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I am having fits with a couple inspectors in my area that offer 2-3hour radon screenings.

I know the epa protocol and likely do more radon screenings in Mid-Michigan than anyone.

I enjoy the argument, but can't believe they persist with the notion that a screening can be done in 2-3hours. of course they are free with the "full" inspection.

Has anyone in the United States of America or Canada and Mexico know of this practice??

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I am having fits with a couple inspectors in my area that offer 2-3hour radon screenings.

I know the epa protocol and likely do more radon screenings in Mid-Michigan than anyone.

I enjoy the argument, but can't believe they persist with the notion that a screening can be done in 2-3hours. of course they are free with the "full" inspection.

Has anyone in the United States of America or Canada and Mexico know of this practice??

I'd say that a 2-hour test is about 1/24th as accurate as a 48-hour test, which is about 1/182nd as accurate as a year-long test.

I continue to be amazed that people think that 48 hour tests produce meaningful information.

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I will offer my email boilerplate:

As far as radon testing: If you want a radon test for a pre-purchase short term continuous monitor 48 hour test, I charge an additional $$$ to provide this service.

However, short-term testing may or may not be accurate and personally I do not recommend them for that reason. Long-term testing will give you a better picture of the radon conditions in the home if there are any. Radon testing is easy and something you can do yourself after you move in. The test kits are fairly cheap, about $25. If you do come up with high levels of radon, remediation generally costs about $1200-$1500. The following is what the EPA has to say about it: http://www.epa.gov/radon/pubs/citguide.html

"The quickest way to test is with short-term tests. Short-term tests remain in your home for two days to 90 days, depending on the device. "Charcoal canisters," "alpha track," "electret ion chamber," "continuous monitors," and "charcoal liquid scintillation" detectors are most commonly used for short-term testing. Because radon levels tend to vary from day to day and season to season, a short-term test is less likely than a long-term test to tell you your year-round average radon level. If you need results quickly, however, a short-term test followed by a second short-term test may be used to decide whether to fix your home

Long-term tests remain in your home for more than 90 days. "Alpha track" and "electret" detectors are commonly used for this type of testing. A long-term test will give you a reading that is more likely to tell you your home's year-round average radon level than a short-term test."

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Sure the year long test is more accurate, but in a real estate transaction are they going to get the seller to escrow money to fix it when the year long test comes back high. Not around here. It's either short term testing or the buyer is going to have to eat the cost of fixing it.

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Sure the year long test is more accurate, but in a real estate transaction are they going to get the seller to escrow money to fix it when the year long test comes back high. Not around here. It's either short term testing or the buyer is going to have to eat the cost of fixing it.

It's a bit of a conundrum, but the solution is to use bad data to drive the decision?

It makes more sense to have every owner perform a year long test. Then, when they decided to sell the house, they can disclose the results up front. People whose houses have low levels can use it as a selling point. People with high levels can disclose it or get it fixed before the negotiating begins. People who don't choose to test can disclose that and offer $X off the price of the house upfront to compensate for the lack of info.

There are options that can be based on reality instead of bad data.

Of course, people aren't really interested in the level of radon in their homes or this scenario would already be happening. They're only interested in how much they can stick the other guy for. And bad data will do just fine for that purpose.

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I'm curious Jim, why do you think it's "bad data"?

Would you move your family into a home for a year with these kind of "short term" results while waiting for your long term results?

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As far as your:

It makes more sense to have every owner perform a year long test.

Around here you can get a free radon test from the county health department. Not many people do though, and how do you "compel" them to get it done. Make it another law, like you're not supposed to speed?

Don't see it happening.

Most of the time here in Kentucky, it's not about sticking the seller for money as there's usually no money changing hands other than the seller paying the mitigation guy (not me) to install the mitigation system. Buyer doesn't get money in his pocket.

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When I was still inspecting, I always cited and operated by the EPA guidelines for realestate transactions, and anything less than 48 hour didn't meet that or our state law (which followed EPA).

Also, I would talk the client out of hiring me to do a radon test if they were buying as-is if the extra 1k-1.5k cost to install a system wouldn't make them walk away, then would refer them to our state extension to buy a longterm test and do it for a year. Would also point out the extra $125 they would save by not hiring me to do it could be used toward the system.

