Radon Testing & CNY

Radon is a radioactive gas. It is everywhere, even in outdoor air, but it is found in high levels in many homes in Central New York.

  • You can not see, smell or taste radon gas.
  • Radon is the leading cause of lung cancer among non-smokers in the U.S.
  • Historically 50% of homes in Onondaga county fail radon tests

Radon tests are often performed during Syracuse home inspections. At Brightside we use electronic radon testing equipment (Continuous Radon Monitor, aka CRM) and are a NY state licensed radon laboratory, meaning that we have very fast and accurate results.

us radon map

New York State Radon Map
Onondaga County Radon Map

Radon levels differ from town to town(and street to street). Camillus and Manlius tend to have high radon levels while Clay and Cicero do not. However the only way to know if radon affects a specific home is to perform a radon test at that home.

If you don’t buy in to the radon hype, it is still recommended to test when buying a home. When you sell the home the buyer will likely ask for a test and it is the seller who is responsible to pay for radon to be fixed.

The EPA recommends radon tests be performed every 2 years -even if a mitigation system is present- because the radon levels in any home can change depending on many factors including: time of day, temperature, season, barometric pressure, ventilation, construction changes to the building etc.

Radon testing requires leaving a small, silent measurement device inside a home for approximately 48 hours.

HOW RADON ENTERS A HOME

Radon gas travels thru soil and into homes through tiny cracks and gaps in the foundation, and through openings like sump pits and floor drains. Radon then gets trapped inside the home where it builds up.

RADON MYTHS & FACTS

MYTH: A neighbor’s test result is a good indication of my homes radon level.
FACT: Radon levels can vary greatly from home to home. The only way to know if your home has a radon problem is to test.

MYTH: I’ve lived in my home for so long, it doesn’t make sense to take action now.
FACT: You will reduce your risk of lung cancer when you reduce radon levels, even if you’ve lived with a radon problem for a long time.

MYTH: Everyone should test their water for radon.
FACT: First test the air for radon.  If high radon levels are found AND the home has a private well, test the water.

MYTH: It’s difficult to sell homes where radon problems have been discovered.
FACT: This has not been a problem in CNY.

MYTH: Lowering radon levels is hard to do
FACT: Radon levels can be reduced in most homes to 2 pCi/L or below.

THE HEALTH IMPACT & HISTORY OF RADON

radon exposure

  • 1950’s  – Radon and lung cancer are linked for the first time through radon exposed miners
  • 1979  – World Health Organization (WHO) sounds the alarm on residential radon exposure
  • 1988 – Radon is classified as a Class A carcinogen by the medical community
  • 2003 – EPA revises its radon assessment risk to the current standards
  • 2005 – The U.S. Surgeon General issues a national health advisory about the dangers of residential radon exposure, bringing significant attention to the issue

Radon leads to approximately 21,000 deaths a year. Lung cancer from radon exposure is the leading cause of lung cancer in non-smokers.

The American Cancer Society recommends that if you have been exposed to high levels of radon over long periods of time, ask your doctor about whether you should get regular health checkups and tests to look for possible signs of lung cancer.

Radon exposure does not guarantee lung cancer. It increases risk of lung cancer. In the same way that a person can smoke cigarettes for their entire life and never develop lung cancer. But individuals that smoke are at a higher risk to develop lung cancer. Smokers who are exposed to high radon are at very high risk.

RADON MITIGATION – How to Reduce Radon in Your Home

The results of a radon test fall into one of three groups. The following are the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommendations:

Radon level 0-1.9 pCi/L: No level of radon is safe, but reducing levels of radon below 2 pCi/L is difficult.

Radon Level 2.0-3.9 pCi/L: Consider fixing the radon level.

Radon Level 4.0+ pCi/L: A qualified radon mitigation contractor should take corrective action to reduce the homes indoor radon levels.

In a real estate transaction 4.0 pCi/L and higher is the level at which action is taken by a seller, however a radon result of 3.8 pCi/L, for example, deserves serious consideration for mitigation after purchasing the home.

Although it’s not the U.S. standard, the World Health Organization has created an action level for mitigation at 2.7 pCi/L and higher.

radon mitigation system

White PVC Pipe Radon Mitigation System

The most common method of radon removal involves:

  • Drilling a hole through the concrete slab in the basement and digging out dirt at the hole
  • Inserting a PVC pipe into the hole that extends outside and above the roof
  • Connecting a high powered exhaust fan to the PVC pipe
  • Using the fan to draw air and radon out and eject it before it can enter the home. An added benefit of this system is it reduces humidity levels in the home.

This method can often reduce radon below 1.0 pCi/L. The cost of radon mitigation averages around $1500 but will depend on how difficult it is to reduce the radon levels.

Learn More About Radon

At Brightside Home Inspections we perform radon testing only, we do not perform radon mitigation. You can see pricing here. Here is a list of local state certified radon mitigation contractors.