Do Condominiums need to be tested for radon? This is a question that comes up frequently and the answer is dependent on several factors so let’s address them all.
Since radon is the natural breakdown of uranium in rock and soil, floor level in a condominium matters when testing. Units closest to the ground will be those affected if radon levels are elevated.
Condo floor level in a multiple unit building will identify if radon testing is needed. For example, you have a high rise masonry building which has units in the basement and on the first floor, radon testing for these levels are recommended. Do you need to test the 7th or 8th floor for radon? If the buyer is concerned and peace of mind is obtained from testing, then test. Otherwise, it is highly unlikely there will be elevated levels at this height.
Are you purchasing half a multi-family home that has been converted to condos or a side by side townhome whereby there is living space in the lower level? This type of condominium is highly recommended to test for radon in the lowest level of living space. If there are any areas with a first floor slab on grade extension, then the first floor in this area should be tested as well since the structure is sitting directly on the slab which is in direct contact with the soil.
Most real estate transactions involve having a radon test performed to identify if the radon levels are elevated hence signaling a possible serious health threat. Radon testing during a real estate transaction is typically performed during the buyer’s due diligence period. Some buyers choose to waive a home inspection as well as a radon test to be more competitive to have their offer accepted. Some buyers will have their home inspection and radon test after the transaction has closed or not at all.
The radon testing performed for most real estate transactions are set by the home inspector and completed in 2 days with closed house conditions for 12 hours prior to deployment. There are two basic techniques used to test for radon short term and those are active and passive.
If the active method is used, meaning electronic testing, a Continuous Radon Monitor (CRM) is used which will provide an hour by hour breakdown of radon’s alpha particles. The home inspector will collect the machine at the end of the testing period, analyze the data electronically and provide the results to the appropriate parties of the transaction. Many CRM’s have a motion detector installed so it can be viewed if the machine was moved or if tampering/interference was attempted. The technician or home inspector setting up the machine will collect the machine as well. The CRM is a solid state device that is tamper proof so it makes for a great testing tool during an arm’s length real estate transaction.
If the passive method is used, meaning non-electronic testing, it comes in several forms that typically contains a charcoal medium with a specified moisture content for the radon alpha particles to attach to. Passive testing containers can be found in a plastic vial form, a metal canister and/or pouches all with the similar medium to collect the alpha particles. The home inspector or technician setting the test should also collect the test however more times than not with passive devices, the real estate agent or homeowner will be capping the passive test then forwarding to the lab. This is not acceptable during a real estate transaction as there is no way to track if the passive test was tampered with or if the timing was accurate. It is the responsibility of the home inspector or technician to complete the job properly. Analysis of passive tests is completed by sending the specified container to the lab at which time a liquid scintillate is added to release the radioactive radon alpha particles. These radioactive strikes are then read and reported to the appropriate parties in the transaction.
To obtain accurate radon results, it is imperative that proper protocol is followed. Radon has been looked at by some in the real estate industry as an annoyance of yet another process to do before closing. Radon is an insidious Class A carcinogen that has been proven to cause lung cancer and other forms of cancer are being discovered as research continues. Since radon is invisible, odorless and colorless, some feel it is a non-issue. Radon is real and a serious health threat! Act today by testing your home every +/- 2years for a safe internal environment.
New construction property radon testing must be performed at the appropriate time for it be a valid test. Many properties when under construction are contracted before the home is completed. Nearing the end of construction coming up to closing can present a rather frenetic time for the developer to get everything completed. Trades people are going in and out of the structure finalizing installations. That being said, when should the radon testing be performed in new construction real estate?
Radon testing should NOT be done when every trades person on the job is scurrying in and out of the property to get their work completed. When the trades people have completed their work and the house is quiet waiting for final inspections is the best time. This way, “closed house conditions” can be maintained and activity is at a minimum.
Recently, I was asked to perform an electronic radon test in a home that was under pressure to finalize the basic installations. At the time of deployment, information was shared that no one would be entering the basement for the 48 hours required for a short term test and there would be minimal activity in and out of the house. The house conditions were acceptable at the time of setup however when I returned to collect the Continuous Radon Monitor, the doors were opened every 5 minutes, the basement door was closed but the basement was covered in dust and the radon machine was moved multiple times. In situations like this, the test may be invalidated as the proper conditions were not in place. The health of the new home owners is at stake if the radon test is not performed properly resulting in skewed levels.
Test Your Home, School and Workplace…Protect Your Family, Employee and Yourself!
Your home has a radon mitigation system installed because your radon levels were elevated and you chose to create a safe internal environment for your family. You are going on a family vacation for the winter school break and are unplugging or turning off your computer and some other devices to save electricity.
Should you turn off your radon mitigation system while you are away? Will you save money on electricity? The only one home is the cat after all!
The amount of power or electricity used to maintain a radon mitigation system running properly is minimal. These systems are designed to run constantly and the fan installed is actively pulling the radon from under the slab to keep levels low. That is why radon testing is recommended every 2+/- years; To make sure the fan is working properly over a long term basis.
Without the fan running, radon will build back up again very quickly. When you return home from your vacation after your home has been closed up, the radon levels will be elevated. It is recommended you leave your radon mitigation system running while you are away for vacation and come back home to safe internal environment.
Radon, an insidious Class A carcinogen, has been proven to cause lung cancer with long term exposure. AARST-NRPP is the United States of America’s professional radon organization working to save lives.
