Radon is a colorless, odorless, and very dangerous gas. Radon gas is created from the radioactive decay of uranium and radium in our soil. Radon is a natural source of radiation, which can be very harmful to adults, children, and pets. Radon gas seeps into our homes through any crack it can find. Once inside, radon disperses throughout our homes sometimes rising to dangerous, cancer-causing, levels. According to the Environmental Protection Agency radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States behind smoking and the leading cause for non-smokers.
Testing is the only way to know if a home or business' levels of radon are high, but there is no known safe level of exposure. That sounds a little scary so here are some numbers from the EPA to help clarify.
We are exposed to trace amounts of radon everyday. But once radon concentrations reach 2pCi/L the EPA suggests mitigation. Unfortunately, in our tri-state area of Delaware, Pennsylvania, and Maryland, we are aware of levels as high as 177 PCi/L (picocuries per liter). In some areas, the local radon office reports 1 in 4 homes with levels above 4 pCi/L. In general higher levels of radon have a strong negative impact on indoor air quality.
The gas seeps through any access point into a home. Common entry points are cracks in the foundation, poorly sealed pipes, drainage, or any other loose point. Once in the home, the gas can collect in certain areas especially basements and other low lying, closed areas and build up over time to dangerous levels. As we, and our furry, scaly, and feathery friends are exposed to the gas over a period of years, the gas can have significant, and deadly effects.
The Radon Inspection
Conducted by professionals certified by the NRPP (National Radon Proficiency Program)
An initial radon inspection can be included with a home inspection or independently.
How much time it takes:
Our inspectors need 10 minutes without a home inspection for the best placement of the devices.
No extra time is required when paired with a home inspection
The electrets (how we test the radon levels in the home) need 48 hours to take a reliable reading
After that 48 hours, we'll send a technician by to pick them up
In 95% of cases, you get the results the same day we pick up the electrets. (If it's a particularly late pick up you may get the results the next morning.)
Unobtrusive, this is a passive test so it won't hurt you, your family, or your pets. You may even forget it's happening!
Please keep windows closed for more accurate test results.
The inspection is good for two years, after that the EPA recommends getting tested again.
Note: This page is about residential radon testing, for information about commercial or large-scale radon testing click here.
What the Test Results Mean
If your radon levels are 4pCi/L or greater, then we, the EPA, the Surgeon General, the CDC, and the state offices in Delaware, Pennsylvania, and Maryland all recommend a radon mitigation program. If you are interested in pursing radon mitigation with us please click here.
The EPA recommends "that Americans consider fixing their home for radon levels between 2pCi/L and 4pCi/L." If you would like to fix, reduce, or mitigate radon with us, then please check out our mitigation page, here.
Congratulations! Your radon levels are low. You don't need to pursue radon mitigation. Remember the EPA recommends testing every two years or with any additions or renovations you may add to your home.
The Radon Certification Act Requires that anyone who provides any radon-related service or product to the general public must be certified by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection. You are entitled to evidence of certification from any person who provides such services or products. You are also entitled to a price list of services or products offered. All radon measurements data will be sent to the department as required in the act and will be kept confidential. If you have any questions, comments or complaints concerning persons who provide radon-related services, please contact the department at the Bureau of Radiation Protection, Department of Environmental Protection, P.O. Box 8469, Harrisburg, PA 17105-8469, (717) 783-3594 or (800) 237-2366.
Commonly Asked Questions
Q: How long does a radon inspection take?
A: If you're getting any kind of home inspection the radon inspection won't add a significant amount of time. But if the radon inspection is scheduled without a home inspection please allow our qualified professionals up to an hour.
Q: How long does the radon test take?
A: The radon test takes 48 hours, after that, an environmental technician will pick up the tests.
Q: Do the results need to go to a lab?
A: No, we can read the results in our office!
Q: When will I get the results of my radon test?
A: The same day the technician goes to pick them up for pick-ups before 4:00 pm. Pick-ups after 4:00 pm may be read the next morning.
Q: If radon is radioactive, then are the devices used to test it also radioactive?
A: No, the electrets we use to test for radon are harmless. They are not radioactive.
Q: Will the devices hurt my children or my pets?
A: Nope! The electrets are harmless and it's a passive test.
Q: Is there anything I need to do for the inspection?
A: Please keep the windows closed and the doors closed as much as possible for the duration of the 48hr test.
Radon Health Effects
Long-term exposure to radon gas is often deadly. Radon is the leading cause of lung cancer in non-smokers and the 2nd leading cause in smokers. Every year in the United States, around 21,000 people die due to radon-related lung cancer. Your risk is increased by both the levels of radon in your home and your time of exposure.
If you are a smoker or have recently quit smoking, or have a family history of lung cancer you are at a higher risk from radon. Children may also be at higher risk.
The EPA has set the radon action level at 4.0 Picocuries/liter. This is the level at which a homeowner should have their home's radon mitigated. However, exposure to any level of radon can have damaging effects and homes above 2.0 pc/l should consider radon mitigation.