A Cleveland-area member grew concerned about the presence of radon in his home after tests found high levels of the gas in his neighbor’s house.
Angie's List member David Williams of Brecksville, Ohio, grew concerned about the presence of radon in his home after tests found high levels of the gas in his neighbor’s house. A DIY home monitor kit showed a high level of the odorless gas that is the number one cause of lung cancer among nonsmokers and a leading environmental cause of the disease, according to the EPA.
Williams paid highly rated All Ohio Radon Services of Akron about $1,050 to retest and mitigate. The retest showed it was at least 10 picocuries per liter, above the acceptable 4 pCi/L, Williams recalls. Four days later, the radon dropped to a safe level, and it’s one less health concern for Williams, his wife and their cat.
“I’m real happy to have it,” Williams says.
Radon, a radioactive byproduct of uranium found in Ohio’s soil, seeps through cracks in the basement or foundation and concentrates in the lower level, particularly in homes with finished basements, which are common in Ohio. According to the EPA, much of Ohio is in a “radon zone” that includes areas at risk for radon levels above 4 pCi/L, including several counties in northeast Ohio. Large appliances, specifically older ones that use interior air for combustion, also pull radon into homes, says Fred Freer, owner of highly rated Four Square Home Inspections of Cleveland.
Installing a radon mitigation system, which costs between$1,000 and $1,200, proves more effective than other methods of reducing radon, such as sealing cracks and encapsulating a crawl space, says Wayne Porter, owner of All Ohio Radon Services.
Installing a mitigation system involves cutting a hole through the concrete floor or foundation and creating a tunnel made of PVC pipes that pulls radon from the home and into the atmosphere to reduce levels inside. “We know now that long-term exposures to low levels of radon can be as harmful as high levels of short-term exposure,” says Freer, who charges $200 for a radon test done with a home inspection and $250 for a stand-alone test.
Newer homes tend to be better sealed, allowing less radon to seep in, says Freer, but he suggests testing regardless of the home’s age. The Ohio Department of Health, with federal funds from the EPA, developed an indoor radon program in 1990, after a study commissioned by the Ohio Legislature found elevated radon levels in homes, says program supervisor Chuck McCracken. Through the program, which regulates and licenses radon testers and mitigators, homeowners can purchase discounted home test kits.
McCracken and other experts say, however, that a continuous monitor operated by a licensed tester should follow a DIY test as it gives hour-by-hour data for 48 hours. “The test kit is a good first step,” Porter says. All Ohio Radon Services performs radon testing after installing a mitigation system but doesn’t do initial testing, instead relying on results from a licensed professional to avoid a conflict of interest, Porter says. “There is no home that has no radon,” Porter says. “About 50 percent of homes in Ohio will test at about that 4.0.”
Like Williams, Mentor member Christina Fournier tested her home after learning of a neighbor’s high radon level. Fournier called All Ohio Radon to mitigate her condo for about $1,500 after using a store-bought kit. “We had lived here for over six years before we knew,” Fournier says. “It never even occurred to us to have it checked.”