Understand the risk to your family by having your home’s radon level measured
Make sure that you have the information you need about radon and its risk if you are a home buyer or home owner in Western New York. The risk of exposure is real and significant, and once you understand the dangers and perform testing, you will be in a position to reduce radon to safer levels.
Radon is a radioactive and carcinogenic gas that is a byproduct of the decay of uranium (shown above in an abandoned mine), a metallic element that is present in very low levels in rock and soil throughout the world. Radon is released from deep within the earth, and travels upward until it reaches ground level. If a home is within its path, the gas may rise through the basement and become trapped in the house.
Once in the home, radon attaches to microscopic dust particles. If inhaled, these particles may lodge in the lungs and damage DNA, eventually causing cancer. The National Institutes of Health Cancer Center estimates that between 15,000 and 22,000 lung cancer deaths in the United States each year are related to radon exposure. The US Surgeon General Richard Carmona, in 2005, warned the public of the danger of radon. He stated that “Indoor radon is the second-leading cause of lung cancer in the United States and breathing it over prolonged”.
Radon is especially toxic at high levels. In many towns in Erie County over half of all radon tests have shown levels that require mitigation. It is a myth that homes in Buffalo, Amherst, Cheektowaga, Hamburg and Orchard Park do not have the potential for a radon problem.
We offer radon testing as a part of our comprehensive home inspection package, but if you are looking for radon testing alone, we are happy to help.
Radon testing requires a different set of skills and equipment than a regular home inspection in Buffalo.
Testing of radon levels is often performed at the same time as a home inspection, but probably half the time we perform the service on its own.
It is impossible to confirm the presence of radon in a building without proper radon measurement or testing.
While there are no acute symptoms, long-term exposure to radon is to blame for over 20,000 cases of lung cancer a year in the United States, second only to smoking. Unfortunately, the only symptom of radon exposure is lung cancer.
Unsafe levels of radon are present in Buffalo, along with every town and village in Western NY, despite the guidance offered by just a few real estate agents.
We use continuous radon monitors for testing, which provide results much faster than charcoal canister testing, which must be sent to a downstate lab for analysis.
Radon is a colorless and odorless gas, which means its presence cannot be established without proper equipment. Further, long-term exposure to radon has serious health implications and even death.
Testing for radon is not required, and many home buyers are tight on cash during the home purchase process and view the testing fee as an unneeded expense. We view radon testing and home inspections both as services to the community and recommend that buyers have both services performed before moving into a new home.
This is the typical radon test performed prior to a home purchase. To provide quicker results to you, we have invested in continuous radon monitor (CRM) technology, an electronic device that provides results from air testing immediately upon completion. The difference to you as a home buyer is that instead of waiting at least two days after the test ends to receive your results, there is no waiting. Conventional testing provides results four days after the test begins, CRM technology requires only two days!
Radon gas incorporates into ground water, which then is used as water for homes with wells. The gas is then discharged when water comes into contact with the air while showering or otherwise running water. Understanding your exposure will allow you to mitigate the risk. Contact us to arrange for this simple and affordable test.
We follow EPA guidelines when testing levels of radon in a home. While granite can often contain radium, which decays into radon, testing of the counter directly is not necessary or helpful. We test the ambient air in the home for radon, which includes radon that is released from the countertop.
As a gas, radon moves in mysterious ways through bedrock, groundwater and soil. The level of radon gas in your home depends not only on its location, but the specific geology immediately below your home, as well as the construction of the home. We recommend that everyone understand the radon level in their home by having their house tested.
A continuous radon monitor, or CRM, is an electronic device that is used to measure radon levels in homes. They allow you to see results of radon testing as soon as the test is over, instead of waiting 2-4 days as traditional methods require. CRM’s are calibrated annually, and undergo cross checking and other validation tests to ensure that they provide highly accurate results.
I can only assume that some home inspectors use charcoal canisters because they are easier to obtain and use. New York State regulates CRMs in order to protect homeowners from home inspectors and other who otherwise would choose to purchase the highly sophisticated instruments and never calibrate them or perform other important quality checks.
The truth is that they provide results far too slowly in my opinion for use during a real estate transaction. Many inspection contingencies allow for 5 days for inspections and testing, canister radon measurement most typically takes all of 5 days.
Average prices in Buffalo and Western NY are between $1000-2000, with most mitigation work being on the lower end of that range.
To ensure that you are using a qualified mitigation company, I recommend to my clients that they choose a radon mitigator certified by the NRPP.
Simply put, we started the business in order to provide an objective and unbiased opinion to protect homeowners and property investors.
We cannot be unbiased if we are identifying a problem such as high radon gas levels, fixing the problem, then validating that we fixed it. That does not make sense to us.
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