A radon test by homeowners and potential buyers to check indoor air quality shouldn’t be overlooked. Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States. It is the number one cause of lung cancer among non-smokers, according to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates.
Radon, which causes no immediate health symptoms, is a radioactive gas. Unable to see, smell or taste this elemental soil gas, it is formed by the natural breakdown of uranium in the earth, it is found in varying concentrations all over the world.
While smoking is the leading cause of lung cancer with an estimated 160,000 cancer deaths in the U.S. every year, radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer. It’s responsible for about 21,000 lung cancer deaths every year compared to 3,000 deaths caused by secondhand smoke.
In 2005, a national health advisory was issued by the Surgeon General warning the American public about the risks of breathing indoor radon. Americans were urged to prevent this silent radioactive gas from seeping into their homes and building up to dangerous levels.
Included in the 2005 news release the EPA estimated that one in every 15 homes nationwide had a high radon level at or above the recommended radon action level.
It is recommended you test your home for radon every two years, and retest any time you move, make structural changes to your home, or occupy a previously unused level of a house.
The EPA has a map listing radon zones but cautions that homes have been found with radon in all three zones and recommends using it in conjunction with available local data. Although the map is a general guide it should not be used to determine if a home in a given zone should be tested for radon.
The EPA has a list of frequently asked questions about radon to view here.
A number of tools and resources for use by the real estate community can be viewed here.