If it was a normal realestate deal, I would explain the limitations of the 48 hour test and tell them if it's high in that time it's worst case but would fluctuate, likely higher and lower depending on seasons and weather, and they should go ahead and remediate (using EPA guidelines). Even if it came back low, I would advise they should still do a year long test as mentioned above.

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I'm curious Jim, why do you think it's "bad data"?

Because, in most cases, the sample is too small to be meaningful.

Would you move your family into a home for a year with these kind of "short term" results while waiting for your long term results?

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Well, it would certainly give me pause. When you stumble upon levels in the hundreds of pC/l then I agree that the short term test is valuable. Even if the short term test is wildly inaccurate, it's still succeeded in identifying a problem. Is that kind of radon report typical in your area, or is it an extreme outlier? In my area, radon levels tend to span the ones, tens, twenties, and thirties. When levels are averaged across zip codes, the short-term and long-term results bear almost no relation to each other. At the level of tens of pC/l, the results of short term tests are so far removed from the results of long term tests as to be nearly meaningless.

As far as your:

It makes more sense to have every owner perform a year long test.

Around here you can get a free radon test from the county health department. Not many people do though, and how do you "compel" them to get it done. Make it another law, like you're not supposed to speed?

Don't see it happening.

I have no desire to compel anyone to do anything. I'm simply suggesting that, if the idea is to collect data that will be meaningful to a buyer, the way to do it is to start sooner.

Most of the time here in Kentucky, it's not about sticking the seller for money as there's usually no money changing hands other than the seller paying the mitigation guy (not me) to install the mitigation system. Buyer doesn't get money in his pocket.

It's the same thing. The buyer wishes to get the seller to "give" something to the deal. Wherever radon tests are offered for free, hardly anyone takes advantage of them. People really don't care about radon. They care about negotiating something from the other guy.

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I agree with Katen to the extent it is not good science. However, the transaction is served by the 48hr screening. There has to be an understanding exactly what it really represents 'tho.

80% of our inspections have a radon screening - 48hr electronic.

How does the epa know what data I collect? I have approx. 20,000 screenings that I know have never been reported to the epa. I know the rate by season, geo location, etc but the epa does not.

Steven, what do you consider an instant test? around here it is a two hour anywhere in the house; during an inspection where everything is operated, including fans etc.

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People really don't care about radon. They care about negotiating something from the other guy.

That seems to be borne out by the number of radon mitigation systems I see, i.e., almost none. Plenty of tests pop up >4pcl, but almost none of those houses have mitigation equipment.

I wonder what it all means. The same medical professionals that I've interviewed and researched other stuff with, are generally disengaged from radon stuff. The consensus has been "the government says it's dangerous, OK, fine, it's dangerous. Now, let's talk about stuff we know matters.....", or statements similar to that.

I recall the early days, when a reading >4pcl required me to go back and do several more screenings to verify the original finding. It became obvious why the 48 hour test was adopted; radon screenings could stretch into weeks. Statistically validation makes everything so easy and efficient, the better to serve the transaction.

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After 27 years of renovation work all over WNY I have encountered only 3 mitigation systems. All the maps say we're hot.

If radon were half as dangerous as the EPA would like us to believe, mitigation would have been codified ages ago and systems would be as ubiquitous as smoke and CO alarms.

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I agree with Katen to the extent it is not good science. However, the transaction is served by the 48hr screening. There has to be an understanding exactly what it really represents 'tho.

80% of our inspections have a radon screening - 48hr electronic.

How does the epa know what data I collect? I have approx. 20,000 screenings that I know have never been reported to the epa. I know the rate by season, geo location, etc but the epa does not.

Steven, what do you consider an instant test? around here it is a two hour anywhere in the house; during an inspection where everything is operated, including fans etc.

Les, anything less than a 2 day test is not permitted. Here is what the NJ DEP says:

"Short-Term Tests:

A single short-term test of 2-7 days in length can be used to indicate the radon level in your home. If a single short-term test reveals levels of 4 pCi/L or more, DEP data indicate that subsequent testing would confirm that levels in the home are 4 pCi/L or more in 80 percent of cases. If a second short-term test is conducted in the same location (either simultaneously or at different points in time), and the results of the tests are averaged, the average will provide a slightly more accurate estimate of radon levels.

