Radon providers must be certified by the California Department of Public Health
Any person offering radon testing services, who is not a certified professional, is in violation of CA Health and Safety Code sec 106790. Any test results would be invalid for legal purposes. Violation of this regulation is considered a misdemeanor and the individual may be fined up to $1,000, and their business will be reported to the appropriate consumer protection agency or licensing board.
To verify that a person is a Certified Radon Tester click on this link: https://www.cdph.ca.gov/Programs/CEH/DRSEM/CDPH Document Library/EMB/Radon/Ca Cert Testers.pdf. To report a person selling radon services without the proper Certification, email the radon program at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (916) 449-5674.
California Civil Code Sec 1102 – 1102.18: Requires sellers of real property containing up to four residential units to complete a disclosure form indicating the presence of all environmental hazards, including radon gas, formaldehyde, and mold, that are known to the seller. Requires resale of manufactured homes and mobile homes to include disclosure of environmental hazards in the home interior or exterior, including radon, formaldehyde, and lead-based paint, as well as the existence of a carbon monoxide device.
Radon is a colorless, tasteless, naturally-occurring, radioactive gas found throughout the U.S. that is extremely dangerous when present in high levels in your home. Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States and is estimated to cause more than 20,000 deaths each year.
Radon comes from the natural (radioactive) breakdown of uranium in soil, rock, and water, and gets into the air you breathe. Radon can get into any type of building – homes, offices, and schools – resulting in a high indoor level of radon gas. Since radon is invisible and odorless, the only way to know if your home has a radon problem is through a professional test. The EPA and the Surgeon General recommend testing all homes below the third floor for radon.
Fortunately, you can fix a radon problem! Radon reduction systems work and they are affordable to implement. Some radon reduction systems can reduce radon gas in your home by up to 99%, and even very high levels can be brought down to acceptable levels.
Radon and Lung Cancer
How Does Radon Get Into Your Home?
Any home may have a radon problem. Radon typically moves up through the ground to the air above and into your home through cracks and other holes in the foundation. Your home traps radon inside, where it can build up to unsafe levels. Any home may have a radon problem. This means new and old homes, well-sealed and drafty homes, and homes with or without basements.
RADON GETS IN THROUGH:
- Cracks in solid floors
- Construction joints
- Cracks in walls
- Gaps in suspended floors
- Gaps around service pipes
- Cavities inside walls
- The water supply
Nearly 1 out of every 15 homes in the U.S. is estimated to have elevated radon levels. While radon problems may be more common in some areas, any home may have a problem. The only way to know about the levels of radon in your home is to test.
Radon can also be a problem in schools and workplaces. Ask your state radon office about radon problems in schools, daycare and childcare facilities, and workplaces in your area.
How to Test Your Home
Radon Detectors – This photograph shows two types of inexpensive indoor radon level detectors. The short-term detector (a) uses activated charcoal to absorb radon from the air and is typically used for tests lasting between 2 and 7 days. The long-term alpha-track detector (b) consists of a piece of special plastic inside a container. It is typically used for tests of 91 days or more. The detectors are sent to certified laboratories for analysis when the collection time has expired.
There are Two General Ways to Test for Radon:
The quickest way to test is with short-term tests. Short-term tests remain in your home for two days to 90 days, depending on the device. “Charcoal canisters,” “alpha track,” “electret ion chamber,” “continuous monitors,” and “charcoal liquid scintillation” detectors are most commonly used for short-term testing. Because radon levels tend to vary from day to day and season to season, a short-term test is less likely than a long-term test to tell you your year-round average radon level.
Long-term tests remain in your home for more than 90 days. “Alpha track” and “electret” detectors are commonly used for this type of testing. A long-term test will give you a reading that is more likely to tell you your home’s year-round average radon level than a short-term test.
EPA Recommends the Following Testing Steps:
Step 1. Take a short-term test. If your result is 4 pCi/L or higher take a follow-up test (Step 2) to be sure.
