5 On Your Side

High radon reading not enough to give up on a dream home

Posted May 17

Radon, a radioactive, odorless gas emitted from the soil is surprisingly common in North Carolina, and it is a concern for homeowners or those looking to buy a house.

A home inspection should always include a radon test. Radon can seep into homes and buildings through cracks. Inhaling it has been linked to lung cancer, killing an alarming 21,000 people a year.

If a home test shows high levels of radon, it's not the end of the world. Radon-related deaths are connected with exposure over the course of a lifetime, and Consumer Reports says that exposure can be dealt with.

"You should definitely take it seriously, but you really don't need to walk away from the home. It's actually pretty easy to remove radon, and it's not that expensive," said Paul Hope, Consumer Reports home editor.

Since radon levels can vary over time, Consumer Reports suggests repeated testing. They recommend the RTCA 4Pass test, which costs about $23 and delivers results within a week. For a better representation, test over at least 90 days with the $25 Accustar Alpha.

If radon registers between 2 and 4 picocuries per liter, a home repair is in order. For about $1,200, homeowners can install a pipe that vents radon from the soil out through the roof.

In North Carolina, sellers are required by law to disclose any known radon hazards to potential buyers. It's on the seller's disclosure form, but if a recent test hasn't been completed, homebuyers should ask for one at their home inspection.

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