Let me begin with a little history of Radon and Real Estate. This will be my 36th year selling Real Estate in the greater Denver Metro area. Prior to the early 1980’s, we never even heard of Radon. In Pennsylvania there was an individual working at a nuclear power plant. As he entered the plant one day in 1984, he set off a test monitoring device that checks workers for any radiation as they enter and leave the facility. Believing that there may be a radioactive leak in the plant, they shut their operation down and performed a complete check of the facility. Not finding any issues, they went to the workers home and found a radon level reading of around 2,000 pCi/L which is pronounced “picocuries”. The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) recommends a level of 4 picocuries. We average in Denver around 8-12 picocuries if a reading comes in high.
Radon is a colorless/odorless gas which is produced from the natural (radioactive) breaking down of uranium in soil, rock and water emitting into outside air. When you build a home on top of a piece of ground, you are locking in the radon that is naturally emitting out of the ground and is now flowing into the air you breathe in your home.
You can imagine that when we as Real Estate Brokers first heard of this in the early 80’s we were fairly skeptical. It is estimated however that Radon is now responsible for close to 21,000 deaths per year according to the EPA.
BUT, DON’T PANIC! Don’t be scared away from the home you loved enough to make an offer to purchase on because of Radon. If you do get a radon reading over 4 picocuries, it is relatively easy and not that expensive to mitigate this issue. The average cost of mitigation is between $800.00 and $1,000.00 and the contractor should re-test showing a lower than .04 pCi/L and guarantee their work in writing. The cost of mitigation could be more expensive if you need to install a heavy liner over a dirt floor in a crawl space.
What I hate as a Broker is when a reading comes in anywhere between 4.1 & 6pCi/L, just over the EPA recommended acceptable level. There is always a +/- factor with radon and depending on what the weather is like when the test is done, can affect that reading. For instance, if it is raining outside during a radon test the results will normally come in a little higher than if it were dry.
My point is while none of like Radon, it is found throughout the United States. It is easily dealt with, easily mitigated and not the monster in the closet that some may think it is. That being said, I will always recommend that my Buyers spend the $125-$140.00 to test for Radon so they go in with their eyes open and if there is an issue, can rectify it.
Gary Lohrman GRI, CRS
Keller Williams DTC
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