Rentals and Radon
Radioactive radon gas is just as dangerous a situation for tenants who rent from a landlord as it is for individual homeowners. Landlords who offer residential housing for a monthly fee have the responsibility to ensure their tenants are living in a safe environment.
Situations where a tenant needs to be concerned about the dangers of radioactive radon gas would be in basement, ground level or first floor apartments be it a brick apartment building, multi-family home or the like. In addition, many rent single family homes.
If you are a tenant and are concerned about radon in your living space, the question of how to proceed can be confusing since you don’t own the property. Speak to your landlord and ask if they have ever tested the property for radon. The landlord or management company will have the information and you have a right to have it as well. Some states have NO RULES for radon and others are very proactive making sure every property is tested prior to tenant occupation of the space. Find out if your states has any guidelines to further support your request for testing.
If the landlord feels radon is not an issue, what is your recourse? Many are not aware of the dangers of radon. That being said, share the information so your landlord can be educated as well as offer them resources such as the EPA site for increased knowledge. If your landlord will not test the property, call in a professional to test or order test kits from an approved EPA vendor. If levels are elevated and your health is at risk, share this with your landlord and ask for action.
As a tenant, you have rights! You can request a radon mitigation system be installed followed by re-testing to assure the levels are reduced adequately. Be proactive…this is your health! Long term exposure to elevated levels of radon gas have been proven to cause lung cancer. This threat is completely preventable with proper measures taken.
Cellular Results from Radon Exposure
Lung cells can have 3 cellular results when they are “hit” by radon”s daughter cells also know as alpha particles.
Lung cells are either damaged but repaired by the body, killed or damaged and not repaired.
Damaged and not repaired lung cells may result in miscoded DNA which can cause cellular mutation. This mutation may result in lung cancer.
Test Your Home…Protect Your Family!
Understanding Your Radon Results
You have recently had your home tested for radioactive radon gas or possibly you are in the process of purchasing a home and have asked to have the home tested for radon. NOW WHAT!
If you have had a short term passive test performed (2-90 days) for quick results, meaning no electronics have been used, a small canister, vial or packet filled with a medium containing charcoal is likely to be used. This medium absorbs and stores the radioactive radon daughter cells, called alpha particles. These particles are then extracted and read in a lab. There are other methods such as the Electret Ion Detectors and Alpha Track Detectors for short term testing up to 90 days yet the charcoal canisters are the most common for real estate transactions for a 2-7 day test. These tests will give you an overall average of radon collected.
Another method for short term testing is an electronic test, also know as an active test to measure radon levels. An electronic test uses a Continuous Radon Monitor which measures the alpha particles on a continuous basis giving an hour by hour reading. Continuous Radon Monitors may be preferable for a real estate transaction because they are tamper proof and some machines have a motion detector to identify if the machine has been moved. Make sure if you are having an electronic test performed that you use a professional who has been certified by the AARST-NRPP National Radon Proficiency Program.
When doing an electronic test, you will see your radon levels on an hourly basis which may fluctuate. This is normal! Radon is a concern when long term exposure is experienced. Spikes in the levels are common particularly during the night. Levels are known to fluctuate based on the season and can be higher during heating season or during heavy wind and rain.
That being said, if you view your radon results via the electronic method and see hourly changes, take a deep breath and know that is normal. We live on Planet Earth which is constantly changing so rely on the overall average for mitigation versus your hourly read for peace of mind. If your levels are between 2.0pCi/L and 4.0pCi/L, you may want to have a radon mitigation system installed to reduce levels and re-test. EPA action level is 4.0pCi/L yet the EPA has concern between 2.0pCi/L and 4.0pCi/L. The WHO, World Health Organization, recommends fixing your home at 2.7pCi/L.
Test Your Home…Protect Your Family!