Alban Inspections, Inc. Offers Free Radon Test with Home Inspection
January is Radon Awareness Month, so get your buyer’s radon test for free from Alban until the end of February. The Maryland Realtor Magazine for December and January contains a short but concise discussion of this issue. Frankly, this is all a Realtor needs to know about radon in order to represent buyers and sellers appropriately.
Alban has been testing homes and other type buildings for twenty-five years, including a 96-test location study of the IRS building in Martinsburg W. Va. years ago. We have amassed a large body of data on the geography of high radon levels. Sorry, but this is worthless data, because two adjacent houses can have totally differing radon levels. Subterranean ground conditions and pressure differentials result to more or less radon being sucked into a home.
The science behind how radon causes lung cancer once breathed in by an occupant is interesting.
Radon starts as uranium with an atomic weight of 235. There are heavy concentrations of uranium which is mined, but it is also literally scatter throughout earth’s mantle. Uranium is decaying solid matter with a half-life of 4 billion years, so it decays very slowly. As it decays, however, it passes through several decay products and ultimately becomes lead, atomic weight of 204, also a solid material. However, along the way, it becomes radon, a gas, with an atomic weight of 222. As a gas, we breathe it into our lungs along with oxygen and other gases. The radon molecule unfortunately is unstable with a half life of 3.8 days. With this quick decay rate and the fact that as it decays, alpha and beta particles are emitted. These particles strike our genes, causing mutations and resulting in lung cancer.
Alban test results have found some surprising radon levels. My house in Bethesda routinely measures less than 1 picocuries/litter (pCi/L) of air.
Yet just a few miles away near the corner of Tuckerman and Falls Roads in the first community on Falls Chapel Way, we found a reading in a Potomac home over 180 pCi/L. The EPA recommended remediation level is 4.0 pCi/L. While a homebuilder, we built a community in Germantown that later measured greater than 4 pCi/L in almost every home. As a generalization, the further west in Virginia and Maryland away from metropolitan DC that a house is located, radon levels tend to be higher. But radon levels above the 4.0 pCi/L remediation level have been found in every county in Maryland and Virginia. Also, radon levels tend to be higher when the ground is frozen, since radon gas cannot dissipate easily through the frozen soil.
Montgomery County, Maryland, now requires a radon test with every real estate sale, unless a test within one year had been previously conducted.
Realtors® are up to speed on this. Alban offers a professionally conducted radon test for free with every home inspection we conduct between now and the end of February. It is safe to say that failure to inform a home buying client about the radon issue is a liability issue. Fully inform your clients about radon and call Alban for their home inspection and free radon test.