High Radon Question

(Amy Irvin) #1

I'm not an inspector, but I wanted to post this on an official forum because I want to verify I'm not alone and to hopefully ease my concerns a bit. I grew up in a house that I discovered has radon levels in the bedrooms of about 27.9 pCi/L and 24.9 pCi/L (basement ~40 pCi/L). My parents have lived in the house for ~43 years and are fine and I have no ill-effects so far; I've been out of the house ~10 years (lived there ~20 years). Luckily, I'm not and never have been a smoker. I have received numerous reassurances that I am not necessarily doomed to get lung cancer, but the prospect still terrifies me. I did see a past post about the highest levels people have found, and some are quite a bit higher than mine....have people commonly found levels as high as what I grew up with? Do you think my situation is quite common? Has anyone else grown up in a house with comparable levels? It appears as though a lot of people still haven't tested so they could easily be living with high levels as well. I'm quite anxious, so only serious replies, please...(I'm in Pennsylvania, by the way, so I know I'm in a "hot zone" for radon)

(David Hays, CMI) #2

You will get most of your answers at this EPA site.

(Amy Irvin) #3

Thanks for the link! However, I have already been all over the EPA site...I was just looking for some first-hand experience of folks in the field who encounter elevated radon all the time...I assume people may have an idea of high levels they have encountered and how long people have been living in the house, etc. My parents aren't particularly worried because they have been there so long with no ill-effects and the radon mitigation industry wasn't in effect when they were growing up in the area....but I'm a scientist myself and the stats just look scary.

(Amy Irvin) #4

I'm not sure if my first response went through, so I'm re-sending...sorry for repeating if it does show up.

I thank you for the link! I have already been there, though. I was hoping to get some response from folks in the business who would have seen high levels regularly, probably talked to folks, etc. I mentioned my parents have been there 43 years; they are not concerned since they are fine and grew up in a time before radon mitigation was in effect or problems were really known. I am a scientist myself, so the stats are quite scary. Thanks.

(Gary Farnsworth, CMI) #5

If you are concerned, or have such high radon results, I would re-test with another company who is experienced in radon testing. How was the test performed? Where? Basement? How long did the test last? What devices where used to test? Snow on the ground?

You may feel no ill effects until it is too late.

You can also check out www.radon.com for more info or www.kansasradonprogram.org

(Andrew A. Griffin, CMI) #6

Amy,

Radon creates problems when the radon atom decays in your lungs when it reaches its half-life. They estimate that 15,000-22,000 people die each year from radon created lung cancer (http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/Risk/radon).

We are home inspectors, not doctors or scientists, so all I know is that radon over 4pc/l is "bad", and anything under is "good". There is no way for me to tell if radon is going to give you cancer or not. Some more reading and radon studies:
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC546066/
http://www.cheec.uiowa.edu/misc/radon.html

For even more fun reading, check out the american lung association and what they have to say about air polution and health risks. http://www.stateoftheair.org/2013/health-risks/health-risks-particle.html . I hope that this can demonstrate there is so much at play other than Radon when your health and cancer is concerned.

(Derek Grace, 16000090161) #7

Radon levels under 4 pci/L are not good either, no level of radon is good. 4 is just a number set by The EPA as when mitigation is recommended. I would personally take action to reduce radon levels (and there are many ways) even if the level is under 4.

(Jeremy Rusher, 450.010735) #8

In Illinois a 48 hour test is administered. If the test results are between 4.0 pCi/L and 8.0 pCi/L then follow up with another short term (2-30 days) test or a long term test (91-365 days). If the test results are 8.0 PCI/L or greater then follow up with another short term test. If the follow up tests confirm initial results then mitigation is recommended. And yes, under 4.0 pCi/L doesn't necessarily mean the air is is few of radon gas. 4.0 It is just an action level. Even if results come back at 3.9 pCi/L doesn't mean the homeowner shouldn't take steps to reduce that number. Those steps can be sealing cracks in basement floors and walls, covering and sealing sump pits, installing a vapor barrier to the floor of the crawlspace, or installing a passive system. A passive system is essentially a mitigation system without the fan but the system gives the radon gas a least path of resistance to escape, but an active system is obviously better. With levels that are excessively high, installing an active system will be the way to go.

