Q. Should a 4.9 Radon Test Result Be Mitigated?

Q. Hey Mark,
I’m selling my home and the buyers inspector did a radon test. The result was 4.9, and they said I had to have a mitigation system installed. That’s not very high. Why do I have to have it fixed?
Bob

A. Hey Bob,
Technically, there are no federal laws that require you to do anything about the radon in your home. You are free to live in it, just as you are free to choose to smoke 4 packs of cigarettes a day. It is your choice, and you can choose the levels and risk you are comfortable with. However your buyers, as a stipulation in their contingency for purchasing your home have requested that you have the radon level fixed. It appears that this request is based on the EPA’s mitigation level recommendations.

There is no such thing as a safe level of radon. Just like there is no “safe” number of cigarettes you can smoke a day. Therefore what we want to do is reduce the health risks of radon by reducing it as much as is practically possible. The EPA recommends that if your radon level is below 2.0 pCi/L that with today’s technology, we really can’t practically reduce the radon levels much more than that, so the home should be re-tested every two years to make sure it hasn’t increased. If your levels are greater than 2 and less that 4 pCi/L then you should consider having a system installed to try to reduce it below 2. If your levels are 4 or above, the EPA strongly suggests that you definitely have the home mitigated (but even then there is no requirement to do so).

The risks are real. Statistics have shown that living in a home with a radon level of 4.0 pCi/L, is equivalent to your risk of dying in a car accident. We all wear seatbelts to help reduce that risk. Therefore common sense tells us that if by installing a relatively low cost device in our home we can reduce our lung cancer risks as well, we should do that.

I hope that helps.
Mark

Mark Nahrgang is the owner of Kingdom Inspection Network Group – St. Louis and is a professional NACHI certified building inspector in the St. Louis metro area. Mark performs home inspections as well as commercial inspections throughout St. Louis and St. Charles County.

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3 Responses

  1. Hi Bob,

    I agree with Mark entirely but it is worth adding that if in fact you bought the home or are buying the home you should have a long term test set. Alpha track tests work great for this and can give you the average year round average of your radon concentration. The concentration is usually higher in the winter and after enough rain to seal the ground surface. To the opposite radon levels are lower when the temp. in your home and the temp. of the exterior are closer due to pressure. Also never have a test set when the ground is totally saturated as this will give lower readings due to the lack of air spaces for the radon to permeate through.

  2. You have made some decent points there. I looked on the internet for
    more info about the issue and found most people will go along with your views
    on this web site.

  3. You state “The concentration is usually higher in the winter and after enough rain to seal the ground surface.”, but then go on to say “. ….when the ground is totally saturated as this will give lower readings due to the lack of air spaces for the radon to permeate through.”. How can that be. One appears to contradict the other.
    Martin Henderson

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