641-430-1685 / 641-425-3700 Myron@lupkesinspections.com

Radon Information

Radon Measurement

Jayne and Myron are certified to preform Radon Measurement testing in Iowa.  Homeowners can test their home at any time themselves, but when testing is done as part of a real estate transaction Iowa requires that this testing be performed by technicians that are certified in this area.  Also when a mitigation system is installed independent measurement testing is required to be performed by a certified measurement technician.  Radon measurement is an additional service that we offer in addition to the home inspection and there is an additional fee as this testing requires 48 hours to complete.

 

Jayne Lupkes # S00444  |  Myron Lupkes Certification # S00231

The EPA Radon website: http://www.epa.gov/radon

Iowa Dept Public Health: http://www.idph.state.ia.us/eh/radon.asp

Radon gas, it’s colorless, odorless, and you feel fine, so what’s the problem? It’s a leading cause of lung cancer in nonsmokers, the second leading cause overall, and present at dangerous levels in more than 70 percent of Iowa homes.

This radioactive gas is caused by the natural breakdown of uranium, widely present in Iowa soils. According to the EPA, radon causes up to 21,500 lung cancer deaths each year in the United States.  Anything higher than 4 picoCuries per liter (pCi/L) of air should be reduced, and Iowa’s average radon levels are 6.5 times the nation’s average.

Radon – A problem for Iowa?
Iowa is the leading state of high indoor radon levels
: 71.6 percent of homes are above the EPA action level of 4pCi/L (picoCuries per liter of air). In the United States, the average radon level in homes is 1.3 pCi/L. In Iowa, the average is 8.5 pCi/L. Yet, only a fraction of Iowans test for radon. In a state of nearly 3 million people, approximately 20,000 radon tests are submitted each year. If your home has elevated radon levels, your chance of dying from lung cancer caused by radon is higher than dying in a car accident.

Approximately 1,700 Iowans die of lung cancer each year; 200–400 of these deaths are attributed to radon. And if you’re a smoker exposed to the average amount of radon in Iowa, you’re risk of developing lung cancer is eight times greater than a nonsmoker’s risk. Scientists are more certain about radon risks than most other carcinogens, and there is a substantial amount of human data. At the EPA action level of 4 pCi/L, studies performed in Iowa showed that there was a 50 percent increased risk of lung cancer from prolonged exposure to radon. It’s never too late to test your home for radon and reduce your risk for lung cancer.

Who should test for radon?
Radon is so deadly and so prevalent in Iowa that everyone should test their home. Radon is odorless, tasteless, and invisible. There’s no way to know if your home has high radon levels except to test. Any home can have a radon problem – new homes, old homes, even mobile homes—it depends how much ground up uranium is in the soil. A neighbor’s home could be completely different from yours, due to the soil directly underneath the home, and the pressure the home puts on the ground beneath it. Test for radon when buying or selling a home; if you’re building, build with radon resistant technology.

How does radon gas get into my home?
Radon gas is produced when uranium in the soil breaks down. The air pressure is higher below your foundation, so your home acts as a vacuum and sucks the radon gas from the soil and into your home. It enters wherever it can, leaking in through cracks in the foundation. Radon then decays into radioactive particles that can get trapped in your lungs. These particles release bursts of energy that can damage lung tissue and lead to lung cancer.

How should I test for radon?
There are two testing methods: 1) A professional test needed for real estate transactions and 2) DIY kits for the rest of the population.

For a real estate transaction: Have a certified professional test the home. Certified professionals can be found for each county at the Iowa Department of Health Web site. If the radon levels are above 4 pCi/L, mitigation is needed.

Homeowner’s testing: You can perform a test yourself. The Iowa Air Coalition sells short-term test kits for $6. Call 1-800-206-7818. They’re easy to use and take less than a week. Follow the instructions that come with the test and mail it back to the lab – mailing instructions are also included. Write down the serial number of your tests so there can be no confusion about results.

If test results come back between 4 and 7 pCi/L, do a longer test with a different device. Purchase an alpha tract detector from the Iowa Air Coalition for $20 and test for 91 days or more. Again, the test is user friendly and will be mailed back to the lab for results.

If your initial test came back at 8 pCi/L or above, do another short-term test to confirm the reading. Always do two tests before beginning mitigation.

At what point do I need to take action?
If after two tests radon levels are above 4 pCi/L, you’ll need to hire a contractor to mitigate the problem. You can find a credentialed mitigation professional in your area at the Iowa Department of Health site. The only permanent method of mitigation is active soil depressurization; it is impossible to find and prevent every crack and leak in your home. Active soil depressurization can reduce radon levels by 99%. This technology reverses the pressure and gives the radon a place to go that is not in your home – usually through a pipe that exhausts above the roofline, where it quickly dissipates.

Mitigation usually costs between $1,200 and $1,600, but it depends on the home and how labor intensive installing the system is. Homes should be retested for radon using a short-term test 48 hours after the radon mitigation system has been installed.

How often should I test for radon?
All homes, including those with mitigation systems, should retest for radon every 2-4 years. As the structural elements of your home change, so can your radon levels. It doesn’t take much to change the pressure balance of your home–an addition, a new furnace, or new windows can make a difference.

Iowa’s future
Currently, the radon problem is growing. More homes are being built than are tested for radon. And radon isn’t just a problem in our homes; it is also a problem in our schools and workplaces. Most schools haven’t done recent testing for radon. Iowa does not mandate radon resistant building practices or radon testing during real estate transactions or at any other time.

More information
For more information on radon, the Iowa Department of Public Health will send you a free packet of information. Call the Iowa Radon Hotline at 1-800-383-5992. You can also visit the EPA  or the Iowa Department of Public Health Web site. Inexpensive radon test kits can be ordered from the Iowa Air Coalition by calling 1-800-206-7818.