Radon Information and Testing

Radon is the main source of ionizing radiation to which most of us are exposed. It is an invisible, odorless, tasteless radioactive gas that is produced by minerals like uranium and radium in the soil. Ionizing radiation can harm the cells that make up our body's tissues and organs. The type of radiation that Radon produces is mainly an internal hazard and it produces damage when it gets into the body. The result of such damage is that Radon causes lung cancer in humans. Radon is a known human lung carcinogen and is the largest source of radiation exposure and risk to the general public. Most inhaled Radon is rapidly exhaled, but the inhaled decay products readily deposit in the lungs, where they damage sensitive cells in the airways increasing the risk of lung cancer. The EPA estimates Radon gas causes approximately 23,000 lung cancer deaths each year in this country. The U.S. Surgeon General has warned that Radon is the second-leading cause of lung cancer in the United States, second only to smoking. For nonsmokers in this country, Radon is the No. 1 cause of lung cancer.

A level of Radon gas is present in EVERY home, entering primarily from soil under homes through small cracks and openings in the foundation. As air in your home heats up, it rises and leaks out of attic openings and around the upper floor windows, creating a small suction at the lowest level of the home. That suction pulls the Radon out of the soil and into your home. Fortunately, there are extremely effective methods of mitigating the Radon level in any home. Qualified contractors can typically mitigate Radon problems for a cost similar to that of many common home repairs such as painting or having a new water heater installed, averaging between $750 and $1400.

Important facts you need to know:

Estimated lung cancer deaths per year in Pennsylvania due to residential Radon exposure is between 900 and 3,800.

An estimated 40% of Pennsylvania homes have Radon levels greater than the EPA guideline of 4 pCi/L, although levels in the York County area are among the highest in the state.

Forty-nine of Pennsylvania's 67 counties have a predicted average indoor level greater than 4 pCi/L.

About 270,000 single homes in Pennsylvania, with about 750,000 occupants, are expected to have Radon levels greater than 20 pCi/L (over five times greater than the EPA action level of 4 pCi/L). In the York County area where most of my testing has been conducted, levels between 35 pCi/L and 100 pCi/L are common, with several homes having measured greater than 200 pCi/L!  

Only about 10% of homes in Pennsylvania have been tested.

It's not hard to find out if you have a Radon problem in your home. All you need to do is have a test performed for the levels present.  Pennsylvania law requires that all third-party persons performing Radon testing, mitigation or laboratory analysis in Pennsylvania be certified. While test kits are available at home centers, be aware that results are often unreliable, unlike results from a PaDEP certified tester which are required to be precise and accurate, all for about the same cost as the DIY method.

Note that many newly constructed homes now include a Passive Radon Reduction System present, and while this type of system may help lower the level, their effectiveness is marginal at best, often giving the home owner a false sense of security. In homes with higher levels common to this area, a fan is necessary to adequately lower the level.  The simple addition of a fan converts a less effective Passive System to a very effective Active System.

I am certified in the state of Pennsylvania to test for Radon.  The average test takes only 48 hours to conduct and the results are immediate with no need for Lab services.  Testing is easy, safe and non-invasive and the cost minimal when weighed against the potential harm that Radon gas can cause you and your family.  A very low price for the peace of mind you will have knowing the levels in your home are safe, or need to be reduced.  It really is a matter of life and death.

To schedule a test, click on the "Book An Inspection" link and fill in the information, or call me directly at (717) 578-3010.

Bob Huska
BH Home Inspection and Radon Testing

Certified by the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors - Click here to verify.