I spoke with Paul Tellier with Waukesha County Environmental Health Services and learned a lot about Radon, its effects and how it pertains to the reader’s questions. I was quite shocked and interested in all he had to say as admittedly I knew nothing about Radon prior to this project.
First of all, Radon is a gas that comes from our soil. It is a hazard of which everyone should be aware. Exposure to high levels of Radon is the 2nd leading cause of lung cancer following smoking.
There are several factors that come into play when considering the reasoning behind a home having high levels of Radon. Since this gas comes up from the ground, whenever air escapes from the home (from say a fireplace, bathroom exhaust, dryer vent…) it creates sort of a vacuum that in a way sucks the Radon gases from the ground and into the home.
If your home is at a very high radon level there are things you can do about it. One is installing a sub-slab depressurization unit. That can cost in the range of $1000-2000 typically.
Wisconsin is not a state that requires Radon testing. However, there are states (Illinois, Iowa, New Jersey and others) that do and even though Wisconsin does have reportedly high numbers – it has yet to be a governmental concern.
Tellier specifically says that everyone should have their house tested whether it is a new home you are buying or the one you live in now. You can purchase Radon Test Kits for about $10 (either from the links/numbers below or local hardware stores) and those are considered short term kits. If you register above a 4 on one of those tests, then it is recommended that you receive an Alpha Track Kit which tests your home for 1 year.
There are several ways to receive all the information you need regarding Radon.
– Call 1-800-Low-Radon – get plenty of information and can even order testing kits for your home.
– Visit the website – www.lowradon.org – this site gives you every piece of info you can imagine from testing options to contractors to zip codes statistics
– Send a blank email to firstname.lastname@example.org . You will then receive an auto-reply email with all of the links you will need to find out everything you need to know.
To answer the reader’s questions:
Problem in Western Racine? That is not a yes or no question. You can visit the above mentioned website to check on the numbers for individual zip codes. But the numbers are relative and depend on each home specifically. For example; last year in the area code 53405 – 240 homes were tested. 90 of those homes registered higher than a 4 reading (the recommended action level is between 4 and 8). 25 of those homes were higher than 10. And one home was as high as 101.
Is that (a radon test) part of a home inspection? No. You have to specifically ask for it and it will cost more. Some home inspectors do it or you can get a separate contractor for that.
What does it cost? To have it done professionally, it could range from $100-300 from what I have found.
Should it be done before you purchase a home? Yes. Always.