Radon is a cancer-causing radioactive gas that you can’t see, smell or taste. According to the Surgeon General, radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States. And if you’re a smoker, your chances of contracting lung cancer are even higher if your home has high levels of radon.
Radon gas has been found in homes all over the U.S. EPA recommends that you know what the indoor radon level is in any home you consider buying. Ask the seller for their radon test results. If the home has a radon-reduction system, ask the seller for information they have about the system. If the home has not yet been tested, you should have the housed tested. If you are having a new home built, there are features that can be incorporated into your home during construction to reduce radon levels.
If you are thinking of buying a home, you may decide to accept an earlier test result from the seller, or ask the seller for a new test to be conducted by a qualified radon tester. Before you accept the seller's test, you should determine:
The results of previous testing.
Who conducted the previous test: the homeowner, a radon professional, or some other person.
Where in the home the previous test was taken, especially if you may plan to live in a lower level of the home. For example, the test may have been taken on the first floor. However, if you want to use the basement as living space, test there.
What, if any, structural changes, alterations, or changes in the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system have been made to the house since the test was done. Such changes may affect radon levels.
If you accept the seller's test, make sure that the test followed the Radon Testing Checklist. If you decide that a new test is needed, discuss it with the seller as soon as possible. If you decide to use a qualified radon tester, check with your state radon office to see if they maintain a list of radon testing companies.
If the home has not yet been tested for radon, make sure that a radon test is done as soon as possible. Consider including provisions in the contract specifying:
Where the test will be located?
Who should conduct the test?
What type of test to do?
When to do the test?
How the seller and the buyer will share the test results and test costs (if necessary)?
When radon mitigation measures will be taken and who will pay for them?