Radon is a naturally occurring gas that has been found to cause cancer. The US Surgeon General has issued a health advisory regarding radon. “Indoor radon is the second-leading cause of lung cancer in the United States and breathing it over prolonged periods can present a significant health risk to families all over the country. It’s important to know that this threat is completely preventable. Radon can be detected with a simple test and fixed through well-established venting techniques.”
The average outdoor concentration of radon is .4 pCi/L while indoor the average is 1.3 pCi/L. Through mitigation it is possible to lower the indoor levels to .5-2.0 pCi/L. It’s impossible to get to 0 pCi/L.
Radon levels will fluctuate with the season and weather. Typically radon will be highest in the winter and lowest in the summer. Radon is also higher is wet stormy weather.
As the seller there are some things that can be done to help before a test. The easiest is to seal any cracks in the concrete floor or block foundation using polyurethane caulk. Another big one is to seal any sump pumps or other intrusions through the concrete slab or block wall.
As a buyer it is important to know the effects of radon prior to the real estate transaction, and to understand what causes elevated radon levels. The VDH has published a booklet Home Buyers and Sellers Guide to Radon. It is a great resource, full of valuable information regarding radon.