Radon, should I be concerned?

view of 1st StreetYes, you should be concerned. Radon is real and it does exist in Lake Oswego.

Radon is a naturally occurring gas that is radioactive and can seep into our homes from the ground. While Lake Oswego is shown on radon maps as being an area of low to moderate risk, that does not mean that it does not occur in homes in Lake Oswego. Nationally, radon exposure is the leading cause of lung cancer in non-smokers claiming 20,000 lives annually.

How do you know if a home has radon? You get it tested. Testing can be done personally or professionally. Radon test kits are commonly sold in hardware and home improvement stores. The kits include a cannister that is placed in a house for several days and then mailed in a postage paid envelope to a laboratory. Test results come back within days. As a buyer of a home, you should consider including radon testing as part of your home inspection process and make the purchase of your new home contingent on satisfactory radon test results. Be sure to allow about 2 weeks for the test results to be completed.

What if the house comes back having too much radon? What do you do then? If you are living in a home with elevated levels of radon, or if you want to buy a home with elevated levels of radon, don’t panic. Radon can be remedied. Because it seeps into homes from the ground, simply filling in gaps from crawlspaces and making the bottom level of a home less exposed to air from the ground may be sufficient. If greater measures are needed, it is usually in the form of ventilation. An automatic fan system can be put into a crawlspace to circulate air out of the crawlspace so that it does not enter the home. After taking measures to lower the radon levels, re-test the house regularly to make certain that the radon levels remain low.

In my professional experience, radon was more likely to be found in houses built onto hillsides that had very rocky soil. I have been involved in the sale of two homes in Lake Oswego that had elevated levels of radon, one was in First Addition and one was in Village on the Lake. Both homes were easily remedied by means that were affordable.

Don’t be afraid of radon, but do be smart about it. When buying your new home, get it tested. You will sleep better at night knowing that you and your family are safe and not being exposed to radon.

Information for this posting was from the Environmental Protection Agency and can be found at www.epa.gov