Ever heard of radon? Well, friends, if not and you’re trying to buy a house in Portland you should probably get acquainted. And (trust us) it’s for the best. Not only is radon very common in our area, but you won’t even know if it’s in your house unless you specifically test for it. And it’s highly carcinogenic! Can we get a yikes? Fortunately, both testing and remediation are pretty easy and will not break the bank. But whether or not you test for radon during your home inspection period is entirely up to you. Here are the things to know so you can make the most informed decision possible:
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 the CDC, 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. That said, each home is unique! Your house could have low radon and your neighbors high, or vice versa, depending on a variety of factors.
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.