A variety of short-term test devices are available, including charcoal canisters, electrets, and continuous radon monitors. The DEP Radon Program considers all short-term test devices used by certified companies to be equally reliable.

Long-Term Tests:

A long-term test of 3-12 months will provide your best estimate of average exposure over time, since radon levels fluctuate daily and by season. Because gases are drawn to areas of lower pressure, radon gas will enter the home at a rate that depends on the air pressure inside the home, which is affected by temperature, wind conditions, exhaust systems in the home, etc. Long-term testing should include the winter months, when radon concentrations are often higher than at other times.

Long-term test devices are usually either alpha track detectors or electrets; both tests are considered equally reliable and accurate.

Real Estate Transactions:

A single short-term radon test may be used for real estate transactions. An escrow account, with funds set aside by the seller, can be arranged for the buyer who prefers to test after closing. The funds can then be used to mitigate the home if testing reveals concentrations of 4 pCi/L or more.

If you are a potential homebuyer and are concerned about the possibility of test tampering, discuss anti-tampering methods with the radon measurement contractors you are considering hiring. Also, be sure to check that the contractor will close and pick up the test, as required by regulation. Neither the buyer, the homeowner nor the real estate agent can perform any part of the test, including: closing the test, picking it up, or sending it to a laboratory. If a homeowner is testing their home for themselves, they may do all or part of the test."

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Here in Maine I have seen many active mitigation systems over the years. (well over a hundred).

John Callan

After 27 years of renovation work all over WNY I have encountered only 3 mitigation systems. All the maps say we're hot.

If radon were half as dangerous as the EPA would like us to believe, mitigation would have been codified ages ago and systems would be as ubiquitous as smoke and CO alarms.

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This article has an interesting graph of a home monitored for almost 200 days in 3 different years (1 after mitigation). It would be blind luck if your "sample" represented the actual rate at any given time, or average for that matter. I think radon measuring and mitigation should be done, but we should not promote the line of thinking home buyers have where a home has or does not have radon according to an arbitrary number. Building codes for earthquake resistance are part of life in some areas, if passive measures were built into homes in areas with elevated radon levels, it would not be that big of an issue.
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In Eastern PA many houses have systems. I think about 1 in every 4 to 5 test high. Many in the 4-10 range, up to maybe 100 is not that unusual, and some have tested in the 1000s. Of course, they "discovered" Radon within about 20 miles of where I live.

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I agree with Katen to the extent it is not good science. However, the transaction is served by the 48hr screening. There has to be an understanding exactly what it really represents 'tho.

80% of our inspections have a radon screening - 48hr electronic.

How does the epa know what data I collect? I have approx. 20,000 screenings that I know have never been reported to the epa. I know the rate by season, geo location, etc but the epa does not.

Steven, what do you consider an instant test? around here it is a two hour anywhere in the house; during an inspection where everything is operated, including fans etc.

Les, anything less than a 2 day test is not permitted. Here is what the NJ DEP says:

"Short-Term Tests:

A single short-term test of 2-7 days in length can be used to indicate the radon level in your home. If a single short-term test reveals levels of 4 pCi/L or more, DEP data indicate that subsequent testing would confirm that levels in the home are 4 pCi/L or more in 80 percent of cases. If a second short-term test is conducted in the same location (either simultaneously or at different points in time), and the results of the tests are averaged, the average will provide a slightly more accurate estimate of radon levels.

A variety of short-term test devices are available, including charcoal canisters, electrets, and continuous radon monitors. The DEP Radon Program considers all short-term test devices used by certified companies to be equally reliable.

Long-Term Tests:

A long-term test of 3-12 months will provide your best estimate of average exposure over time, since radon levels fluctuate daily and by season. Because gases are drawn to areas of lower pressure, radon gas will enter the home at a rate that depends on the air pressure inside the home, which is affected by temperature, wind conditions, exhaust systems in the home, etc. Long-term testing should include the winter months, when radon concentrations are often higher than at other times.

Long-term test devices are usually either alpha track detectors or electrets; both tests are considered equally reliable and accurate.

Real Estate Transactions:

A single short-term radon test may be used for real estate transactions. An escrow account, with funds set aside by the seller, can be arranged for the buyer who prefers to test after closing. The funds can then be used to mitigate the home if testing reveals concentrations of 4 pCi/L or more.

