Real Estate Buyers and Sellers – Radon
Anyone purchasing a home in the Tahoe-Truckee area should have a radon test performed! Unfortunately, most people buy improved real estate without this important test. Consumer awareness is low in Nevada and more so in California when compared to other states with a similar incidence of radon. There are also no laws requiring testing, as in some states. Many real estate professionals are not emphasizing the importance of this because they may not be aware of the risk.
Radon gas is everywhere, especially the Tahoe area and Nevada. It is the bi-product of naturally decomposing radium and uranium deep within the earth’s crust. The gas is released and rises to the surface where it either mixes with the outside air or gets trapped by structures. There are areas of the country and local regions where the incidence of elevated radon increases. This in no way should stop you from testing in low-risk areas. Next-door neighbors can have very different levels, and people in low-risk areas can have very high levels! Estimates show 1 in 5 homes in the local area could be above the EPA’s 4.0 picocurie action level.
- The Surgeon General says radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States.
- There is no safe level of radon. A home at 3.9 average picocuries is not much healthier than one at 4.0.
- The amount of time someone is exposed to elevated radon, and the levels they are exposed to influence a persons’ total exposure risk.
At this point, there is no scientific data regarding radon gas showing immediate short term-effects like congestion, sore throat, or headaches.
More Information About Radon
Radon mitigation is the process by which a system is installed to lessen the levels of radon in a home. Systems typically range from a couple thousand to over ten thousand dollars and can be very effective. There are some rare cases where a home can’t effectively be mitigated. Radon mitigation should typically be performed and home retested prior to closing the sale to prevent getting stuck with a radon problem.
This is why it is important to know the radon levels in the home you plan to purchase before removing your contingencies. All too often consumers test their home years after the purchase, just to find out they have been living in a high radon environment. At that point it is too late to ask the seller to fix the problem, and too late to prevent exposure to you and your family.
Common Radon Misconceptions:
- Installing plastic over the floor in a crawlspace will greatly reduce radon levels in a home.
- Adding ventilation to a home or crawlspace will greatly reduce radon levels in the home.
- A home that is left vacant for a long time will have higher levels than one that is lived in.
- Since the seller lived in the house for 30 years without having health problems, the house must not have elevated radon. (Often it takes many years before there are health effects of radon exposure).
- A good radon system should never cost more than $3,000.
- All radon mitigation contractors will provide identical installations, and all installers are providing durable and effective products.
Buyers Guide to Real Estate Inspections