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.
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
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Radon is a radioactive gas that occurs naturally in the soil and often leaks into lower levels of homes. Exposure to radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer, behind smoking, and leads to 21,000 lung cancer deaths annually. Because you aren’t able to see, smell or taste radon gas, it’s important to test the air in your home and fix any problems you find. Many people don’t believe their home is in area with radon, one of the common myths about radon.
EPA’s Common Myths about Radon
Recently the EPA has reported ten common myths people have about radon, which follow.
1. Myth: Scientists are not sure that radon really is a problem.
Fact: While scientists are not certain of the exact number of deaths due to radon, the major health organizations, including the Center for Disease Control (CDC), American Medical Association (AMA), and American Lung Association all agree that radon causes thousands of otherwise preventable lung cancer deaths annually, especially among smokers.
2. Myth: Radon testing is difficult and expensive.
Fact: Testing for radon is easy and inexpensive, either by testing your home yourself or hiring a qualified radon testing professional. It has been shown that long-term testing kits, for at least 90 days, are more accurate than short-term kits.
3. Myth: It is impossible to fix a home with radon problems.
Fact: Many homes have already been successfully fixed. The cost radon problems can be fixed by qualified radon mitigation contracts for about the same cost as other home repairs.
4. Myth: Radon affects only certain types of homes.
Fact: Radon can affect any type of home: old or new, drafty or insulated, and with or without basements. The primary factors that affect radon levels in homes are local soils, construction materials, and building methods.
5. Myth: Radon occurs in only certain areas of the country.
Fact: Radon levels do tend to be higher in certain areas, but they have occurred in all 50 states. The only way to be certain your house does not contain radon is to test it.
6. Myth: If my neighbor has/doesn’t have radon, it must be the same for me.
Fact: This is not true. Radon levels do vary greatly between homes. The only way to be sure your home does not have a radon problem is to test it.
7. Myth: Everyone should also test their water for radon.
Fact: Radon can get into homes through ground water, but it is most important to test the air first. While radon gets into some homes through water, it is important to first test the air in the home for radon. If your water comes from a public water supply that uses ground water, call your water supplier. If high radon levels are found and the home has a private well, call the Safe Drinking Water Hotline at (800) 426-4791 for information on testing your water.
8. Myth: Selling a home with radon problems is difficult.
Fact: As long as the radon problems have been fixed, there is no problem selling a home. As a matter of fact, the added protection could be turned into a selling point.
9. Myth: It doesn’t make sense to check my home for radon because I’ve already lived here a long time.
Fact: Even if you’ve lived with an elevated radon level for many years, correcting it now will still reduce your risk for lung cancer.
10. Myth: Short-term tests don’t help determine whether or not to correct radon problems.
Fact: Short-term tests can be used to determine whether or not to reduce a high radon levels. If the short-term test result is close to pCi/L (pico Curies per Liter), it is difficult to determine whether the radon level is above or below that average throughout the years. Ideally, the level should be 2 pCi/L or lower to be safe.
In 2011 the federal government started a program to track the progress of the EPA and its partners. Their goal was to reduce radon levels in American homes across the nation. The Federal Radon Action Plan (FRAP) Scorecard was created to track which goals have been completed by February of 2016. Many of these goals included educating the public about the dangers of radon, especially in high risk areas such as Iowa. The EPA and its partners also worked with schools, daycare facilities, hospitals, and other public buildings to test for radon and mitigate if necessary.
As of February 2016 the Scorecard has been posted with the final results. The majority of their goals were completed. Each of these goals will help reduce radon levels in America and decrease future issues. The end goal is to completely erase radon gas levels, and the EPA is working furiously towards that goal.
The New Plan – National Radon Action Plan
The updated program (NRAP) aims to reduce radon in five million American homes and save 3,200 lives annually in the process. By 2020 they want to have this plan completely implemented. The EPA is partnering with the American Lung Association to fight avoidable lung cancer cases caused by radon.
Ameriserv wants to help fight high radon gas levels in America. We offer radon testing and radon mitigation services to Iowa homes and businesses. Contact us today to learn more about radon and what you can do to fight back, too. Not only will you be protecting yourself from the harms of radon gas, you will be helping the future generations. Give us a call!