Has radon gotten to the point of being a scam?

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Old 10-03-18, 06:35 AM
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Has radon gotten to the point of being a scam?

I've been in the same house for 25 years so this hasn't hit me yet but my brother is in the process of selling his home. He's had to endure one inspection so far and the list of BS is quite long. Topping the list is radon amelioration. His realtor claims that virtually nobody passes the test on this mystery hazard & ALL have to cough up the bucks to address the problem or risk losing a buyer.

Just how commonplace is it to have to collect this gas & pump it outdoors (where we ALL can enjoy it)?
 
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Old 10-03-18, 06:59 AM
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I sold a house back in 2005 and the buyer came back after the sale claiming Radon, told them to pound sand.

That sale was due to corporate move so we had a series of inspections on several homes (both buying and selling) over a 2 year period.

I was truly amazed at the variety of "issues" that every inspector would find. Most were just BS little items but then I guess they had to justify their cause!!

I suspect this is just the in thing now days!
 
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Old 10-03-18, 10:17 AM
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I don't know if it was a temporary program or ongoing but several yrs back I took advantage of Tenn's free radon test. The sent you a kit and you set out the boxes as instructed for the time specified and mailed them back. The results came about 6 weeks later. My house passed
 
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Old 10-03-18, 11:11 AM
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Your State Health Department should have the data mapped showing the instances where Radon Gas has been detected, of those, where it has required mitigation.

In general, it usually runs with the presence of underlying granite and outcroppings of it, like in my neighboring State of New Hampshire (aka The Granite State).

You'll see clusters of detection, or patterns . . . . but one house may have very high levels while the neighboring property may have next to nothing. A lot has to do with the makeup of underlying structures.

As a Real Estate Broker, the worst case I ever witnessed involved a stream of water, carrying radon gas that traveled through a basement under slabs of concrete to the other side where it simply exited; but the radon gas was allowed to be released into the basement atmosphere before it left.

This problem was easily solved by enclosing the stream inside a culvert before it entered the basement, and confined until it was back outside.

Sadly though, both the Husband and Wife Owners succumbed to Lung Cancer prior to the detection of the Radon. We'll never know if there was a casual relationship; but the culvert brought the radon gas level down to a negligible.level.

Check with your State or County Health Departments and see if it's likely to be a problem in your area.
 
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Old 10-03-18, 12:31 PM
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I'd start with a self test to see where you stand. Single digits and maybe nothing or something simple. 100 or higher and you would definitely want a quality mitigation system installed.

When radon testing and removal first started having a system could scare off potential buyers. Now (IMO) that has reversed where prospective buyers look for testing and removal systems. Best to get that confusion out of the way. After all, it isn't what you think about Radon, but what new buyers will think.

Bud
 
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Old 10-03-18, 01:04 PM
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I've noticed several neighbors with radon vents in my neighborhood, and a radon test was performed when I purchased the house 10 years ago. My immediate neighbor has a radon vent, and their house is only 25 ft from mine. I couldn't help but wonder if my home had elevated levels, so I purchased a digital radon meter on Amazon and checked several areas in my basement and upper floors to for the hell of it. Everything was well below acceptable limits. I asked the county last time I was there to pull a permit for my garage, and they said my county isn't even considered a radon zone (whatever they call it). So I would say check with your county and/or test for yourself if it is a concern.
 
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Old 10-04-18, 05:16 AM
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Radon Gas is measured in picoCuries per liter of air in the living quarters, and the EPA (until recently at least) recommended mitigation at levels above 4.0 picoCuries per liter.

The State of Vermont suggests that any readings between 2.0 and 4.0 picoCuries also be examined to determine the source, and whether it might be further and easily reduced.

My own readings were 1,2 picoCuries back in 2001, I haven't bothered to closely monitor it beyond that 2001 reading. It's important to know that some level of Radon is present everywhere; so you probably can't find a reading of ZERO picoCuries, Something else will probably kill me; not Radon.

