Awareness Home Inspection Services, LLC

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Home      Radon
      So what is radon?
     Currently, the EPA lists radon as the second leading cause of lung cancer, attributing over 21,000 cancer deaths per year to radon exposure. Radon is an inert naturally occurring gas. It is produced as uranium 238 in the earth decays, the process by which the uranium will eventually become lead. Radon gas exists is some quantity almost everywhere, but obviously, more so in areas that have more uranium 238. Central Maryland typically has high concentrations of radon, and even more as you travel West. Carroll and Frederick counties are typically considered as having the average highest concentrations but it is found in Baltimore, Howard, Harford, Montgomery, Anne Arundel, and Prince George's Counties as well. The highest concentrations will be in the lower levels of the home, typically the basement. Living in a home with high levels of radon can cause the same potential for lung cancer as smoking a pack of cigarettes a day. For more information on radon, please visit the EPA website and download "A Citizen's Guide To Radon."
     But my new home doesn't have a basement. It is a myth that homes without a basement, or homes with basements only partially under the ground surface cannot have radon. ANY HOME can have radon. And, radon is spread through the home by your heating and air conditioning systems so radon will be in the first and second floors, although at typically lower concentrations.
     Testing for Radon - Short term testing vs. long term testing; There are several EPA approved test methods for radon levels in a home. Probably the best test is what is known as a "Long Term" test but these are impractical for the transfer of real estate. Long term testing lasts anywhere from 8 to 90 (90 days is considered best) days and typically, there are only 10 days or less to get your inspections done if you are buying a home. I do offer long term tests, using an EPA approved RSSI Alpha track radon detector if you can wait for the 90 days. For real estate transfers, the EPA recommends a "Short term" test, lasting a minimum of 48 hours and no more than 96 hours. The test can be conducted using a variety of test equipment but most test persons use activated charcoal canisters, electret ion chambers (E-Perm), or a Continuous Radon Monitor (CRM). The first two will give you a number to compare to the EPA recommended action level, currently 4.0. This number represents the average amount of radon measured in pico-Curie/liter (pCi/L) units. No other information will be available from the tests performed with the first two devices, but a CRM can give us more information. Radon is variable hour-by-hour in a home. It rises and falls with barometric pressure and the pressure on the soil, open doors and windows, rain, etc. A CRM can be capable of giving you those hour-by-hour readings so you can have more information to help you decide if the home should have radon mitigation installed. Additionally, The monitors I use will show motion detection, or, show if someone moved the test monitor. I use a Sun Nuclear 1028 CRM and you can see a sample of a radon report that I will interpret from this instrument by clicking here.
                                                              Sun Nuclear 1028 CRM
     If you are concerned because you don't know  the level of radon in your existing home, or a home you are in the process of purchasing, please call me and arrange for testing. The fee is $125.00 with a home inspection, $150.00 for just the radon test alone, and I will give you the printed results of the test when I pick up the monitor after the test is complete. Long term tests are $175.00 and I need to send the test away to a lab which will add another week to the time. My certification to perform testing is through the AARST-NRPP, #106005 RT.
Sincerely, Charlie Rice, A.C.I.

443 538 6921