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Common Radon Myths

March 2, 2015 | Posted by Meg Gove, Radon and Seismic Manager

Radon_blue_small.jpgThis week we take on common myths about radon. If you live in the Portland area, including Vancouver, Washington, it makes sense to know your facts when it comes to radon.

MYTH: Radon isn’t all that dangerous.

Radon causes an estimated 21,000 deaths a year in the United States, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). It’s the leading cause of lung cancer among non-smokers.

MYTH: My house is new, so I don’t need to test for radon.

Radon Resistant New Construction laws have been in effect since 2011 in most counties surrounding Portland, but new homes can still have high radon levels. New code requires that radon venting be installed, but the vent system does not have to include a fan. Homes still need to be tested to determine if a fan should be added to the system.

Because most homebuilders are not radon experts, a certified radon mitigation technician should also perform an inspection of the mitigation system to ensure that it was installed properly.

MYTH: My house is over a crawlspace, so I don’t need to test for radon.

Plenty of homes with crawlspaces have elevated radon levels, whether or not the crawlspace is vented.

MYTH: My house is built on a slab, so I don’t need to test for radon.

All types of houses can have high radon levels in the Portland area, with the rare exception of homes built on stilts. Homes with basements, crawlspaces, or slab-on-grade foundations should all be tested.

MYTH: I don’t need to test for radon because I live in a condo.

The EPA recommends testing condo units up to the third floor levels. Radon can be emitted from concrete, and studies have shown that even condos or apartments on upper floors can have high radon levels.

MYTH: I’ve already tested for radon so I don’t need to test again.

The EPA recommends testing your home at least every two years or after any major renovations, because radon levels can change over time. Radon levels can also fluctuate seasonally. Performing a long-term test is the best way to determine your home’s year-round average radon levels.

MYTH: My neighbor’s house tested low for radon, so mine should be fine too.

Every home is built over a unique plot of soil, and every home breathes differently. Homes built on adjacent lots can have very different radon levels.

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