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January is National Radon Awareness Month

By Tom Sutko, Certified Radon Measurement Specialist

With January being recognized as National Radon Awareness Month, homeowners are reminded of the importance of testing for radon levels in homes – especially those in the Nebraska or Iowa, because that’s where the highest concentrations of radon are found in the U.S.

Radon is a cancer-causing, radioactive gas that you can’t see, taste or smell. It comes from the natural breakdown of uranium in our soil, rock and water. Radon typically moves up through the ground to the air above and into your home through cracks and other holes in your foundation.

When you breathe air containing radon, it increases the risk of getting lung cancer. In fact, according to the U.S. Surgeon General, radon is the second-leading cause of lung cancer in the U.S. Although some scientists dispute the precise number of deaths due to radon, all major health organizations (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, American Lung Association and the American Medical Association) agree that radon causes thousands of preventable lung cancer deaths per year. This is especially true among smokers, since the risk to smokers is much greater than nonsmokers.

Radon can be a problem in all types of homes: old or new, drafty or insulated, ones with basements and those without. It’s based on the local geology and the construction materials/processes used when building your home.

As strange as it might seem, your neighbor’s test result is not a good indication of your home’s radon concern. So it’s recommended that you test your own home for your family’s safety. The good news is that these tests can be easily conducted with approved measurement devices.

There are two types of radon testing devices:

  1. Passive devices don’t need power to function. The most common passive device is the inexpensive charcoal-activated test kit that usually sells for $5 to $25. It is designed to absorb radon products over time. Although it’s less expensive, it has certain disadvantages: most notably, you can’t read the results on site. The homeowner must send a test kit to a lab so that the results can be analyzed to generate the radon level, and the results often aren’t available for up to 7 days. The device is also most sensitive to “temperature and relative humidity” levels, not to mention airflow variances as well.
  2. Active devices need power to function, but are more accurate. AmeriSpec Omaha and Lincoln uses an active device called a continuous radon monitor (CRM) that is designed to continually read radon levels for 48 hours without the fear of interference from outside factors such as temperature and air flow. Results are immediately available to your AmeriSpec certified measurement specialist. Cost of these tests, when conducted by a licensed/certified radon measurement company, ranges from $100 to $130. These tests are often a requirement of a real estate transaction.

It is important to note that the type of device you select greatly depends on the trust level of the individual setting the test, since the results can be easily manipulated. If you have the time and the ability to control the test, the inexpensive charcoal-activated type might be just for you.

But if you’re buying a home and can’t control the environment, or may not be able to control the temperature and air flow in your home very well, utilizing the CRM type of device is the preferred option for all real estate transactions. Calling a licensed/certified third-party radon measurement company such as AmeriSpec to perform the test can ultimately ensure your family’s safety.

To make an appointment for radon testing or for more information, please call AmeriSpec Omaha and Lincoln at (402) 393-3696. Or make an appointment online at http://amerispecne.com/request-an-appointment/

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