Radon Gas Information

Radon Gas Information
There are cracks in the foundation. Nothing structural - that is, nothing that is going to threaten the stability of the home, but they are there. Nooks, crannies, and holes through which seeps an invisible threat. Colorless, odorless and undetectable with our senses, it is none the less the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States.
Radon gas - even the name sounds ominous, evoking images of radiation and nuclear devastation, is created when uranium in the soil decays. The gas then seeps through any access point into a home. Common entry points are cracks in the foundation, wall-floor joints, pores in the concrete, poorly sealed pipes, drainage or any other loose point. Once in the home, the gas can collect in certain areas especially basements and other low-lying, closed areas and build up over time to dangerous levels. The Environmental Protection Agency of the US Government has set a threshold of 4 picocuries per liter of air as the safe level. As humans are exposed to the gas over a period of years, it can have a significant and detrimental effect.
Can My Home Have It?
How widespread is the problem? Radon has been found in homes in all 50 states. Certain areas are more susceptible than others, but no location is immune.  Concentrations of radon-causing materials in the soil can be either natural or manmade.   In the Kansas City area, the short answer to the question as to whether your home can have elevated radon levels is: yes it can.  It may not of course, but the only way to tell for sure is to have a home tested.
Here's a link to a US Radon map:  (http://www.epa.gov/radon/zonemap.html)
Testing for radon comes in two forms: active and passive. Active devices (the only type our company uses) constantly measure the levels of radon in a portion of the home and display those results. Passive devices collect samples over a period of time and then are taken away or mailed to a laboratory and analyzed by a professional.  Over a period of days, the device is left in the lowest level of the home which is normally occupied or could be occupied. This eliminates crawl spaces under the house, but includes finished or unfinished basements.  The EPA web site (http://www.epa.gov/radon/manufact.htm) provides information on finding an appropriate resources and testing devices.
If high concentrations of radon are found in your home, you have several options.  You can ignore it and accept the risk.  You can try sealing cracks and/or ventilating the home and the basement more (not usually a practical solution from an energy efficiency standpoint in our are for winter and summer, and often this does not effectively reduce the radon).  In most cases the best way to limit the amount of radon getting into the home is to seal the access points and install an active radon-reduction system. Once again, a professional should be engaged to ensure that the radon is effectively blocked from entering the home. Typical radon mitigation systems can cost between $800 and $2500, according to the EPA (though in the Kansas City area $700 to $1200 is more typical).
If you are buying or selling a home, radon can be a significant issue. Buyers should be aware of the radon risk in our area and determine whether a radon test has been done on the home yet. When in doubt, the EPA always recommends testing. If test results already exist, make sure they are recent or that the home has not been significantly renovated since the test was performed. If in doubt, get a new test done. If you are selling a home, having a recent radon test is a great idea. By being proactive, you can assure potential buyers that there is no risk and avoid the issue from the start.
So whether you have an old home or a new one, whether you have a walkout basement, crawlspace, or are on a slab, radon is a reality. But it is a reality that we can live with, because with proper testing and mitigation, can eliminate radon as a health threat. For more information, visit the EPA web site on radon at http://www.epa.gov/radon.
We Do the Tests - Then Why Don't We Sell Radon Mitigation Systems?
We feel radon testing is important from both a health prospective as well as a potential financial perspective for a smart home-buyer.  A number of our clients have saved nearly a thousand dollars by having this test done - when above-normal readings resulted in the sellers paying for a radon mitigation system for the new buyers!  And if the test comes back with low radon, that can give you some peace of mind as you settle in to your new place.
As a home inspection company (and not a radon system sales company) so you can be assured our tests are "neutral" in that we have nothing to gain by finding or reporting higher radon levels in any home.  This also gives some assurance to the sellers that our tests are above-board (since some cooperation from the sellers can be important on this point, especially when they find out that they may be facing the cost of putting in a radon system from which they themselves will derive no personal benefit).
Scheduling Your Radon Test
If you wish to have a Professional Radon Test with one of our Continuous Radon Monitors just let us know when you schedule your inspection - or even when we arrive at the home.  The test includes two separate trips to your home for setting up the monitor and then a few days later retrieving the measurements as given in hourly air-sampled readings.  Our fee for the test is $125, which includes a computerized report e-mailed to you with the results.  The test runs a minimum of 48 hours and usually we can let it run a day or two longer for additional air sampling, depending on availability and your required time frames for inspections. 
Our Radon Info / Certifications
Radon Measurement Technician
Kansas Radon Program Member KS-MS0162
Radon Measurement Specialist
National Radon Safety Board Member ID # 13SS058
Past National Environmental Health Association Member
Past NEHA Certified Residential Measurement Provider
All Monitors Calibrated Annually