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RADON CONCENTRATION 6.2pCi/l


vik3001
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I am in the process of buying a townhome and the radon level is > 4. it is 6.2. should i buy the home if the seller puts a mitigation system? or should i just walk away from the deal since mitigation systems dont work much.

anybody else in this situation ever. pls help, need advice

more data: the seller said that he lived in the house and did a test many yrs ago close to 1.0. also he has rented it since then, but the tenants moved out in feb and its been closed for 4 months, the windows, doors etc. only once a month seller goes to get his mail.

is the closed condition also contributed to a 6.2 reading?

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Originally posted by vik3001

I am in the process of buying a townhome and the radon level is > 4. it is 6.2. should i buy the home if the seller puts a mitigation system? or should i just walk away from the deal since mitigation systems dont work much.

anybody else in this situation ever. pls help, need advice

more data: the seller said that he lived in the house and did a test many yrs ago close to 1.0. also he has rented it since then, but the tenants moved out in feb and its been closed for 4 months, the windows, doors etc. only once a month seller goes to get his mail.

is the closed condition also contributed to a 6.2 reading?

It's 2.2 pc above a random threshold from a highly unreliable test.

Buy the townhome. Install the mitigation system if it makes you happy. Go on with life and worry about real problems.

-Jim Katen, Oregon

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It takes 12 hours for a home to reach saturation equilibrium for Radon. It's urban legend that the home will have higher readings because it's been closed up for a long period of time. As long as the windows are closed 12 hours prior to running the test, and the remaining time of the test, you'll have accurate readings.

Radon mitigation systems, that are properly installed, do a great job at lowering the levels. The before and after test results are proof of that.

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There could be several things that contribute to the different readings. If the first was a home kit and the second professional, that says a lot. The first could have been in the main floor and the 2nd in the basement, whole house fan with no make up ventillation will allow for a negative pressure inside the home and higher readings. Testing next to the sump pit or in a draft will give higher readings.

Between 4 and 10 calls for a retest, then to fix the home if they are consistent. While 6 is above the action limit, I have seen in the 30's and heard of homes in the 70's. Mitigation systems around here cost $750-$1000 so it is usually not a deal breaker.

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Originally posted by jon_ran

Between 4 and 10 calls for a retest, then to fix the home if they are consistent.

That's an option that a homeowner may wish to consider, but it's not done for a test conducted as part of a real estate transaction. If a second test is done, the average of both tests would be used.

The only time two tests would be done during a transaction is when using passive devices, two tests are done simultaneously, placed side by side, or two tests are done consecutively. In both cases, the two tests would be averaged, regardless of the levels.

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Hi Vik3001:

1) Jim Katen is dead on target.

2) Terry’s close

3) Kurt’s got a great point.

In reality, the reading of 6.2 pCi/l tells you that the actual radon concentration (in pCi/l equivalents) is probably somewhere above 0.1 pCi/l and is probably somewhere below 15 pCi/l (but it may not be). The value to the right of the decimal is completely meaningless, and there is not even a statistically significant difference between a reading of, say, 2.0 pCi/l and 10 pCi/l.

From an health risk perspective, there is ABSOLUTELY no difference in risk between say, 0.05 pCi/l and 40 pCi/l.

Katen’s right since he correctly points out that the test is HIGHLY unreliable.

Terry’s kinda close, but in truth, the property will never reach equilibrium since the concentration is a dynamic balance between 1) source, 2) sinks, and 3) pathways, and equilibrium is actually never seen in most cases, which is why the US EPA arbitrarily used a made up equilibrium ratio that has never been demonstrated to be correct.

Kurt’s point is well taken since his comment addresses both accuracy and precision. The 6 month alpha tracks have an uncertainty of plus or minus about 50% when estimating the annual concentration (compared to plus or minus 90% for a 3 or 4 day test), and the 12 month alpha tracks have a plus or minus about 23% uncertainty for estimating the annual concentration.

In any event, even if none of the above were true, look at it this way… Even if the very very very worst case risk scenarios regarding radon were true (which they are not), a concentration of 6.2 pCi/l would carry an increased risk of death roughly equal to being 2 pounds over weight! (And you would have to be exposed to that radon for 70 years). Hardly something to loose sleep over.

The actual HARD scientific epidemiological studies suggest that at a concentration of 6.2 pCi/l, your risk of lung cancer is actually LESS than an house with no radon.

But then, I believe in God - so what would I know, eh?

Cheers!

Caoimhín P. Connell

Forensic Industrial Hygienist

www.forensic-applications.com

(The opinions expressed here are exclusively my personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect my professional opinion, opinion of my employer, agency, peers, or professional affiliates. The above post is for information only and does not reflect professional advice and is not intended to supercede the professional advice of others.)

AMDG

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Originally posted by Caoimhín P. Connell

The actual HARD scientific epidemiological studies suggest that at a concentration of 6.2 pCi/l, your risk of lung cancer is actually LESS than an house with no radon.

Are you suggesting that the amount of Radon found in a home and the risk of lung cancer are inversely proportionate?

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Originally posted by Terence McCann

Are you suggesting that the amount of Radon found in a home and the risk of lung cancer are inversely proportionate?

Hi Terry –

Whereas with some compounds, there is a simple linear dose response curve, except that the left hand side of the risk curve is usually considered to be asymptotic and there is a point known as a NOEL (no observable adverse effect level) or LOEL (lowest observable adverse effect level). Usually the extreme right side of the curve, too, peters off; with a certain range in between the two extremes that exhibits some reasonable degree of linearity. However, with some materials, this dose-risk relation ship is GROSSLY in appropriate, and risk estimates based on the model are WIDLY inaccurate.