(Amy Irvin) #9

Do you folks often see levels like this? (I guess this would only apply to high radon affected states, as many places don't have high radon like we do I'm PA). They are getting it mitigated.

(Amy Irvin) #10

And as a response to the above-the tests were upstairs in bedrooms, snow was probably on ground ( they were just done), and they were 96 hr charcoal tests (prolab).

(Amy Irvin) #11

Ok, haven't heard any responses which makes me think no one ever sees levels that high. Come on it can't be that uncommon, can it? I'm really losing sleep over this thinking I'm doomed to die of lung cancer. :(

(Michael Larson, WI Lic. # 1672-106) #12

There are much higher than that in the county I live in.

No one here can offer you an opinion how likely you are to get cancer due to Radon exposure.

Talk you a local oncologist or radiation therapist.

(Jeffrey R. Jonas) #13

Amy... keep in mind that what results you receive today, may not have always been. Never assume that the readings have always been high. There are many influences that could cause change over the years, such as: neighborhood development, excavation of your neighbors basement, fracking, mining, etc. Who knows... the readings in your home 10 years ago may have only been 1.2 pCi/L.

Needlessly worrying about what 'could be' only detracts from your quality of life. If you really are concerned, get tested annually and deal with it when you exhibit signs of Cancer. I recently lost my BFF due to lung cancer (not Radon inflicted). I understand your concern, but you really have no control over your destiny. Enjoy what you have, while you have it.

(Kevin M. Leonard, CMI) #14

[quote="jjonas, post:13, topic:84219"]

Amy... keep in mind that what results you receive today, may not have always been. Never assume that the readings have always been high. There are many influences that could cause change over the years, such as: neighborhood development, excavation of your neighbors basement, fracking, mining, etc. Who knows... the readings in your home 10 years ago may have only been 1.2 pCi/L.

Needlessly worrying about what 'could be' only detracts from your quality of life. If you really are concerned, get tested annually and deal with it when you exhibit signs of Cancer. I recently lost my BFF due to lung cancer (not Radon inflicted). I understand your concern, but you really have no control over your destiny. Enjoy what you have, while you have it.
[/QUOTE]

Exactly, and I might also add changes to the house, new windows, mechanical bathroom vents or kitchen vents installed, attic ventilation, different furnace etc etc. etc. can and do have an effect on Radon levels in the home.

IMO not the only but the most important factor, when related to getting cancer, is in the genes. If both your parents had never smoked and yet died of lung cancer, you rightfully would have something to worry about, but they are alive & hopefully well, so don't worry, be happy, and sleep well Amy.. :D

(Kevin M. Leonard, CMI) #15

Also, do a long term test, 91 days or longer. Alpha

http://www.amazon.com/Accustar-Long-Term-Alpha-Track-Radon/dp/B0029NNVGG

You won't have to worry about "anomalies" such as snow or certain protocols such as closed house conditions.

(Rick K. Kie, NYS UID#16000019351) #16

Reading PA has a real high Radon level, you may want to research that area. Here in NY 100 PC/L is the highest I have seen.
Sorry we don't do research on the occupants.

(Joseph Hagarty, CMI) #17

Amy,
Radon throughout PA tends to be elevated.
I have been testing for over 10 years and a 27 pCi/liter is not unusual.
I have had readings as high as 550 pCi/liter over the years with parts of Chester Country averaging over 250 pCi/liter.

(Erika Joseph) #18

Hi Amy. I have just had a very similar experience as yours…finding out that the house I’ve lived in for many years (8 1/2 in my case) has a current radon level of 40 pCi in the lower levels of the house. It’s a tri-level plus basement and the 40 pCi was in the basement and first (garden level) level family room. Haven’t tested the upper levels. I’ve been doing TONS of research…which is how I came across your post. We’ll be having a mitigation system installed shortly but in any case, I am freaking out and am quite worried about what damage has potentially been done to my family’s health. Would LOVE to be able to connect with you if you happen to see this post. Please let me know if you do and then we can trade contact info.

(Nick Gromicko, CMI) #19

In this slide show there is a home with 7,000 pCi/L.

http://certifiedmasterinspector.org/slideshow/

(Amy Irvin) #20

Hi there Erika, just saw your message now! I don’t often check. If you are still available and interested, we can trade contact info.

Amy