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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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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 — dep.pa.gov/Business/RadiationProtection/RadonDivisionA 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 email@example.com
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, firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @jhimler_news
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