5 Reasons To Have Your Home Re-Tested for Radon

You may think that if you have your home tested for radon when you move in, you are set for life. That is just not the case, though. There are a variety of situations that would necessitate a radon re-test or follow-up test. Learn about 5 distinct situation that would be cause for radon retesting and always feel free to contact AmeriServ with any questions.

Your original radon test was conducted during the summer.

Studies have shown that radon levels vary depending on the weather outside. They also tend to spike during winter months when your home has been sealed tightly. If your original test was done during the summer, consider retesting in the winter to make sure your levels are still below the recommended level.

You have added onto or finished a new area in your home.

Anytime you add or finish a new level in your home, you should have that level tested for radon. Additions and updates can include new windows, siding, or rooms. While updates can make your home more energy efficient, they can also trap in more radon. The only way to be sure your home is still safe is to have it retested.

You have only ever had a short-term radon test.

Radon levels change over time, especially during seasonal changes. Short term radon tests are a great snapshot, but the longer the test, the more accurate results. For the most comprehensive results, consider a long term radon test that lasts minimum of 6 months.

You just moved into a new home.

If you just moved into a home, chances are a radon test was already conducted. Certainly, you can just take their word for granted that the levels are where they should be, but for a complete safeguard, you can also get your home retested for radon to ensure proper protocols are followed.

Your original radon test was 2 or more years ago.

Because radon levels change over time, it is recommended to have your home tested for radon every two years. One of the benefits of choosing AmeriServ Radon for your radon testing and mitigation is that we will provide a free follow up radon test after 2 years.

When it comes to deciding whether or not you should have your home retested for radon, it’s always better to be on the safe side. Just contact the professionals at AmeriServ and we would be glad to talk with you about whether we recommend a radon re-test or follow-up test. Call today and let us help you keep your family safe.

 

Real Estate Radon Mitigation

Radon-Resistant New Constructions

Whether you are having a new home built yourself or are just purchasing a newly built home, you should consult with the construction team to see if your home is a radon-resistant new construction (RRNC). Because radon is so prevalent in homes and can cause great health risks, construction companies can now use specific techniques that will greatly reduce the amount of radon in your new home.

What Makes My New Home Radon-Resistant?

Building a RRNC doesn’t require a lot of fancy techniques. It just takes implementing a handful of safeguards that can ultimately make a huge difference in protecting you from the harmful effects of radon. A construction team builds a RRNC by making sure the following are in place:

  1. Residential Radon MitigationGravel layer below the foundation to allow radon to flow freely around underground and never get into your home
  2. Plastic interlayer placed on top of the gravel to use as a barrier when the concrete slab is poured to keep radon below the foundation
  3. Vertical PVC pipe that runs from the gravel layer up through the home and out of the roof to vent the radon out and away from the home
  4. Sealant to cover any cracks in the foundation floor
  5. Outlet to be able to plug in a fan, if needed, in the attic for further removal of radon

To be safe, you should always touch base with your home builder to make sure these are in place if you chose to have a radon-resistant new construction.

How Do I Know If My Home Is Radon-Resistant?

The only way to know for sure if your home is radon-resistant is to talk with your builders. Make sure they have a radon system installed, test the radon level in your home before you move in, and go over the results with you. Also, if your home is certified by NAHB, LEED, or IAP, you my have a radon-resistant home. You can always call the team at AmeriServ Radon of Iowa to help with any radon testing or mitigation, as well. We are knowledgeable, friendly, and passionate about keeping families safe from radon.

To learn more about the EPA’s recommendations for RRNC’s, visit their website.

Does Radon Affect My Pets?

The only ones who arguably spend more time in your home than you do is your pets. Many, in fact, consider pets to be an integral part of their family, just as important as a child or spouse. With that in mind, you may want to consider how radon can affect your pets. Unfortunately, the effects of radon are equally, if not more dangerous for your pets. The only way to protect your furry friends is to have your home tested for radon and mitigated right away if levels are higher than the EPA recommendation of 4 pCi/L.

Signs Radon Has Harmed My Pets

When you think about where your pets spend time in your home, there really is no limit. You may not live your life in your cold, wet basement or crawlspace, but your dog or cat may find that to be the perfect hiding spot. They aren’t the only ones hiding there, though. Radon emissions come from the ground, so while your cat is hanging out in the basement, it is very susceptible to breathing in the gas. Humans often don’t notice the effects of radon right away, some even not seeing signs for upwards of thirty years. However, our pets’ lungs are much smaller and have less capacity to handle harmful gases such as radon. If you have multiple pets at home that are experiencing the same symptoms, radon could be the culprit. In that case, take them to the vet right away.

