the basement. Venting this pipe to the exterior (away from any windows in your house or your neighbors, preferably up through the roof), constitutes what is known as a Passive Radon Mitigation System. If , after your house is complete, a test determines that levels are still too high, you may have to convert to an Active Radon Mitigation System by installing a fan than runs continuously which creates low pressure under the slab and increases the rate of gas evacuation. So you will want to have the slab penetration in an area that is readily accessible and has electric available to power the fan.

Radon gas is found in varying levels in almost all regions of the country. Visit the EPA’s Radon Map Zone at the following link.

Radon Map Zone Areas in Pink pose the highest risk followed by Orange and Yellow. Click here to check the specific risk level in your county.

Many times the fan is located in the attic, particularly if your foundation is slab-on-grade or crawl space. Also remember that you will want to make sure that the vent through the roof does not allow water to fall down the pipe to the slab below, this would not be a good thing for several reasons.

Designing and installing the infrastructure for a passive system can be accomplished for about $150 to $300. this will save you 150-300% of the cost of retrofitting. An Active systems will add $ 250-$550 depending on the size of your home. Download Build Radon Out.  Your radon system is a simple task but it does require planning to complete the installation in your new home without incurring significantly higher costs.

Author: Randy Covington
Article Source: EzineArticles.com
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Home Inspector Revelations – How to Remove Radon From Your Home Virtually Overnight

Anytime you talk home safety you want to talk radon, and that is what we will discuss here. Radon is the 2nd leading cause of lung cancer in the US and it has no need to be in your home. If you have not ever tested you home you should do so immediately. If people are getting sick from it, you should know if it is present in your home. Simple as that.

Easy to Do Tips to Remove radon and Breathe Easy

1. Make all attempts to have air constantly moving in your home. That is one of the easiest thing you can do to lower your radon levels. Constantly moving fresh air will displace radon particles. Now no matter how efficient your home is, it is still not completely air tight. Adding fresh air into the basement or living areas of the home on a constant basis will greatly reduce radon levels. This includes running fans or just opening and shutting the doors a few times.

2. Some homes have chimneys and by opening and leaving the chimney flue open it gives the radon gases a way to escape your Home. Radon like many other gasses is lighter than air so it will rise…and if you have a chimney you can let it rise right through your home and use the chimney as a vent. You can even add a fan to send gases up the chimney to additionally help move the stagnant air.

3. The easiest way to reduce radon is to test for it and have it properly remedied by a certified professional in your area. That is the only way to truly get rid of it, the above tips can help reduce your homes levels but never truly remove them all.

I know the above 3 tips are not the greatest tips…but the fact of the matter is, the above ways can help you prevent an over exposure to radon. The only true way to know if your home has a radon problem is to have your home checked by a certified professional or do some testing yourself. Know your levels, do yourself a favor and have your home checked. You’ll sleep better at night knowing you did so.

More and more people are getting sick in homes and they are placing the blame on Radon. If you haven’t tested your home yet…. click here and see my latest Do-it-yourself Home Radon testing kit and sleep good at night knowing you’re home has been tested and you’re family is breathing clean air..!

Author: John Fordyce
Article Source: EzineArticles.com
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Radon And Real Estate – Know The Facts And Fear Not

Concerned about buying or selling a home with Radon? You’ll find no need to worry if you educate yourself with the facts. Radon is found all over the United States, and one home can show a reading while the house next door shows nothing. From a real estate perspective, buyers can consider it a plus if a mitigation system is already in place, because that means the house has been tested, and fixed, and there’s no mystery. On the flip side, sellers can confidently let potential buyers see the radon results of a house, along with any mitigation, in a positive light, because information is more honorable than ignorance. I figure the good karma alone would pay off…

Radon is a radioactive gas found in soil and rock, formed by the decay of uranium, which is a natural process. Radon gas is invisible, with no odor or taste. Statistics say that radon hasn’t been shown to negatively affect home sales, but after my own experience of having the option to buy a house with radon, I wondered if that statistic was really true. I didn’t want to buy a “cancer-causing radon house” but that was a very uneducated and closed end thought. Ironically, I was ready and willing to buy a house that didn’t even mention radon at all. Of course, it had to finally occur to me, “What if this other house has radon too, and it’s just never been tested?”

In retrospect, our situation made me think that the psychology of not mentioning it at all could be pretty slick, and affective, but only initially. The truth is, there are still many people who – innocently – don’t consider it an important part of buying or selling a home; it simply doesn’t occur to them. There are many who even consider radon a scam entirely. However, out of respect and consideration for the market, it would probably be wise to have test results on hand.

