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The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) and the Surgeon General’s Office have estimated that as many as 20,000 lung cancer deaths are caused each year by radon. Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer. Radon-induced lung cancer costs the United States over $2 billion dollars per year in both direct and indirect health care costs. (Based on National Cancer Institute statistics of 14,400 annual radon lung cancer deaths – Oster, Colditz & Kelley, 1984)
According to the US EPA, nearly 1 in 3 homes checked in seven states and on three Indian lands had screening levels over 4 pCi/L, the EPA’s recommended action level for radon exposure.
The alpha radiation emitted by radon is the same alpha radiation emitted by other alpha generating radiation sources such as plutonium.
A family whose home has radon levels of 4 pCi/L is exposed to approximately 35 times as much radiation as the Nuclear Regulatory Commission would allow if that family was standing next to the fence of a radioactive waste site. (25 mrem limit, 800 mrem exposure)
An elementary school student that spends 8 hours per day and 180 days per year in a classroom with 4 pCi/L of radon will receive nearly 10 times as much radiation as the Nuclear Regulatory Commission allows at the edge of a nuclear power plant. (25 mrem limit, 200 mrem exposure)
Most U.S. EPA lifetime safety standards for carcinogens are established based on a 1 in 100,000 risk of death. Most scientists agree that the risk of death for radon at 4 pCi/L is approximately 1 in 100. At the 4 pCi/L EPA action guideline level, radon carries approximately 1000 times the risk of death as any other EPA carcinogen. It is important to note that the action level is not a safe level, as there are no “safe” levels of radon gas.
Radon is a cancer-causing radioactive gas. You cannot see, smell or taste radon, but it may be a problem in your home. The Surgeon General has warned that radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States today. If you smoke and your home has high radon levels, you’re at high risk for developing lung cancer. Some scientific studies of radon exposure indicate that children may be more sensitive to radon. This may be due to their higher respiration rate and their rapidly dividing cells, which may be more vulnerable to radiation damage.
PROPERTIES: Radon is a gaseous highly radioactive element discovered by English physicist Ernest Rutherford in 1899. The discovery is also credited to German physicist Friedrich Ernst Dorn in 1900. More specifically, Rutherford discovered radon’s alpha radiation and Dorn discovered that radium was releasing a gas.
Radon is a colorless chemically-unreactive inert gas. The atomic radius is 1.34 angstroms and it is the heaviest known gas–radon is nine times denser than air. Because it is a single atom gas (unlike oxygen, O2, which is comprised of two atoms) it easily penetrates many common materials like paper, leather, low-density plastic (like plastic bags, etc.) most paints, and building materials like gypsum board (sheetrock), concrete block, mortar, sheathing paper (tar paper), wood paneling, and most insulations.
Radon is also fairly soluble in water and organic solvents. Although reaction with other compounds is comparatively rare, it is not completely inert and forms stable molecules with highly electronegative materials. Radon is considered a noble gas that occurs in several isotopic forms. Only two are found in significant concentrations in the human environment: radon-222, and radon-220. Radon-222 is a member of the radioactive decay chain of uranium-238. Radon-220 is formed in the decay chain of thorium-232. Radon-222 decays in a sequence of radionuclides called radon decay products, radon daughters, or radon progeny. It is radon-222 that most readily occurs in the environment. Atmospheric releases of radon-222 results in the formation of decay products that are radioisotopes of heavy metals (polonium, lead, bismuth) and rapidly attach to other airborne materials such as dust and other materials facilitating inhalation.
USE: Radon has been used in some spas for presumed medical effects. In addition, radon is used to initiate and influence chemical reactions and as a surface label in the study of surface reactions. It has been obtained by pumping the gasses off of a solution of a radium salt, sparking the gas mixture to combine the hydrogen and oxygen, removing the water and carbon dioxide by adsorption, and freezing out the radon.
PRODUCTION: Radon is not produced as a commercial product. Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas and comes from the natural breakdown (radioactive decay) of uranium. It is usually found in igneous rock and soil, but in some cases, well water may also be a source of radon.