Protect Your Pets from Radon

Many pet owners will go to great lengths to ensure their pets have the best life possible: giving them a warm home, feeding them pricey food, taking them to spas, and having surgeries done as needed. Protecting your pet from radon should be on this list, as well. The last thing you want is to take your pets to the vet only to find out that one or more has lung cancer that could have been prevented. Safeguarding your family and your pets from radon is as easy as making a phone call to AmeriServ Radon of Iowa. We will come to your home for radon testing, and if your home has dangerous radon levels, we will install a mitigation system.

How Does Radon Affect Real Estate Transactions?

With radon deaths at an all time high of over 20,000, radon testing and mitigation has become an integral part of real estate transactions. It affects all parties – buyers, sellers, and realtors. The best way to ensure that real estate transactions run smoothly is for all parties to understand the importance of radon testing and also their role in ensuring radon testing and mitigation is done. 

Radon and Home Buyers

Home Buyers And Sellers Guide To Radon
Click above to check out the EPA’s revised edition of “Home Buyers’ And Sellers’ Guide To Radon.”

If you are buying a home, you shouldn’t assume that radon mitigation has already been complete. It is your job to ensure that you will be safe in the home by requesting radon testing. It doesn’t matter if the home is 5 years old or 50 years old. Radon should be tested in all homes every 2 years. Also, radon testing isn’t part of many standard home inspections. You will have to request this as an additional service. Keep in mind that radon is the leading cause for lung cancer, so just as you want to make sure the home you are buying is structurally sound, you also want to make sure the inside is livable. If the radon test shows a level higher than 4  pCi/L, you will want to negotiate with the seller to have a radon mitigation system installed.

Radon and Selling Your Home

If you are getting ready to sell your home, avoid delays during the selling process by having it tested before any real estate transactions begin. Be mindful, though, that you will be required to disclose the results with your realtor or the buyer if you are selling your home yourself. If the level is above 4 pCi/L, you will need to get a radon mitigation system installed. Although it is best to take care of the testing and mitigation (if needed) before putting your house on the market, the buyer still has the right to get confirmatory testing done as part of home inspection.

Radon and Realtors

As a realtor, it is your responsibility to advocate for your client by staying educated about radon and the importance of radon testing. You may have home buyers asking you about the dangers of radon, acceptable radon levels, or even how to go about radon testing. On the other side of the transaction, if a seller has already received radon results, they may have questions about disclosing that information.

At AmeriServ Radon Mitigation of Iowa, we offer a realtor relations program to help realtors navigate the complex issue of radon testing and real estate transactions. When you partner with us, we can provide informational materials and presentations to equip you with all of the information you need to be successful. Experience all of these benefits and more, and become an AmeriServ Realtor Relations Partner today!

American Cancer Society Logo

What Does The American Cancer Society Say About Radon?

An excerpt from the American Cancer Society:

Being exposed to radon for a long period of time can lead to lung cancer. Radon gas in the air breaks down into tiny radioactive elements (radon progeny) that can lodge in the lining of the lungs, where they can give off radiation. This radiation can damage lung cells and eventually lead to lung cancer.

Cigarette smoking is by far the most common cause of lung cancer in the United States, but radon is the second leading cause. Scientists estimate that about 20,000 lung cancer deaths per year are related to radon.

Exposure to the combination of radon gas and cigarette smoke creates a greater risk for lung cancer than either factor alone. Most radon-related lung cancers develop in smokers. However, radon is also thought to cause a significant number of lung cancer deaths among non-smokers in the United States each year.

Some studies have suggested that radon exposure may be linked to other types of cancer as well, such as childhood leukemia. But the evidence for such links has been mixed and not nearly as strong as it is for lung cancer.

To read the full article – Click here.

4 Tips For A Successful Summer Radon Test

So you have finally decided to get your home tested for radon this summer – great start! Did you know, however, that many factors, such as open windows and doors, air conditioning units, and fans can alter the results of your test results? Before scheduling your summer radon test, keep in mind the following:

1.    Keep a closed house.

With the blistering summer temperatures, many of us choose not to leave the windows and doors open anyway, but it is important to note that you must shut all windows and doors  at least 12 hours before the test begins and keep them shut throughout the test. You can still use your doors to enter and leave your house, of course, but otherwise keep them closed.

2.    Use central air conditioning.

Feel free to use central air conditioning to keep your house cool during radon testing. Be careful, though, when using window and wall air conditioning units, as no air from the outside should enter the house. If you are able, switch the setting so the units are simply recirculating the air inside the house, rather than bringing in additional outside air.

3.    Control indoor fans.

Keeping cool in the summer can be a chore, and although it can be tempting to run fans on full blast throughout the house, control the ones that are near the radon testing unit, by redirecting the airflow or simply turning the fan nearest to the testing unit on low. These units can be extremely sensitive and constant blowing air can throw off the test results.