The dose risk relationship is not the simple linear-no-threshold-dose-response the EPA insists on using, and not only is there no science to support their use of the model, buried deep within their risk estimates they come right out and admit that the use of the LNTDR curve is not appropriate (sometimes referred to as the “one-hit theory of carcinogenicity.â€

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  • 2 weeks later...

I have a simple question. We were looking at a house to purchase in the Indianapolis area and the lower basement level tested 4.5 and 4.6 (two of those canister tests). It's a walk out basement with an unfinished furnace room in one corner. It has a sump pump pit and also a sewer/drainage pit which I understand is a pump lift station for the lower bathroom. Would installing a simple bathroom exhaust fan in the furnace room probably bring the radon levels down to 2.0 or under?

Robert

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An exhaust fan might, in some conditions, increase the radon in the house by creating negative pressure that draws radon into the structure.

Reread Jim Katen's response above; you're barely above a random level determined by a very unreliable test. Worry about something else.

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Radon levels will rise and fall naturally over time. Unless you do a longer term test then the data can be mis-leading. It could retest a few months later at 1.0. I would always be skepticle of results provided by any company who installs or is associated with any company who installs mitigation systems.

"Oh my sir, you have a problem, but we can help you"

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Robert,

As I was typing in my response, I saw Kurt's reply. Since my post was then a simple repeat of his wisdom, I thought I'd add:

Yes, worry about something else, but also don't worry about a possible rise in Rn levels if it means the elimination of poop smell - that's a real hazard!

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Originally posted by Robert

I have a simple question. We were looking at a house to purchase in the Indianapolis area and the lower basement level tested 4.5 and 4.6 (two of those canister tests). It's a walk out basement with an unfinished furnace room in one corner. It has a sump pump pit and also a sewer/drainage pit which I understand is a pump lift station for the lower bathroom. Would installing a simple bathroom exhaust fan in the furnace room probably bring the radon levels down to 2.0 or under?

Robert

Well anything over 4.0 is above the recommended EPA level. 4.5 & 4.6 are both over that level. Yes, it is low. But .....

Keep in mind that if you go to sell the home in the future and a new buyer has the same test done as you did, who will pay for a mitigation system if they want one after their results show an elevated reading?

Tell the owners you want a mitigation system installed. A bathroom vent fan is not an approved mitigation system. As others have said it could cause additional problems.

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If was selling a house, and someone balked @ a 4.4 pcl and wanted a mitigation system, I'd find another buyer.

That's cheapshot crap, and I don't think HI's should be recommending mildly sleazy negotiating ploys to their customers.

If there's a real defect, fine, but a 4.4 pcl???

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Originally posted by kurt

If was selling a house, and someone balked @ a 4.4 pcl and wanted a mitigation system, I'd find another buyer.

That's cheapshot crap, and I don't think HI's should be recommending mildly sleazy negotiating ploys to their customers.

If there's a real defect, fine, but a 4.4 pcl???

I know, but all we do is convey the information at hand to our client. It is not my job to tell my client to ignore the EPA standard. All I'm doing is providing them with the best information that is available.

I guess you could look at it like a "double tap" on a breaker. Most likely it will not cause any problems, but it is not permitted by the manufacturer.

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Anecdote: Quite a while back, TN authorities identified a house on my street as being the "hottest" house in TN, radon-wise. The numbers were in the high 60s - low 70s.

Years later, prospective buyers hired me to inspect the house. The first thing I noticed was that the only radon "mitigation" comprised a few crawl-space-style perimeter vents in the stone foundation walls.

I figured the house would still be glowing. We set up a continuous monitor, picked it up two days later, and the number was somewhere around 2.

That pretty much convinced me that radon measurement is all black magic and voodoo. Of course, for ass-covering purposes, we continued to report that houses measured at 4pcl or above needed mitigation.

WJ

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Thanks for that input. The bathroom exhaust fan being installed in the furnace room definitely doesn't sound like a good idea....cure one problem and create another is not a good solution.

Does anyone know whether or not Home Inspectors are required to report the results of 'high' radon levels they find in homes to the County or State Board of Health in Indiana? I sure would hate to buy a home that is marked by a published high radon test which is not even reliable.

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Originally posted by Scottpat

Originally posted by kurt

If was selling a house, and someone balked @ a 4.4 pcl and wanted a mitigation system, I'd find another buyer.

That's cheapshot crap, and I don't think HI's should be recommending mildly sleazy negotiating ploys to their customers.

If there's a real defect, fine, but a 4.4 pcl???

I know, but all we do is convey the information at hand to our client. It is not my job to tell my client to ignore the EPA standard. All I'm doing is providing them with the best information that is available.

I guess you could look at it like a "double tap" on a breaker. Most likely it will not cause any problems, but it is not permitted by the manufacturer.

Kurt

the HI was not taking a cheap shot or using a ploy. He was asked to do a radon test and did. Then he sent those charcoal activated canisters to the lab and that's what the lab reported.

a lot of ladies and even men don't understand radon. Many believe it's very dangerous should it get up to that EPA 'take action' level of 4.0 or higher. If the government says it can kill you, aren't you to believe the government?

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Originally posted by Robert

. . . Kurt

the HI was not taking a cheap shot or using a ploy. He was asked to do a radon test and did. Then he sent those charcoal activated canisters to the lab and that's what the lab reported.

Then, if you really want to know if there's an issue, repeat the test.

a lot of ladies and even men don't understand radon.

Ladies and even men? Do you suppose that ladies have a harder time understanding radon? What a remarkably condescending statement.

Many believe it's very dangerous should it get up to that EPA 'take action' level of 4.0 or higher. If the government says it can kill you, aren't you to believe the government?

That's a rhetorical question, right? 'cause I know that you, being a man and all, aren't stupid enough to have asked it seriously.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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