EXPOSURE: The primary routes of potential human exposure to radon are inhalation and ingestion. Radon in the ground, groundwater, or building materials enters working and living spaces and disintegrates into its decay products. Although high concentrations of radon in groundwater may contribute to radon exposure through ingestion, the inhalation of radon released from water is usually more important.
RADON IN THE WORKPLACE: In comparison with levels in outdoor air, humans in confined air spaces, particularly in underground work areas such as mines and buildings, are exposed to elevated concentrations of radon and its decay products. Exhalation of radon from ordinary rock and soils and from radon-rich water can cause significant radon concentrations in tunnels, power stations, caves, public baths, and spas. The average radon concentrations in houses are generally much lower than the average radon concentrations in underground ore mines.
Workers are exposed to radon in several occupations. In countries for which data were available, concentrations of radon decay products in underground mines are now typically less than 1000 Bq/m3 EEC Rn (approx. 28 pCi/L). Underground uranium miners are exposed to the highest levels of radon and its decay products. Other underground workers and certain mineral processing workers may also be exposed to significant levels.
Testing is the only way to know your home’s radon levels. There are no immediate symptoms that will alert you to the presence of radon. It typically takes years of exposure before any problems surface. The US EPA, Surgeon General, American Lung Association, American Medical Association, and National Safety Council recommend testing your home for radon because testing is the only way to know your home’s radon levels.
Radon is a national environmental health problem. Elevated radon levels have been discovered in every state. The US EPA estimates that as many as 8 million homes throughout the country have elevated levels of radon. Current state surveys show that 1 home in 5 has elevated radon levels.
If your home has high concentrations of radon there are ways to reduce it to acceptable levels. Most radon problems can be fixed by a do-it-yourselfer for less than $700. If you want or require the assistance of a professional you may wish to look at the list of certified radon mitigators for your state.
Our friends at Scott Home Inspection, find a wide range of problems during their home inspections. These issues can range from major structural problems to minor cosmetic scratches. Sometimes they will find something that makes us wonder “How is that even possible?” But those are the kinds of issues that make our day interesting and fun! After performing 4000 home inspections in 2017, Scott Home Inspections have compiled a list of the 10 most common home inspection problems that we identified this last year
#10: Deck Staining
Periodic maintenance on decks and hand-railing areas is often neglected. Warping of the material can occur without proper coating and protection. Often cleaning alone and re-staining may be sufficient, but occasionally a complete sanding and re-finishing is needed.
#9: Missing GFCI Outlets
GFCI protection outlets should be installed in wet locations, such as bathrooms and kitchens, and in garages and basements. While this was not always a requirement, it is a recommended upgrade when noted. This makes it on the list of common home inspection problems because many homes are older, and were built before they required GFCIs in these locations. Want to learn more about GFCI outlets? Read our article here.
#8: Crawlspace Vapor Barriers
Moisture can enter a home through the soil in a crawlspace. Crawlspace venting was added to newer homes to relieve this concern, but many homes have insulated crawlspaces with sealed-off vents, and improper coverage of the soil. Plastic sheet vapor barriers provide a block to trap moisture in the soil and prevent it from coming into the crawlspace.
#7: Furnace – Filter/Cleaning/Service
Furnace cleaning and service is often neglected, and filter replacement is rarely performed regularly. While the furnace may operate properly, a service check-up is often recommended.
#6: Roots in the Sewer Line
Sewer Scope inspections on older homes often reveal root intrusion in the main sewer line. Cutting and cleaning of the line is often needed, in order to re-scope the line. Then it is possible to look for cracks and offsets. Main sewer line issues can occur at any time, so it is a good idea to have your sewer line scoped regularly. For more information on our sewer scope service, click here.
#5: Electric Panel Issues
Several older brands of panels were installed in homes in our area requiring replacement, such as Federal Pacific and Zinsco. Other improper issues such as double-tapping, missing labeling, or aluminum wiring is occasionally noted, requiring an electrician to repair. Once again, older electrical components made it on the list of common home inspection problems.
#4: Concrete Cracks/Settlement
With our clay-soils in Colorado, concrete settlement is common. Most concrete is non-structural, and most cracks are not significant enough to require repair. Mud-jacking and other options exist, aside from replacement when cracking is noted. Mud jacking is a powerful process. You can learn more about it in this video.
