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Radon: How Does It Affect You and the Sale of Your Home?
Radon is an odorless, colorless, radioactive gas that has been shown to cause lung cancer in humans. Radon gas exists naturally in soil - it is created as various elements of earth decompose. Therefore, it is often found in the basements of homes, entering through fissures, and it can also be present in upper floors.
According to the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), exposure to radon gas ranks second to cigarette smoking as a cause for lung cancer. Other scientists dispute that a link between illness and home-based radon has ever been reliably established.
But whether or not the gas is posing a threat to your health, increasing number of home-buyers are asking that a home be tested for radon before they agree to purchase. Most sale contracts have a contingency for radon testing.
There are professional companies that can inspect your home for the presence of radon. If the gas is found in amounts that exceed guidelines established by the EPA for acceptable levels of radon, there are also companies that can recommend ways to reduce the interior radon concentrations to levels within the EPA's guidelines.
Radon levels are measured in picocuries, a unit of measurement for radioactive gases. Under EPA guidelines, 4 picocuries of radon per liter of indoor air is the "action level," meaning something should be done to reduce the presence of radon at the affected location. If you get an initial reading of more than 4 picocuries per liter you should consider having another test done. Experts say radon tests can be inaccurate, so you may want to double-check the levels before you undertake installation of a radon-abatement system.
If a buyer wants a radon test, ask that he or she give you a copy of the results at no cost. If repairs are necessary to reduce radon, make sure the contingency you've agreed to with the buyer has a ceiling on how much money you have to spend to fix the problem.
You may want to have your house tested before you put it on the market. If you have no radon problem, you can provide certification of this to potential buyers. If there is a problem, you can either take steps to solve it, or wait and negotiate with the buyer about who will pay for the fix.
Mitigating the levels of radon in your home usually involves installing a fan- type apparatus that will suction the gas from under your home's foundation or elsewhere and carry it outdoors where it can dissipate. Other systems involve forcing fresh air under your house so that the radon will be channeled out, or installing a filtration devices throughout the house.
For more information on radon, you may want to read some of the materials on a web site called www.Radon.com and others.