Q. Radon Levels in a Neighborhood

Q. Hey Mark,

I have a listing, and the buyer’s inspector did a Radon test. I am concerned that the test may have been done improperly. The results came back at 4.6 but I know of three other properties in the same neighborhood that recently had radon tests performed, and they came back with no radon.

A. Your comment intrigues me. If what you are relating to me is correct, then I would say the three properties you mentioned were the ones that had improper testing. Radon gas is everywhere. All homes are going to have some level of radon. The EPA says the average indoor level is 1.3 pCi/L. If a radon test measures 0 for radon in a home, the probability is great that the testing was performed improperly or was somehow tampered with. (It is possible the levels were too low for the monitor to detect within its level of accuracy, but that is almost unheard of, and I have never seen it occur.)

For the purpose of this post, I am going to assume that somewhere along the line a misunderstanding occurred in regards to the radon levels in the neighborhood homes. I believe what probably happened is that the other three homes were tested, but the results came back under the EPA’s suggested mitigation level of 4.0 pCi/L. Therefore, no action was taken in regard to the real estate transaction.

The amount of Radon gas found in a home is related to three conditions: source, proximity, and pathway. There has to be a source of radon in the earth relatively close to the home, and there has to be a pathway for the gas to travel from the source to the home. It could be that one home has very low levels of radon, while the home next door has extremely high levels because the pathways are different. Perhaps the pathway is blocked or obscured under some homes, yet is detoured directly into another home. The pathways also change with various conditions. Soils expand and contract. Basement slabs develop cracks. Homes are remodeled. The fact that a neighbor’s home tested high or low, is not a strong indicator of the levels in other nearby homes.

For these reasons the EPA suggests that EVERY home involved in a real estate transaction be tested, and then retested every other year.


One Response

  1. I would say 4.6 is high, very high. I would have a radon mitigation system put in!

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