Radon has become an increasingly persistent concern over the years, as it can only be detected through testing. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) considers it highly dangerous because you may be unknowingly inhaling or ingesting it. In some locations it’s actually in the water supply, and for others it’s found in the basement/crawl space. The EPA estimates that nearly 1 in 15 homes has elevated radon levels. But what is it, and what are the risks?
What is Radon?
Radon is a naturally-occurring radioactive gas that is the second leading cause of lung cancer. It is colorless, odorless, and tasteless. It is released by decaying uranium in the soil. Outdoors, radon is able to readily disperse and is generally not a health issue. Indoors, however, radon gas becomes trapped after it enters buildings through cracks and other holes in the foundation.
Prolonged exposure to concentrated levels of radon can be extremely dangerous. According to the National Cancer Institute, it is estimated that 15,000 to 22,000 lung cancer deaths in the United States each year are related to radon. The majority of radon-related cancer deaths occur among smokers, but it is estimated that more than 10% of radon-related cancer deaths occur among nonsmokers.
Testing is the only way to determine radon levels. Radon levels can vary by home and location as well – one home may have little to no presence of radon, and the home next door may have high levels. It all depends on things like:
- Soil composition
- How easily radon can enter a home
- Weather – snow, rain, and barometric pressure – can cause levels to vary by day
If you’re interested in more facts about radon, check out our blog post on Important Facts About Radon.
Homeowners can test for radon themselves with at-home kits, but they tend to be less reliable than a professional test. As a home inspector, you have access to better, more reliable testing equipment that can more accurately detect the radon levels in a home with a radon inspection.
Taking a radon certification course as a home inspector allows you offer a vital additional service to your clients. Being able to catch warning signs of the radioactive gas can help the property and homeowners safe.
Radon inspection training courses are invaluable for any professional in the home inspection industry. The courses can be taken online and allow home inspectors to learn about or brush up on their knowledge of radon. They will make you not only more knowledgeable, but more marketable as a home inspector and give you a leg up on the competition.
By having radon certification, you’ll know how to detect the level of radon in the air, determine where it’s coming from, and education your clients about the risks.
Clients who are going through the homebuying process will likely need a home inspection in order to get a loan, but it’s important that you suggest they also have radon testing done as part of the home inspection, especially if it’s in a region with high levels.
If the results show high levels of radon, they will want to negotiate the sales price to cover radon mitigation before they purchase. Being able to provide this valuable service to your clients, you’ll be able to save them costly testing and mitigation down the line, not to mention their health.
If you’re curious about the radon levels in your area, the EPA has a radon zone map that breaks down zones by county. Radon is measured in picoCuries per liter (pCi/L). The map was developed in 1993 to identify area of the US. with the potential for elevated indoor radon levels. Each county is sorted into one of three zones:
- Zone 1: Counties with predicted average indoor radon screening levels greater than 4pCi/L
- Zone 2: Counties with predicted average indoor radon screening levels from 2 to 4 pCi/L
- Zone 3: Counties with predicted average indoor radon screening levels less than 2 pCi/L
This can also be a helpful tool if you’re considering a career in home inspection, because if the area you’re located has high levels, you may want to consider adding a radon testing certification to your home inspection credentials.
Radon is a serious issue in many homes that can lead to dangerous health issues. Inspecting a home for radon is one of the most beneficial services you can offer your clients.
If you’re ready to get started with a career in home inspection, Inspection Certification Associates is here to help. When you enroll in our online home inspection course, you’ll automatically be given access to our bonus courses, which includes a course on radon inspection.