EPA (United States Environmental Protection Agency) recommends that every home in the US is tested for radon gas. What is radon gas? It’s an odorless, tasteless and invisible gas produced by the decay of naturally occurring uranium in soil and water. It is also the 2nd leading cause of lung cancer in the US. You can read more about it on the EPA’s website. It is a common practice to have a radon test done when you purchase a home in Arlington, VA and it costs about $150 – well worth the investment.
Arlington, VA is considered a Zone 2 area – which means radon should not exceed the levels of 4.0 pCi/L – anything above 4.0pCi/L should require remediation. A remediation system is not that expensive – around $1,000. Here is radon info and Zone map for Virginia. Radon test kit involves 2 canisters placed in a home for 48 hours. It collects radon gas – once 48 hours are up – then radon levels are measured.
About 2 weeks ago my client hired this very highly recommended (not by me) home inspector to do a radon test. The house was just recently built and I was sure there will be no radon issues – new homes are very air-tight and don’t let outside elements in. The results came back at 9.2pCi/L!!! (way above recommended safe limit!!!) This is the highest reading of radon gas I’ve seen in the whole 11.5 years of doing real estate. As we dug deeper into the way this test was performed we found this “highly skilled inspector” placed this radon test on the bench above an open sump pump – that raised a red flag for me. Sump pumps are openings directly into the ground and are usually in the utility rooms – areas that are not meant for regular daily living. I went to the EPA website, other radon testing guidelines and found that radon test should not be placed anywhere near a sump pump.
When I shared this with the “highly recommend inspector” he got very defensive and told me he learned the 4ft from sump pump idea (which he did not even follow) at one of his radon testing courses. Really?! I asked him to re-test in a different area of the house and he of course denied. The seller arranged a re-test performed in the basement bedroom and radon levels came back at 1.9pCi/L – which is typical for the area.
So there is this highly recommend professional placing radon tests above sump pumps. I bet he has the record of high radon test readings in the US (and maybe the world) and he claims to be protecting his clients’ best interests. Please do let me know if you want his name – I will gladly share it with you. You should not use him – at least for the radon testing.
A blog reader and a concerned Arlington citizen contact me in regards to this blog post. She was concerned that my attitude towards radon was not right – that I should have had more concern for high radon levels regardless of where the test was placed. She had personal experience with elevated radon levels in her home and it did affect her health and well being. And I think she is right – I fully agree. If the high radon level is registered – further investigation is needed and radon remediation is necessary – even in utility rooms. Elevated radon is a health risk that is not worth taking.