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Inspection Can Reveal Whether Radon Problem Exists

Inspection Can Reveal Whether Radon Problem Exists

If a house touches the ground, it's susceptible, inspector says

FRIDAY, March 11 (HealthDay News) -- Brandon Smith started a radon inspection company of his own when the company for which he made heat-resistant wire closed down after 100 years in business.

Smith and his wife, who live in Battle Creek, Mich., opened their mom-and-pop business, Michigan Radon Agency, in 2005 and now test about 15 houses a week for radon.

"It's not an easy business to get into," Smith said. "You have to get trained, certified and licensed, and have all your business connections in place." And that includes real estate agents. "They're the ones recommending you, so you've got to know a lot of them," he said.

For his testing, which Smith said ranges from $75 to $150, electronic monitors are placed around a house and left for two weeks. He also takes an instant hour-by-hour readout for the homeowners. "It's always done in the basement, if it's livable," he said.

The Down Under: Basement is Cheapest Route to Adding Space

The Down Under: Basement is Cheapest Route to Adding Space

Options are down for homeowners looking to increase their living space – down as in the basement.

“The cheapest way to add livable space to your house is to finish the basement,” said Jake Waltz, general manager of ITG Basement Systems. “If you have a ranch house, it doubles your space, and it doesn’t cost as much as any other option.”

Waltz, who has been with the Northumberland-based company for 18 years, said the first step is to eliminate all sources of water and moisture.

“Water can’t be stopped. It has to be managed,” Waltz said. “We use a water-management system, and when we’re done putting it in, it’s dry. It’s how we can cover just about everything with a lifetime transferable warranty.”

Waltz said new homes almost never come with a water-management system in place because they add to the cost of construction. The price tag varies depending on the size of the area and whether any structural issues need addressing, he said, but the average is about $5,000.

Dr. Gott: What Are Risks From Radon?

Q - After 14 years of using our finished basement rec room on a daily basis, I have discovered the presence of radon gas. The level ranges between 6 and 7. To disassemble the room is far too costly on our retirement income. Recent lung X-rays are OK, so what is our risk of cancer after all these years of daily exposure?

A - Radon is a radioactive gas that comes from the breakdown of uranium. It is found in almost all soils and permeates the air we breathe.

It moves through the ground and into buildings and water supplies through cracks or holes in foundations and solid floors, through gaps in suspended flooring, around service pipes and through walls.

It can enter through well water. Once inside a building, the radon is trapped and builds up to unhealthy levels. It can be found in schools, offices, homes and public buildings.

Radon can't be seen, tasted or smelled, yet reports indicate it causes lung cancer, killing thousands of people every year.

Homefix: Keep an Eye on Radon Levels

Q: Our daughter's family (with a 2-year-old and a 10-day-old) just rented a home in Tacoma, Wash., that was built in 1920. It was recently remodeled, except the basement. The basement is dry, but the kids will spend playtime down there on rainy days. Should they be concerned about radon?

A:We should all be concerned about radon gas in our homes, and all homes should be checked. Radon is a colorless, odorless, naturally occurring radioactive gas, the result of the decay of radium in the soils. Radon is a known health hazard, estimated by the Environmental Protection Agency to be the second-leading cause of lung cancer in the United States, responsible for 20,000 deaths each year.

How to Keep Your Basement Dry and Illuminated

Most basements are used mainly for storage. By clearing out all the junk down there and fixing it up nice, this great space can be used to dramatically increase the usable living space in your home at a very low cost. Remodeling an existing basement is considerably cheaper than adding onto your home by thousands of dollars. A basement can be used for anything. You can transform your downstairs dungeon into a lively entertainment area, living room, gym or anything else you have in mind.

Not every basement is a good candidate for being remodeled into a living space. You will need to consider how to control moisture, adding ventilation and light, and finding a way around hanging drain lines, ductwork and wiring. Most of the work can be done yourself, but some of it will need the attention of an experienced professional.

The most important factor in remodeling your basement is keeping it dry down there. Most water problems are caused by roof runoff.

Basements have elevated radon more often than slab on grade which have elevated radon more often than crawl space homes.

User photo for: Jim McNees Alabama

Back in 1987 Alabama participated in the EPA national radon survey. 789 of our participants were self select, meaning they responded to our request for volunteers. 1,299 of our participants were randomly selected for solicitation by the EPA contractor. In areas of Alabama with significant indoor radon, the occurrence of homes with radon test results greater than 4 pCi/l was about twice as great in the self select participants as in the random select participants! Twice as great a % over 4 pCi/l.

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