So you have an accepted offer and now you’re talking about home inspections. The word “radon” will probably get thrown around as it is pretty commonly found in the Portland area. Should you test for it or not? Is it something you should worry about? Can you get rid of radon if you have it? We hope this overview on the subject can help you make a more informed decision.
What is radon?
Radon is an odorless, colorless, tasteless radioactive gas that is released when uranium decays in rocks, soil, and water. Radon concentrates in buildings when it enters through cracks in the basement concrete, holes in pipes, and air rising from crawl spaces.
Is radon dangerous?
Inhalation of radon can cause damage to lungs. According to studies, radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer and the leading environmental cause of cancer mortality. Pets can also be affected by high radon concentrations.
Is radon common in the Portland area?
Radon has been detected in homes in every Portland neighborhood, though some areas tend to have a much greater risk of having high radon levels. About half of the homes in North and Northeast Portland, for example, test for radon above the Environmental Protection Act’s (EPA) 4 pCi/L recommended action level.
What should I know about radon when purchasing or selling a home?
A buyer’s agent should request radon test information from the seller. If the radon levels are known, this information must be disclosed by law. A certified radon measuring professional should be hired to conduct a test if the seller does not have a third-party radon results. If the radon concentration exceeds 4 pCi/L, mitigation is recommended.
What is radon mitigation?
Radon mitigation involves reducing the radon level to below 4 pCi/L by preventing radon entry into the building. The most common and cost-effective method is a process called active soil depressurization (ASD). Using suction pipes and an inline fan, an ASD system creates a vacuum beneath the basement floor, concrete slab, or crawlspace to intercept and reroute radon above the roofline. The costs of an ASD system is usually in the $800-$3,000 range.
Curious about the possibility of radon in your home (or potential home)? Over the years, Scout agents have worked with a number of local companies that test and mitigate for radon. Scouts are always happy to offer an opinion on who to call – just ask!
Map image courtesy of Oregon Health Authority.