Radon Gas

What is Radon?
Radon gas is an odorless, tasteless, radioactive gas that occurs naturally under the soil. Radon comes from the breakdown of uranium that is found in the soil. Radon gas is measured in picocuries per liter (pCil/L). The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) gives an action level of 4.0 pCi/L and higher as the level for being too high in homes. Radon gas can be found all over the United States, Southern and Western Minnesota is listed by the EPA as a Zone 1 meaning the levels are predicted to be 4.0 pCi/L and higher. Click to open map.

What is the harm of Radon?
High levels of radon gas in a home have been found to cause lung cancer. According to the EPA, an estimated 21,000 lung cancer deaths per year are caused by radon gas. Radon gas is the leading cause of lung cancer in non-smokers. Smoking plus a level of 4.0 pCi/L radon gas increases the chance of lung cancer nine times. There are many factors to consider about radon’s effects on health most prominent are the level of radon, length of exposure and if a person is a smoker. More health information can be found on the EPA’s website about Radon. www.epa.gov/radon

Should I Test my Home?
Every home should be tested for Radon gas. The levels of radon will vary from home to home; one home may measure 2.1 pCi/L while the house next door may measure 9.7 pCi/L; therefore every home should be tested to find the amount of radon gas in it. There are many factors that contribute to the final level inside a home; most prominent factors are the amount of radon under the soil and the amount of negative pressure that the house is under (drawing gas from the soil into the house).

How much does a radon test cost?
John Medina of South Metro Home Inspections (952-465-5174) in New Prague is NRPP (Nation Radon Proficiency Program) certified to test homes for Radon. NRPP# 108233 RT. A 48-hour test using a Sun Nuclear continuous radon monitor will give you an accurate reading of your home. The cost is $150 without a home inspection or $125 if radon testing is performed along with a home inspection.

What to do If I Have High Levels?
If your home has a level of Radon 4.0 pCi/L or higher (which is the EPA’s action level) the radon levels need to be reduced. The most effective method is through the installation of a Radon mitigation system. Radon mitigation systems prohibit radon from entering buildings. Radon mitigation systems consist of sealing the cracks in the basement concrete slab, closing the sump pit, and attaching a pipe to that closed sump pit. The pipe will have a fan a mounted either in the attic or outside. By drawing air from under the slab, it depressurizes the slab not allowing the flow of Radon gas. Most systems can be installed for around $1,500 similar to the dollar amount of other common home repairs.

Mold and Fungal Spores

Mold and Indoor Air Quality
An indoor air quality test consist of an outside air control sample and an inside air sample to compare levels of allergens, bacteria and other contaminants. The air-o-cell samples are collected and sent to EMSL Analytical labs where they are analyzed and printed in a report. The cost for an indoor air quality test is $100.

Mold and Fungal Spore Testing
Mold can grow where moisture is present and it meets an organic material like wood. There are many different types of mold, some more harmful than others. A swab of the mold is taken and sent to EMSL Analytical labs where identification of the types of mold and fungal spores are printed in a report. The cost of mold and fungal spore samples is $50 per swab sample. However if I can find the source of the moisture I will recommend against a mold test and instruct you on corrections.


Asbestos in Insulation
Vermiculite is insulation that the EPA states should be treated as if it contains asbestos. Do not disturb this insulation or store boxes in attic where vermiculite is present. If construction is planned in an area that contains vermiculite, have it removed by a professional asbestos removal company. Go to EPA.gov to get further education on vermiculite. www.epa.gov/asbestos

Where asbestos may also be found:

As with vermiculite do not disturb asbestos in these materials.