American Association of Radon Scientists and Technologist (AARST) is a professional organization that is dedicated to delivering outstanding service, the highest standards of excellence in addition to the ethical performance of radon measurement, radon mitigation and transfer of technical knowledge through superior and continued education. AARST is a not for profit trade organization.
National Radon Proficiency Program (NRPP) is the section of AARST that assists Radon Measurement Providers also known as Radon Testers re-certify their credentials every 2 years to maintain their active status. This requires taking continuing education courses to stay current with industry changes and advancements in addition to device recertification. The recertification process for analytical devices requires the Radon Measurement Provider to ship their analytical device (aka electronic method of radon testing using a CRM or Continuous Radon Monitor) to a radioactive chamber to be loaded with radon alpha particles. The chamber then returns the technician’s loaded analytical device back to them. The technician then performs the data analysis of the loaded device. The results are sent to the chamber lab and if all matches correctly from the test, the technician is re-certified once all continuing educational requirements are met.
Without re-certification, the Radon Measurement Provider cannot perform radon testing using an active device. Please watch the informational video below about why it is so important to test your home for radioactive radon gas today.
TAKE ACTION: Test your home, school or workplace for radioactive radon gas. January is the month the EPA and the US Surgeon’s General encourage everyone to be proactive and test for radon. If your radon levels are elevated, TAKE ACTION and install a radon mitigation system to reduce levels then re-test to make sure your internal environment is safe.
Test Your Home, School or Workplace TODAY…Protect Yourself, Protect Your Family, Protect Your Employees!
The holidays are upon us! People are busy assembling their homes with festive decorations making way for guests, fun, laughter and celebration. Seasons greetings are shared with wishes of peace on earth and good health.
Long term exposure to elevated radon levels has been proven to cause lung cancer and possibly affect other organs in the body. Give the gift of peace of mind with a healthy home and plan to test your home for radon in the the coming year. The only way to know if radon is an issue in your home is to test for it.
Test Your Home for Radioactive Radon Gas…Protect Your Family!
The popular new real estate trend appears to be knocking down older homes in need of repair and building new. This trend eliminates many concerns inside the home that plagues older homes such as older heating systems, horse hair plaster, lead paint, etc. yet there can be a host of new concerns to be aware of.
With new construction, homes are tighter with state of the art insulation, energy efficiency, smart home potential with built-in electronics, reduced maintenance, green building products and the beauty of being able to customize your new space.
Building materials, depending on where they are sourced, may contain radioactive materials in them. Some materials maycontain naturally-occurring radioactive elements like uranium, radium and thorium. These affected materials can be concrete, gypsum, sandstone, granite, natural stone and others. The resulting decay product of the breakdown of these elements is radon.
New construction can address potential radon in a home by installing a sub-slab passive system that can easily be activated if the radon levels are elevated noted by testing. Testing is the only way to know if elevated radon levels exist. If elevated, a passive system is activated by installing a fan used to draw the radon out of the home from under the slab. Re-test post fan installation or if there is no passive system in place, re-test after a sub-slab depressurization system is installed.
Radon, a colorless, odorless and tasteless Class A carcinogen sourced from the natural breakdown of uranium in rock and soil, has been proven to cause lung cancer with prolonged exposure of elevated levels. Radon builds up in homes and buildings because it becomes trapped. The only way to know if your home, school or workplace has elevated levels is to test.
Elevated levels should be addressed professionally by a certified radon mitigator. A radon mitigation system is designed to reduce the indoor radon levels in a home or building. The benefit of reducing radon levels is a reduced risk of developing lung cancer. Radon mitigation systems are effective within 24-48 hours of installation and will maintain reduced radon levels as long as the fan is operating and properly maintained. The fan should be operating 24/7 for maximum results. It is highly recommended to re-test for radon levels 24-48 hours post system installation and every 2+/- years thereafter. Testing every 2+/- years is to assess the system’s integrity and the fan’s functionality.
Professional radon mitigators are skilled in the general construction of a building and this is imperative so proper placement of a sub-slab depressurization system is most effective. There is a time and a place for DIY projects and in this case, go with the pros for the safety of your family. A poor or ineffective installation by a homeowner with limited knowledge of the process can be dangerous to one’s health. Why take the chance!
Radon in Your Child’s School and What to Do About It
Radon, a Class A carcinogen derived from the natural breakdown of uranium in rock and soil, becomes a danger to one’s health when it builds up in homes, buildings, schools and is breathed in over extended periods of time. Children, educators and support staff are typically in schools from 7am or earlier through to the evening. Many children are enrolled into an aftercare program and can be in an affected school for 10-12 hours per day.
The EPA has set guidelines for managing radon in schools with the hopes ALL schools will be tested, fixed if necessary and on a schedule for future testings to ensure your child is safe in their learning environment. The question arises as to what if the school administrators are hesitant or closed minded to testing for this insidious health threat?
Radon awareness is everything because there are so many people who do not know about the dangers of long term exposure to elevated levels of radon. Approximately 21,000 deaths per year in the United States is attributed to lung cancer from radon exposure.
Talk to your neighbors, talk to the officials in your child’s school, talk to your mayor, to your school’s staff and educators. Bring in a certified radon professional to offer information and discuss the hazards associated with radon. They can review the proper procedure for testing, the time frame involved and how to correct the situation if radon levels are elevated.
The only way to know if radon is an issue in your child’s school is to test and the procedure is a simple one. Be proactive! If your child’s school hasn’t been tested yet, now is the time. Motivate, organize and get it done!
Test Your Home, School or Workplace…Protect Your Family!