The situation I described above (on October 3rd) had a reading in excess of 17 picoCuries, and the Vermont Health Department at that time said that the house was no longer habitable with Radon levels that elevated.
 
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Old 10-04-18, 06:48 AM
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Considering the many nonsense "issues" this inspector identified, I would be suspect of his radon result. The question is whether a buyer will trust a 2nd opinion that finds the home has acceptable levels?
 
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Old 10-04-18, 07:33 AM
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It is difficult for a low volume home buyer to find an inspection company that will do the job they want, it often takes trial and error to see reports and judge the results. Over the last few years we have narrowed our search down to one company that we feel comfortable with and can send them to a house without following them step for step. Over the years we have encountered inspections so bad some rise to the criminal level, deliberately falsifying reports to hide problems.

But none of that helps you. To say that Radon is a controversial and well discussed topic is an understatement. Here is a link to an energy forum discussion that I confess I have not entirely read. But it does present some interesting information, in particular to me is the idea that our government gets carried away with its guidance.

Let me know if the link does not come up for you, I'm a member so I might be seeing things differently than others.

Bud
 
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Old 10-04-18, 08:53 AM
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Radon exposure being a health risk is itself not a scam -- that is definitely established by science including a causal relationship to lung cancer. The part that is questionable is what should the acceptable or action levels be for a residential house when we know that any exposure raises cancer risk? Various government authorities set the action level between 2-4 with anything greater than 4 requiring attention. The most accurate test is a calibrated meter doing a long term measurement (~48 hours), but you can double check these with relatively cheap radon meters from Amazon. My experience is that they read pretty close.

For example if I set the meter near my sump crock on a rainy day it will read about 6, but up in the living area it will read about 1.25. Should I do anything about it? It's a gray area. Precautionary principle would say that it's easy/cheap to seal up the sump crock with a gasketed lid, so I probably ought to do that. But depending on where the inspector's measurement was taken he might say either I'm clean or I have to remediate. Buyers are always looking for a leg-up, so they will ask for whatever they can get.
 
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Old 10-04-18, 09:29 AM
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Bud,

The link works and...
Oh my. It seems like radon is right up there with climate change & duct cleaning. A hot topic with conflicting science.
 
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Old 10-04-18, 09:42 AM
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I've added that link back to my reading list so I can see more than the first page of comments. I've been an internet friend of Sean's for some time and we do occasionally agree, , but he does have a ton of references so any place he comments usually involves a lot of additional reading.

We just had another inspection this morning so I will get another report to review, wish me luck. I anticipate it will be a quality report.

PS, thanks for reading as often good links just get ignored.

Bud
 
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Old 10-04-18, 11:15 AM
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Having had 2 radon mitigation systems installed, I think in a lot of ways over-hyped, but often an easy solution to fix.

1) I was selling my house in NJ. 48-hour radon test in the basement came back at 3.1. Below the EPA limit, so I said I wouldn't address. Buyers installed their own system for $1,200. I could sort of understand, they had 2 young kids, finished basement, would probably spend a lot of time down there... fine.

2) Purchasing a old house in PA. 48-hour test showed 11. Definitely above the limit. Seller paid for and I had installed a mitigation system for $800. Would that radon effect me, a middle-aged guy in any meaningful way? Probably not, but for $800, why take the chance?

I've heard of some houses in PA reading in the 200-300 level... now that's something I would definitely address!
 
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Old 10-04-18, 02:37 PM
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Every time the Surgeon General puts a warning label on on anything, it spawns another cottage industry.

It's the nature of a society where you're taught that nothing is ever your fault. So whenever something goes wrong, there's inevitably an ambulance-chaser offering to file suit on your behalf against whomever they can convince you is the cause of your troubles. And people/companies often settle out of court because it's cheaper (and less risky) than litigation. Because when you get enough nitwits in the jury box who agree that everything always should be some else's fault, people win suits against McDonalds by claiming they didn't know the coffee was hot.