If you are a potential homebuyer and are concerned about the possibility of test tampering, discuss anti-tampering methods with the radon measurement contractors you are considering hiring. Also, be sure to check that the contractor will close and pick up the test, as required by regulation. Neither the buyer, the homeowner nor the real estate agent can perform any part of the test, including: closing the test, picking it up, or sending it to a laboratory. If a homeowner is testing their home for themselves, they may do all or part of the test."

Steven, I know what the epa dictates, just was asking is you had experience with the two hour protocols. I have no knowledge of any screening that is less than the epa 48hr real estate protocol.

We see, and inspect, 10-12 systems per week. We do not install the systems, just render our world famous opinion per a set of guidelines.

We find a greater rate in the corn field palaces. Maybe because of construction technique, engineered soils, basements, back fill methods, grading, design, etc. ??

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We are full of taxes, tolls and legislation here is NJ. There are a lot of bad laws and rules but one good rule is that we have to be licensed to perform radon tests and the instant tests are not accepted as a proper form of testing.

When my In-laws sold their house in Lyndhurst about 10 years ago, the inspection company out of Union conducted one of those 2 hour 'tests'.

Of course that inspection company also found carpenter ants and offered to treat for them during the inspection.

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I agree with Katen to the extent it is not good science. However, the transaction is served by the 48hr screening. There has to be an understanding exactly what it really represents 'tho.

80% of our inspections have a radon screening - 48hr electronic.

How does the epa know what data I collect? I have approx. 20,000 screenings that I know have never been reported to the epa. I know the rate by season, geo location, etc but the epa does not.

Steven, what do you consider an instant test? around here it is a two hour anywhere in the house; during an inspection where everything is operated, including fans etc.

Les, anything less than a 2 day test is not permitted. Here is what the NJ DEP says:

"Short-Term Tests:

A single short-term test of 2-7 days in length can be used to indicate the radon level in your home. If a single short-term test reveals levels of 4 pCi/L or more, DEP data indicate that subsequent testing would confirm that levels in the home are 4 pCi/L or more in 80 percent of cases. If a second short-term test is conducted in the same location (either simultaneously or at different points in time), and the results of the tests are averaged, the average will provide a slightly more accurate estimate of radon levels.

A variety of short-term test devices are available, including charcoal canisters, electrets, and continuous radon monitors. The DEP Radon Program considers all short-term test devices used by certified companies to be equally reliable.

Long-Term Tests:

A long-term test of 3-12 months will provide your best estimate of average exposure over time, since radon levels fluctuate daily and by season. Because gases are drawn to areas of lower pressure, radon gas will enter the home at a rate that depends on the air pressure inside the home, which is affected by temperature, wind conditions, exhaust systems in the home, etc. Long-term testing should include the winter months, when radon concentrations are often higher than at other times.

Long-term test devices are usually either alpha track detectors or electrets; both tests are considered equally reliable and accurate.

Real Estate Transactions:

A single short-term radon test may be used for real estate transactions. An escrow account, with funds set aside by the seller, can be arranged for the buyer who prefers to test after closing. The funds can then be used to mitigate the home if testing reveals concentrations of 4 pCi/L or more.

If you are a potential homebuyer and are concerned about the possibility of test tampering, discuss anti-tampering methods with the radon measurement contractors you are considering hiring. Also, be sure to check that the contractor will close and pick up the test, as required by regulation. Neither the buyer, the homeowner nor the real estate agent can perform any part of the test, including: closing the test, picking it up, or sending it to a laboratory. If a homeowner is testing their home for themselves, they may do all or part of the test."

Steven, I know what the epa dictates, just was asking is you had experience with the two hour protocols. I have no knowledge of any screening that is less than the epa 48hr real estate protocol.

We see, and inspect, 10-12 systems per week. We do not install the systems, just render our world famous opinion per a set of guidelines.

We find a greater rate in the corn field palaces. Maybe because of construction technique, engineered soils, basements, back fill methods, grading, design, etc. ??

Aside from a few scammers grabbing "Air Samples" in empty mayonnaise jars when the radon issue first became known many years ago, I have not had any personal experience with instant radon testing.

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