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What is Radon and Why is Regular Testing Important?

Date Published: 10/22/2020 [Source]

If you're in the process of purchasing a home and are wondering if you should have the property tested for radon during the inspection, the answer is yes. But radon testing is not a one-and-done practice. Regardless of whether your property passes or fails during the initial inspection, follow-up testing is critical.

What is radon?

Radon is a colorless, odorless gas that is produced by decaying uranium. It's present in nearly all soils and, according to the American Cancer Society, very low levels of radon are found in the air we breathe every day.

While we are constantly exposed to radon, serious health issues can arise when this radioactive gas is trapped indoors. Radon is the leading cause of lung cancer for non-smokers, making it the second leading cause of lung cancer in the U.S. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that lung cancer caused by radon exposure kills approximately 21,000 Americans every year.

High levels of radon are found in every state across the country, in every type of home or building, regardless of age or whether it has a basement. The Radon Act 51, passed by Congress in 1987, set the target for indoor radon levels at 4 pCi/L. According to the EPA, two-thirds of American homes exceed that number.

When should testing be done?

As mentioned, it's recommended that radon testing be done during the home inspection phase of a real estate transaction. While it's not part of a standard home inspection, it is typically available as an add-on for around $100.

"The problem is that even if buyers pay for a radon test during the home inspection, they don't always pursue further testing," said Salina Murton, certified radon inspector with Accurate Inspections, LLC. "A one-time test is great for knowing radon levels in your home at a particular point, but radon is constantly in motion and levels can vary over time."