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DEP urges testing for radon; 40 percent of Pa. homes said to exceed EPA standard

Pennsylvania's Real Estate Seller Disclosure Act requires sellers to reveal the results of any known radon testing.

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Sign up for one of our email newsletters. Forty percent of Pennsylvania homes have levels of radon that exceed standards set by the Environmental Protection Agency, according to the state Department of Environmental Protection During January, national Radon Action Month, state officials are urging residents to test their homes for the odorless, colorless radioactive gas — the second leading cause of lung cancer behind smoking, according to the U.SSurgeon General Radon occurs naturally from the breakdown of uranium in soil and rocks and enters homes through cracks in the foundation or other openingsHigh levels of radon tend to occur in basements, but the gas can be found anywhere in a home The EPA explains that radon can be drawn into a home because the air pressure inside the building usually is lower than the pressure in the soil around the foundation “Because of the state's geology, Pennsylvanians are at risk of exposure to high radon levels, ” DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell said in a news releaseHe recommended that residents purchase an inexpensive do-it-yourself radon test kit at a hardware store or hire a qualified professional to conduct a test Winter is a good time to test for radon because doors and windows generally are closed, providing more accurate results, the DEP notes The EPA and Surgeon General recommend taking action to reduce a radon level of 4 picocuries per liter of air or higherA variety of professionally installed radon-reduction systems are available, including a vent pipe and exhaust fan to discharge radon gas outside a home According to the EPA, costs of radon-reduction systems commonly range from $800 to $2,500Pennsylvania law requires all professional radon testers, mitigators and laboratories to be certified by the DEP It's recommended that those who have installed a radon-reduction system perform follow-up tests for the gas every two yearsFor homes where levels are detected below the EPA standard, retesting is recommended at the time of any home renovation or excavation For more information about radon, including a list of certified service providers, click on “Radon in the home” at the DEP Radon Division website — hard copy of the list can be obtained by calling the state's radon hotline, 800-237-2366The division can be contacted via email at The DEP suggests installing a passive radon system during construction of a new home and notes there is no reliable way to test the ground in advance for the gas Pennsylvania's Real Estate Seller Disclosure Act requires sellers to reveal the results of any known radon testing Jeff Himler is a Tribune-Review staff writerReach him at 724-836-6622, or via Twitter @jhimler_news More Pennsylvania Audit to examine impact of toll hikes on Pennsylvania Turnpike traffic, revenue Pain running for underground natural gas liquids storage hub Mortgage company to pay $1.2M in restitution to Pennsylvanians State police: New Year's DUIs down, but crashes double Heating bill help available for some Pennsylvania gas customers TribLIVE commenting policy You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service. We moderate commentsOur goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readershipBy screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information. While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjectiveWe will make them as carefully and consistently as we canBecause of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers. We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politelyWe make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaperA few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTINGDon't include URLs to Web sites. We do not edit commentsThey are either approved or deletedWe reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an articleIn this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation. We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly. We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertionsBut these suggestions should be sent via e-mailTo avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correctionInstead,

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