Thursday, January 17, 2008

Radon Gas

Over about the last decade, the issue of radon gas infiltration has become a concern that is becoming increasingly addressed in real estate transactions. The Environmental Protection Agency recently published the "Home Buyer's and Seller's Guide to Radon" (PDF download y En Espñaol) and "Consumer's Guide to Radon Reduction" (PDF download), and the National Association of REALTORS® brought the issue to its membership's attention in a recent newsletter.

Real estate professionals should now be on notice of the need to advise buyers to order home inspections and seek out home inspectors who check for Radon gas, and not just for HUD transactions. As yet, there is no requirement that sellers test for the presence of radon, but they also should be prepared for the possibility that they will find it necessary to pay the cost of mitigating the problem.

Radon gas is present in every structure at some level, and exceeds safe levels in a significant number of homes. The following quote from the EPA guide describes the significance of radon gas infiltration:
"Although some scientists dispute the precise number of deaths due to radon, all the major health organizations (like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the American Lung Association and the American Medical Association) agree with estimates that radon causes thousands of preventable lung cancer deaths every year. This is especially true among smokers, since the risk to smokers is much greater than to non-smokers."
The homes typically most likely to have radon infiltration problems are those with slab foundations that are old enough for fractures in the slab, even just "micro-fractures." Better insulated homes built over the past three decades or so, are more at risk for high levels of radon, because they more effectively seal the home against air infiltration.

Home owners should have their homes tested, whether they are selling or not—just for the sake of their health—and buyers should order the tests as well. As for real estate professionals, more than the potential financial repercussions are at stake. The health of your clients mandates that you pass on this piece of advice to your buyers.

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