It's been 41 years since SOCTUS ruled it was unconstitutional to forbid attorneys to advertise. Last year the litigation industry spent a more than a billion dollars (>$1,000,000,000) on advertising. Just two years after that ruling, Chief Justice Berger saw what that ruling was causing and wrote, "We may well be on our way to a society overrun by hordes of lawyers, hungry as locusts, and brigades of judges in numbers never before contemplated."

Since Berger wrote that, the rate that new lawyers are being minted at has averaged 6x the US's population growth. Tell me whether you think the quality and quantity of goods and services available to you the consumer has benefited from that change.

I'm not saying radon isn't dangerous, I'm saying that preying on people's entitlement complex is the litigation industry's stock in trade and fearmongering is the coin of the realm.
 
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Old 10-05-18, 07:17 AM
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Totally agree Fred.
Lead, asbestos and a host of chemicals are in the air we breathe and the water we drink and all have EPA exposure limits. Radon is currently the poster child, there WILL be others.

It's even possible that radon will be found to be beneficial at some future date. Like protein and fats that are constantly changing from good/bad for you.
 
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Old 10-05-18, 08:05 AM
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I do have to point out guys that the science is very clear that radon in any concentration is harmful (along with lead and asbestos) especially to children. You can legitimately argue what risk is acceptable to you personally versus the cost to remediate it or what the government should or shouldn't mandate in private homes, but it is not a legitimate argument to say that exposure is not harmful.
 
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Old 10-05-18, 03:09 PM
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My basement readings would fluctuate between 3 and 8 pCi/L . I had a system put in and its usually around 0.5 now. I thought the cost was reasonable to remove any concern. You will have a 60 watt fan running 24/7 on your electric bill. I let my co worker borrow the meter and he is still debating about mitigation as well. Yet he spent 3500 on a water softener.

You can probably diy if you pay attention to instructions and codes. I think you can use your sump pit. Get the fan level and make sure the pipe exits 18" above the house. The fan should also be outside or in the attic that way if there is damage to the pipe its not blowing radon in the house.

I was hoping that it would help reduce basement humidity. Maybe it did a little but my dehumidifier still runs all spring and summer.
 
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Old 10-08-18, 07:11 AM
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Originally Posted by ibpooks
I do have to point out guys that the science is very clear that radon in any concentration is harmful...
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I also assumed that to be true but the link posted previously leads to a lively discussion that got real interesting when a quoted scientist joined the discussion. He pointed to a thorough study that found low levels of radon may actually be beneficial.
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https://www.sciencedaily.com/release...0325122807.htm
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Article excerpt:
In a statistical analysis led by Richard E. Thompson, associate scientist in the department of biostatistics at the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health, two mathematical techniques were used to compute the odds ratios of developing lung cancer. They each showed a statistically significant lowered lung cancer riska reduction of as much as 60 percent--over portions of the 0-150 Becquerel per cubic meter range (or about 0-4 picoCuries per liter).
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High exposure is certainly bad but other studies (and the EPA) assumed a linear risk line through zero exposure that may not accurately predict health risk.

Science is rarely ever "settled".
 
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Old 10-08-18, 03:05 PM
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Originally Posted by Zorfdt
I've heard of some houses in PA reading in the 200-300 level... now that's something I would definitely address!
Actually, the reason we know about radon. is the Limerick Pennsylvania nuclear power plant.

One of the techs kept getting high readings on his radiation badge. they checked everything at the plant and found nothing.
Somebody had the bright idea to check his dosimeter when he left AND when he showed up, and noticed that he was getting dosed at home.

Well, IIRC, FBI turned the poor guy's house upside down, thinking that he had stolen radioactive material for some nefarious purpose, ran over the entire house and found that the radiation was from radon gas in the basement.

Moral of the story- yes, radon gas can give you a dose high enough to trigger the radiation alarm when you walk into a nuclear power plant. Not common, but not to be ignored.
 
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