Radon in the Cincinnati Area

The EPA and the Ohio Department of Health have named January as the Radon Action Month in order to make homeowners more aware of the risks of high levels of Radon and its possible effect on health, particularly the links to lung cancer.

Radon is a radioactive gas that has been found in homes. It is particularly prevalent in areas where there is coal and gas deposits. It comes from the natural breakdown of uranium in the soil, rock and water and gets into the air you breathe. Radon typically moves up through the ground to the air above and into your home through cracks and other holes in the foundation or the basement floor. Radon can also enter your home through well water and your home can trap the radon inside.

Radon knows no boundaries.  It is not found more in old rather than new homes, in the city more than the suburbs, in homes with basements more than those on a slab.  It is found in homes which is where you spend most of your time.  You can't smell it, and it can result in serious health issues.  So if you have never tested your home, you should.

Pillar to Post Home Inspections has supplied me with most of the up to date information about Radon and I suggest you call them (513.771.6689) or another radon inspection company to test your home and, if necessary, you should make sure that you have a reliable radon mitigation system installed.  The relatively minor expense will be more value than you could possibly expect and even if you do not stay much longer in this house, it will be less aggravation for you when you sell it.

Nearly 1 out of every 15 homes in the United States is estimated to have an elevated radon level (4 pCi/L or more). Most builders do not build in a radon mitigation system when they build homes either.  So even if you are having a house built, don't assume that it is safe until you have had it tested for radon. In fact, in my experience the radon likelihood in areas of new construction, is higher than in the city.

If you are thinking of buying a home, you may be asked  to accept an earlier test result from the seller. It is tempting to do this, however, and there are several reasons why it would be better to have your own independent test.

  • Radon mitigation systems do not work forever.  It may need repair.
  • If any construction has taken place in the home, the system may not be working at all.
  • If the basement has been finished since the system was installed, the system may not work efficiently.
  • Changes in the heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems may also change the effect of the radon mitigation system.

If you decide to do a radon test, here are some suggestions:

  • Make sure that a qualified person does the testing.
  • An average above 4 pCi/L is considered dangerous and needs to be mitigated.
  • When you read the print out from the test, you will see high levels and low levels that may average out to less than the benchmark.  I suggest that you think about these levels and make a decision as to whether the house needs to be treated. I have had clients who are uncomfortable with the high levels, even though the average is below the benchmark.  There are some things you can do to lessen the radon intrusion without having a complete mitigation system.

Things to do to lessen the intrusion of radon if the 4 pCi/L is not reached:

  • Seal the cracks in the basement floor and the foundation
  • Seal around the sump pump.

Just because your neighbor has a low radon level doesn't mean that you will. Get your own test and live a long life without worry. It's worth it!

For more information about radon you can go to www.epa.gov/radon/pubs/index.html or www.radon.utoledo.edu

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