This week we will discuss something near and dear to the heart of the CDC that is NOT COVID.  Since the CDC has declared January as National Radon Action Month, what better time to discuss radon.  So what is Radon?   The CDC defines radon as a “radioactive gas that forms naturally when uranium, thorium, or radium, which are radioactive metals, break down in rocks, soil and groundwater”.  It is a colorless, odorless gas that can come up from the ground through cracks and gaps in the foundation of your home. What is it important to learn more about radon?  It is the second leading cause of lung cancer only behind cigarette smoking.

You can purchase at-home testing kits from many retailers between $10 – $30, however you could hire a professional test to be performed for between $100 – $150.  The professional test will be more accurate as the inspector will have a better sense as to where to place the test kit and how to manage the administration.  Essentially, a test kit will be placed in the lowest ‘liveable’ space in the house away from drafts, exterior walls, or drains. After two (2) days, the test kit will be pulled and administered.  If over the course of the 48 hour testing period, the average  readings reflect at or above 4.0 picocuries per liter or higher, the radon levels are above EPA regulations and mitigation is recommended. It is best to test for radon in the winter months because typically, houses are closed up with minimal outside air flow.

Radon mitigation systems cost approximately $1200 – 1500. Typically, a small hole is drilled through the foundation of the house. A PVC pipe is attached to the hole that funnels the radon outside of the house. The system operates on a fan that runs 24/7 and is equivalent to powering a 25 watt light bulb.

Unless you are buying a condo on the 2nd or 3rd floor of a building complex, as a Buyer’s agent  I almost always recommend testing for radon.  Here’s why… let’s say you are buying a house.  One of the inspection contingencies is a radon inspection contingency.  Historically, the buyer will order and pay for the inspection.  If radon levels are above EPA regulations of 4.0 picocuries/liter, mitigation is recommended, usually at the sellers’ cost ($1500-ish). You elect NOT to have radon tested. In ten (10) years, your needs change and you list your house. The buyer of your house tests for radon and it reads above EPA regulations. Not only have you been living with radon for the last ten years, now the buyer is asking you to pay for the mitigation. My suggestion: test for radon on the front end of home ownership.

In my experience, houses in the greater Morgantown area have ‘pockets’ of higher radon readings.  I can’t say one area has higher levels and another has lower readings. There are many internet sites which can provide more research on radon.  I would recommend additional research and if you’re buying a house, test for radon.   Until next week, Love where you Live.  And if you don’t… contact your local REALTOR®.

Brian Haufe, 2022 MBOR President