4.    Plan ahead – take a vacation.

For some families, summer is the best option for radon testing, as one or more parent may be home from work. However,  children entering and leaving the house can make for faulty test results.  To avoid the heavy traffic, consider planning a vacation during your radon testing week. Your family will enjoy the time away and your radon technician will be able to conduct the test efficiently and effectively.

Guthrie County Iowa radon testing and mitigation

Why Radon Shouldn’t Be Ignored

It’s difficult to understand how something we can’t see or smell can pose such a risk to our health. What’s truly scary is realizing just how harmful to our health it can be, and unlike carbon monoxide, has no immediate symptoms of exposure. Yet, most of us have at least 1 carbon monoxide detector in our homes while not giving radon detection a second thought.

Radon is the number 1 cause of lung cancer among non-smokers. According to the EPA, nearly 1 in 3 homes in a seven-state region had screening levels over 4 pCi/L, the EPA’s recommended action level for radon exposure. Seven out of ten homes in Iowa have high radon levels and approximately 400 Iowans die each year from exposure to this naturally produced gas. Some scientific studies are now showing children may be even more sensitive to radon due to their higher respiration rate and their rapidly dividing cells. More and more families are also making their basements primary living spaces and bedrooms for their children.

The primary routes of potential human exposure are inhalation and ingestion. Radon in the ground, groundwater or building materials introduced to working and living spaces and disintegrates into its decay products. Inhalation exposure is typically more likely and more important than ingestion.

Dr. Peter Sandman, a risk communication expert, writes that Risk = Hazard + Outrage. With very little, if any, outrage over radon exposure our human nature perceives it as less of a risk. After all, it’s a naturally occurring gas so there’s no one to be angry with. Lack of outrage translates to lack of action.

Let’s flip things around a bit. What if your place of employment, your children’s daycare or school didn’t do radon testing. Or worse, what if they tested, levels were high and they didn’t disclose it. You’d be outraged…you’d demand ACTION. The risk would feel HUGE.

Radon mitigation or the process of “fixing” a home that has elevated radon levels is comparable to other minor home repairs and it’s invaluable simply for the peace-of-mind knowing you’re not exposing yourself or your family to this harmful radioactive gas.

FRAP Scorecard – What is it?

What is the Federal Radon Action Plan Scorecard?

radon testing in iowa, dangers of radon, radon mitigation

Since 2011, the federal government has been implementing the Federal Radon Action Plan (FRAP). In February 2016, they posted a Scorecard to report on the status of radon testing and radon mitigation activities implemented under FRAP. The scorecard records commitments based on their final status, green for complete and red for incomplete.

It also discusses the six commitments that will be continued under the National Radon Action Plan (NRAP), which took over the FRAP plan after 2016. The three green-marked commitments will either be expanded to include new strategies or simply continued and tracked. The three red-marked commitments will be addressed under current  NRAP programs.

Six Commitments Tracked by FRAP

Following are the six commitments defined by FRAP and a brief discussion of their progress.

  1. Testing tribal residences and schools for radon and educating Tribes of radon risk –The Bureau of Indian Affairs, has done radon testing on about  30% of approximately 3500 residences and 500 schools for the presence of radon. The remaining 70% are expected to be completed by 2020 and will be tracked and reported.
  2. Deducting radon testing and mitigation costs with the Health Care Savings Accounts (HSAs) – Because radon can have significant health-related effects, the IRS is currently working with the EPA to determine which expenses related to radon reduction can be deducted as medical expenses.
  3. Providing a radon mitigation cost set-aside through the VA’s Home Loan Guarantee Program – Although the VA has considered this action, it has determined that it is not feasible under current budget limitations. It will continue to prioritize work with guidelines for new construction programs and Minimum Property Requirements (MRP), which will be tracked and reported.
  4. Testing for radon in HUD public and assisted housing – While HUD currently lacks funding to perform radon tests as a part of its inspections of public and assisted housing, it is committed make this a standard part of the inspection process and will continue to explore its feasibility under NRAP.
  5. Creating a website to Increasing overall public awareness of radon in homes – Currently the EPA, HUD, USDA and HHS are collaborating on a website that works with existing campaigns to increase public awareness of the prevalence of radon and known health risks of radon in homes. The launch date of this website is as yet not determined.
  6. Engaging with the philanthropic organizations to promote public awareness of radon – The EPA, HUD and USDA is working to develop public-private partnerships to support programs to increase public awareness and reduce the presence and risks of radon in homes. So far efforts have been largely unsuccessful.

For further radon information from government agencies and programs, contact Ameriserv Radon Mitigation’s link page.