Step 2. Follow up with either a long-term test or a second short-term test:
For a better understanding of your year-round average radon level, take a long-term test. If you need results quickly, take a second short-term test. The higher your initial short-term test result, the more certain you can be that you should take a short-term rather than a long-term follow up test. If your first short-term test result is more than twice EPA’s 4 pCi/L action level, you should take a second short-term test immediately.
Step 3. If you followed up with a long-term test:
Fix your home if your long-term test result is 4 pCi/L or more. If you followed up with a second short-term test: The higher your short-term results, the more certain you can be that you should fix your home. Consider fixing your home if the average of your first and second test is 4 pCi/L or higher.
What Your Test Results Mean
Test your home now and save your results. If you find high radon levels, fix your home before you decide to sell it.
The average indoor radon level is estimated to be about 1.3 pCi/L, and about 0.4 pCi/L of radon is normally found in the outside air. The U.S. Congress has set a long-term goal that indoor radon levels be no more than outdoor levels. While this goal is not yet technologically achievable in all cases, most homes today can be reduced to 2 pCi/L or below.
Sometimes short-term tests are less definitive about whether or not your home is above 4 pCi/L. This can happen when your results are close to 4 pCi/L. For example, if the average of your two short-term test results is 4.1 pCi/L, there is about a 50% chance that your year-round average is somewhat below 4 pCi/L. However, EPA believes that any radon exposure carries some risk – no level of radon is safe. Even radon levels below 4 pCi/L pose some risk, and you can reduce your risk of lung cancer by lowering your radon level.
If your living patterns change and you begin occupying a lower level of your home (such as a basement) you should retest your home on that level.
Even if your test result is below 4 pCi/L, you may want to test again sometime in the future.
Radon and Home Sales
More and more, home buyers and renters are asking about radon levels before they buy or rent a home. Because real estate sales happen quickly, there is often little time to deal with radon and other issues. The best thing to do is to test for radon NOW and save the results to share with your potential buyer. Fix a problem if it exists so it won’t complicate your home sale. You can also use the results of two short-term tests done side-by-side (four inches apart) to decide whether to fix your home.
During home sales, the buyers often want the following information:
- Buyers often ask if a home has been tested, and if elevated levels were reduced.
- Buyers frequently want tests made by someone who is not involved in the home sale. Your state radon office can assist you in identifying a qualified tester.
- Buyers might want to know the radon levels in areas of the home (like a basement they plan to finish) that the seller might not otherwise test.
Today many homes are built to prevent radon from coming in. Your state or local area may require these radon-resistant construction features. If you are buying or renting a new home, ask the owner or builder if it has radon-resistant features. The EPA recommends building new homes with radon-resistant features in high radon potential (Zone 1) areas. Even if built radon-resistant, every new home should be tested for radon after occupancy. If you have a test result of 4 pCi/L or more, you can have a qualified mitigator easily add a vent fan to an existing passive system for about $300 and further reduce the radon level in your home.
The Risk of Living With Radon
Radon gas decays into radioactive particles that can get trapped in your lungs when you breathe. As they break down further, these particles release small bursts of energy. This can damage lung tissue and lead to lung cancer over the course of your lifetime. Not everyone exposed to elevated levels of radon will develop lung cancer. And the amount of time between exposure and the onset of the disease may be many years.
Like other environmental pollutants, there is some uncertainty about the magnitude of radon health risks. However, we know more about radon risks than risks from most other cancer-causing substances. This is because estimates of radon risks are based on studies of cancer in humans (underground miners).
Smoking combined with radon is an especially serious health risk. Stop smoking and lower your radon level to reduce your lung cancer risk.
Children have been reported to have greater risk than adults for certain types of cancer from radiation, but there are currently no conclusive data on whether children are at greater risk than adults from radon.
Your chances of getting lung cancer from radon depend mostly on:
- How much radon is in your home
- The amount of time you spend in your home
- Whether you are a smoker or have ever smoked