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Lancaster Inspector’s Corner – January is National Radon Action Month

Lancaster Inspector’s Corner – January is National Radon Action Month

  Welcome Back Readers!  Thanks for stopping in again for another installment of The Inspector’s Corner with Matt Steger from WIN Home Inspection!  This week starts a series for January on Radon, the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States according to the EPA.  Read on after the jump to learn more!


January is National Radon Action Month, so what better topic to discuss this month than radon.  From my experience as a home inspector and PA licensed radon testing professional, radon is an often confused subject among many real estate agents, their clients, and the general public.  I hear many agents tell their clients to not worry about radon or that radon exposure is not a hazard.  Well, radon is indeed a real thing; its number 86 on the periodic table of elements.  Am I bringing back memories of high school chemistry class?  There is no major health or science group that does not recognize radon exposure as a health hazard.  The US Surgeon General, National Council of Radiation Protection, American Lung Association, American Medical Association, World Health Organization, Centers for Disease Control, and many other groups are all in agreement that radon exposure is indeed a significant public health hazard and that radon causes lung cancer.

According to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), radon exposure is the second leading cause of lung cancer, after smoking.  Approximately 20,000 Americans die from radon-related lung cancer annually.  Smoking substantially multiplies the risk of radon-related lung cancer by a factor of approximately 15 times, compared to radon exposure alone for non-smokers.

Radon is a radioactive gas born from the normal breakdown of uranium and other elements in the ground.  Radon has no smell, no taste, and you can’t tell its concentration in your home without performing a radon test.  As a normal part of nature, substances within the Earth rise to the surface and radon gas is one of them.  Some amount of radon is present in the vast majority of homes, and according to the EPA, south central PA has the highest average concentration of radon.  This conclusion is from many years of data collection from licensed radon testers across the country.  See more info from EPA’s website at: http://www.epa.gov/radon/zonemap.html

How does radon get into my home?

The vast majority of radon emanates from soil.  Radon can enter the home in various ways, the most common is through cracks and voids in foundation walls and floors, and to a lesser degree via well water and building materials.  We all know that warm air rises, so radon gas is also affected by indoor ventilation, such as the stack effect.  

The stack effect relates to warm air rising within a structure and the need for replacement air to take its place from beneath.  The stack effect can be driven by the type of heating in the home, direction and force of exterior winds, open vents and flues, and other combustion appliances.  The area beneath a basement or crawl space is most often the source of much of the replacement air that fills the home after warm air rises to the upper levels.  Since basements and crawl spaces are in direct contact with the earth, and radon most commonly emanates from the soil, this is the most common transport mechanism.

Some people are also erroneously under the belief that radon levels can’t be high in a city home or if the home is built on concrete slab.  I have personally measured high radon levels in Lancaster, Harrisburg, and Lebanon cities as well as homes on concrete slabs or above crawl spaces.  While a high radon level is often in a house with a basement, this is not always the case.  The EPA recommends that every home be tested for radon.

Next week, we’ll discuss how radon exposure is measured and the testing criteria mandated by the PA Dept. of Environmental Protection (PA DEP).


Don’t forget that Matt Steger with WIN Home Inspection is THE man for all of your home inspection needs, you can call him anytime at 717-361-9467!

As always, I’d like you to be part of the conversation, so if you like what you read here please comment, forward The Lancaster Connection.com to your friends, subscribe and if you have questions, need real estate advice or want to buy or sell a home, you can call or text me at 717-371-0557, email me at Jason@JasonsHomes.com or contact me at the office at 717-490-8999!

Your Friend in Real Estate,

Jason Burkholder

Weichert, Realtors – Engle & Hambright

Search for Lancaster County Homes for sale at www.JasonsHomes.com by clicking here!

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Jason Burkholder