#3: Roof Defects
Most homeowners don’t usually walk on their roofs, or have it inspected, unless a leak develops. We often see hail damage, missing shingles, or cracks – all which call for repair or possible roof replacement.
#2: Water Heater Issues
The water heater is one of the most neglected devices in the home, and is only addressed once a leak develops. Severe rusting is common on older water heaters, indicating replacement is over-due.
#1: Gutters, Downspouts, Drainage Issues
Did you guess it? Poor drainage of gutters and downspouts can cause associated structural issues, moisture problems, and concrete settlement issues. This is a small and easy fix but can cause major problems if not addressed. This is by far the most common home inspection issue that we find. Downspout extensions are not the most attractive things, and they can easily get in the way. However, their ability to carry drainage away from the foundation of a home should not be overlooked.
Anything Surprise You?
Nothing too exciting on the most common home inspection problems list. Many of these issues are easily fixable. Remember, there is a solution to every defect we find in a home. Our job is just to make sure you are not surprised by them~
Scott Inspection and Keenan Real Estate will make sure you are covered.
Home is where our most cherished memories are made. Where the stories of our lives are fashioned and held close. As a reflection of our dreams and aspirations, home is the most personal of places.
So we feel very privileged to have assisted many sellers and buyers in 2018 and that you have invited us into your lives and homes. We pray that God will bless you and your families with a wonderful year filled with happiness, heartfelt warmth and many magical moments.
Thank you, Thank you! Have an amazing 2018!
May your Christmas sparkle with moments of love, laughter and goodwill,
and may the year ahead be full of contentment and joy.
Have a Merry Christmas!
House-hunting is not for the weak of heart. It is more than just calling some real estate agents, seeing a few houses, and moving in right after you found one you like. Things can get very challenging when looking for a new home more so if you’re targeting buying a home in a hot neighbourhood. You need to be smart about your search and come up with a game plan for house-hunting success!
Below is our compilation of the top 10 house-hunting mistakes that you need to avoid.
Listening to Advisers Who Don’t Live With You
Input from some people is great, but not if they won’t be living with you anyway. Opinion from other people might confuse you and won’t really help you because they would often be speaking about their needs, not yours.
Going in with No Mortgage Pre-Approval
The last thing you want to convey when house-hunting is for real estate agents and home sellers to think that you’re not serious about your search. This can mean losing out to another buyer who can make a solid offer. More so, mortgage pre-approval lets you know exactly what you can afford.
Not Seizing the Moment
Go see a new listing if you’re interested. Waiting just a few hours can mean someone might beat you to it in a tight market.
Not Checking the Neighbourhood
How would you feel waking up to the neighbour’s loud drum practice on your first morning in your new home? How about having a hard time getting out in the morning because there is a school nearby and the street is filled with family vehicles and school buses? Always check the small details.
Getting a Crush on Sparkly New Features
Newly renovated and newly constructed homes have a tendency to make someone want to own them right off the bat, but you have to think that a home is more than new features! Note that most low-quality finishes and materials look great when new but are worthless in the long run.
Not Being Sure What You Want
You have to know what features you want before shopping for a home or you’ll risk not finding any or being overwhelmed with possible choices. This would save you time too by narrowing your search.
Being Mesmerized By Décor
Don’t forget to assess whether you’re just loving the staged decorations or the home itself. Unless the home sellers are going to leave everything with the house, you’ll end up with a shell that you’re not sure you like anyway.
Not Settling for Anything Less Than Absolute Perfection
Your 100% dream home may not exist, so why not consider one that ticks most of your boxes although not all of it? It’s easy to fall for thinking that something better will be available soon.
Not Taking Your Time in an Open House
You need to have a real feel of the house and explore it in detail before you make the decision of making an offer for it. Check nooks and crannies, open cabinets, use the bathroom, inspect the kitchen and so on. Make sure you don’t skip the basement and the attic!
Forgetting to Have An Agent
House-hunting in a hot market without an agent is a waste of time, energy, hope, and effort. Up your chances of sealing a deal by having an agent who can get you first dibs on new listings. Less negotiation error too!.Visit our website www.perfectfecthouseforyou.com.
Article by Brad Miller, Realty Times