Radon is a radioactive gas that has been found in homes across the United States. It is caused by the natural breakdown of uranium in soil, rock and water, which finally instills itself in the air many breathe. Radon typically moves up through the ground and into the home through cracks and holes in the foundation.
According to research from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, nearly one out of every 15 homes is estimated to have elevated levels of radon. The U.S. Surgeon General Health Advisory has found that indoor radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the U.S.
The EPA recommends that all houses, regardless of radon zone be tested for radon levels during the point of sale. The most common way this is performed is when a buyer requests it as part of the overall home inspection.
If high levels of radon are found, it is recommended that the buyer request that the seller install a radon mitigation system to bring the amount down to a safer level.
If a seller decides to test the home prior to sale, almost all states require that the test results be disclosed to potential buyers. If the test comes back negative, the buyer may request another test for confirmation.
Vacant homes can be tested for radon, as they are known to have lower or higher levels due to their sealed closure. If the home is opened up for ventilation purposes prior to the test, it should be closed again, and the test should be conducted no sooner than 12 hours afterward.