Would you rather know, or choose ignorance? I’d rather know, particularly if a house had a high level that needed to be addressed with mitigation. An extremely high level, like 20 pCi/L (pico Curies per Liter) might spook me a little, but my chances of getting lung cancer even then (without mitigation) would only be 36 out of 1000, and that’s IF I were exposed over a lifetime. Statistics say that a level of 20 pCi/L would cause lung cancer to 260 out of 1000 people if they were exposed to that level for a lifetime AND they also smoked cigarettes. So obviously the level is hugely reduced for non-smokers, but we all know that smoking is its own risk anyway.

Human nature doesn’t typically want to think about risks and our emotional interpretation of them with numbers, charts and comparisons. Any one of us could still get hit by a bus tomorrow, right? Still, information offers wisdom, and to make a decision as a home buyer, you should take a look at the numbers with a mitigation system in place so you can at least see that there’s no need for extensive fear.

Mitigation systems can reduce whatever level of radon that is present down to 2 to 4 pCi/L. Because of the very definition of radon, the EPA can’t say that they consider any level safe, but they do say that 2 to 4 pCi/L is acceptable, with minimal risks. If mitigation lowers radon to an acceptable level, the EPA says your chances of getting lung cancer are only about 5 in 1000. With lower numbers like that, one realizes that walking or living in pollution over a lifetime could just as easily have ramifications too, like a dozen or more other factors. Okay, so, “Warning: being alive will kill you one day.” No big surprise there.

It’s nothing to make fun of, but very low levels of radon need not be perceived as alarms that make home buyers run for the hills. Humans have been living with varying amounts of radon in the earth and air for a long time, completely oblivious to it for the most part. It fluctuates with warm and cold, damp and dry conditions, and furthermore, there are worse things in the world that can be just as hazardous to our health, if not more so. Don’t become phobic, but stop and think about the chemistry, biology and toxins all over our environments; some of our cleaning products, molds, pesticides, pets, and even food choices… Heaven help us if we over-analyze “indoor pollution” and “what’s in that dust?”

Here are some things to consider, just to make sure you’re informed and have no unnecessary fears or misconceptions.

How long might you live in the house? Some people buy a house to live in for a lifetime while others know that they will want to take it up a notch in 5 or so years. Radon’s health risks are charted to show how a person’s health would be affected over a lifetime of exposure; this is probably equivalent to 20 years or more. The risk for only 5 to 10 years of exposure would likely show lower risks than the EPA’s “over a lifetime” chart.

According to the EPA, the average indoor radon level is estimated to be about 1.3 pCi/L. If you buy a home that hasn’t been tested at all, consider that this average exists.

Yes, radon is a hazard, but it can be fixed. Have confidence in mitigation systems, and if you have any doubt, contact the National Radon Hotline at 1-800-SOS RADON to ask if there are mitigation professionals in your area that can check the system. If they can’t tell you, they can at least give you the number to your state’s radon office so you can find out about trained mitigation contractors in your area.

Study the Environmental Protection Agency’s website (www.epa.gov) to find many consumer resources, including information about radon and health, and how various mitigation systems work.

If you’re in love with a house that you want to buy, don’t hesitate to ask the seller to test for radon, even though it may take some extra time. If the score shows radon above the “acceptable” level, know that mitigation can either be requested as a contingency in your offer, or you can try to get a fair reduction on the price of the house to accommodate your cost of adding mitigation.

Suggestion to sellers: test your house and make sure you’re ready to show test results if a prospective buyer asks about radon. If needed at all, you can either have mitigation installed in order to offer a safer home for sale, or be prepared to lower your asking price accordingly. (Not by much, roughly $500 to $2000). There’s a very good chance that a buyer will appreciate the knowledge or action taken pre-sale. Only the uneducated will shy away, so it would be helpful to have a few informative brochures readily available.

Simply put, houses with radon can be fixed, and doing so doesn’t cost an arm and a leg – no more than a medium to low-cost home repair. Fear not. If you want to buy a house because it feels like home, and the deal is ripe and full of potential, don’t miss out on it due to uninformed (or misinformed) fears about radon. Refer to http://www.radon.com or the EPA’s website to find out more about test kits and contacting your state’s radon office; be educated, so you can make a smart decision on buying, or take responsible, if not considerate, action as a seller.

Author: Angela Cravens
Article Source: EzineArticles.com
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