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PROPERTY & CASUALTY
JAN 11, 2018
January is National Radon Action Month
January is National Radon Action Month. When we think of radon risk, we usually think of testing our homes for the dangerous gas. But any building where people are going to spend any major amount of time – residential or commercial – should be tested to make sure it’s safe.
Radon is a radioactive gas that is naturally released by specific rocks, soil and water. While it is usually harmless outdoors, indoors it can build to dangerous levels. What makes radon dangerous? It’s the leading cause of lung cancer deaths among non-smokers in the U.S., killing about 21,000 Americans annually. That’s why the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Surgeon General advise radon testing in homes, schools and other buildings to protect the inhabitants.
About Radon Testing
Radon can be found in most areas in the U.S., yet levels can vary significantly between two buildings that are right next to each other. The gas seeps into buildings through cracks in the foundation or other entry points. But exposure to radon is preventable and its levels can be detected through simple testing.
While all building and businesses should be tested, those that cater to children and the elderly are usually regulated. These include:
Assisted living facilities
Memory care for the elderly
Long term care facilities
If your building falls under one of these categories, you are probably required to test for radon prior to construction, before securing a license to operate or when a problem occurs. It pays to be proactive and find out ahead of time if your property is subject to radon regulations, and be sure to comply if there are.
When testing, you’re looking for radon levels below 4 picocuries per liter (pCi/L). If the radon level is above 4 pCi/L, the EPA recommends to take corrective measures to reduce exposure. If your building has never been tested, you’ll want to do a test as soon possible. The first round of tests should be performed during two different heating and cooling seasons, i.e. one in the spring and the other in the fall. After that, you can test every two years unless negative circumstances arise.
How to Test for Radon
First Radon Test
– You can find a radon test kit at any hardware or home improvement store. Be sure that the test kits have been approved by either the National Radon Proficiency Program or the National Radon Safety Board. You can also have the test conducted by a licensed radon professional. If the test shows healthy radon levels, you’re set until the next season’s test. If not, you’ll want to move to the next step.
– If your radon levels are unsafe, you should run an additional test to confirm the results. Businesses usually opt to have a radon professional perform the second test. If the second test comes back below 4 pCi/L, then you’re done until next season. If the level is unsafe, a testing professional will perform a third test over several months to determine long-term average levels. If the average is under 4 pCi/L, then you’re done for a few months. If levels are high, move to the next step.
– If your radon levels are high, you should hire a professional to help you put together a remediation plan. The plan could include adding a barrier inside the foundation, new ventilation, removing any dangerous materials and/or modifying your building’s heating and cooling systems. You’ll want to implement any remediation plan as soon as you are able.
Radon requirements can vary by state, but you can find building codes, an interactive map of radon zones and other pertinent information on the
. Or you can always contact your local Amerisure Loss Control Consultant at (800) 257-1900 or