Radon and the controversy

Real Estate Agent with Keller Williams

It seems like RADON testing is getting more popular in Georgia. The EPA certainly has a lot of information about it and I don't question whether it's a health problem or not. The research makes sense.

My concern is more about the proper way of testing and the companies administering the testing. There are several ways to test. There are kits from Home Depot that are inexpensive, but take proper placement in the home and then must be mailed away for the results. Time is the issue, especially if the data is needed in order to meet a real estate deadline.

Most inspectors use the electronic measuring devices. They are set up for about 48 hours in the home and then the data is downloaded and printed out. The placement of the device is critical. If the unit is on the floor or close to the floor, then the levels of radon will register higher than normal.

I had one inspector who set the machine up in the basement totally in the correct manner, turned out the light in the room and closed the door. He did not know that the light switch also was wired to the wall plug and so when he turned out the light, he turned off the machine. His results showed high levels of radon. (not sure how or why) We had it retested with TWO different mcahines, plugged into TWO DIFFERENT wall plugs and the results proved it was lower and at a safe level.

Many of the inspectors who buy these machines have had minimum training. I sugegst that you go the EPA website and read about radon BEFORE the home is inspected. That way you will have the right questions and know more about the process.

Comments (3)

Hank Spinnler
Harmony Home Inspection Services of GA - Hoschton, GA
Atlanta Home Inspector

Al, you made some valid points.  In general, the real estate community keeps the subject of radon and radon testing on the down-low since it can be one more obstacle on the road to the closing table.

According to the EPA & Surgeons General, every home should be tested.  I repeatedly hear from prospective clients and agents that if the home is on a slab or is new, then there is no need to test.  That's simply false.

Certification is available through the National Enivornmental Health Association & National Radon Profeiciency Program.  Re-certification is required every 2 years.  To verify that your inspector is certified, here is a link to NEHA/NRPP Certified Measurement Providers in Georgia: http://www.radongas.org/measurement_template/GA.shtml

In a real estate transaction, testing by a properly trained radon testing company is recommended.  The minimum test time is 48 hours provided closed house conditions have been met.  My factory calibrated continuous monitors have a 0 delay or 12 hour delay setting.  I program it to a 12 hour delay if I was opening and closing doors and windows as part of a home inspection.  Here is a photo of a continous radon monitor:

Picture of a CRM

There is no known "safe level" for radon.  The World Health Organization has called for lowering the levels of radon gas from 4.0 pC/L to 2.7 pC/L.  I live and work in an area where elevated levels of radon are the norm and not the exception.  Still, the majority of home buyers pass on the offer to test.  Hey, if you can't see, taste, smell or touch it, what's the problem, right?

The good news is that if elevated levels of radon are detected, it can be fixed by a reputable radon mitigation professional. 

Nov 25, 2009 04:19 AM
Janet E. Campbell
Second Mile Radon Testing - Houlton, ME

Make sure that the radon tester has had proper training. A hardware store test kit in the hands of a properly trained individual is much better than a fancy monitor in the hands of someone who does not know how to use it. Your state's radon dept is a good place to start, and so is NEHA/NRPP.

Sep 22, 2010 06:27 AM
Bruce Breedlove
Avalon Inspection Services - Colorado Springs, CO

Janet said, "A hardware store test kit in the hands of a properly trained individual is much better than a fancy monitor in the hands of someone who does not know how to use it." That reminds me of the old saying, "A little knowledge can be dangerous." Proper training and continuing education are important, however a NEHA or NRSB certification is no guarantee the tester (or the mitigator) will do his work properly and ethically. Ask for references.

Sep 22, 2010 02:24 PM