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What is Radon? The Radon Basics

  • Radon is a naturally occurring, radioactive gas found in soil and rock. It seeps into homes through cracks in the foundation, walls, and joints. In some parts of the country, groundwater can be a major source of radon. All homes should be tested for radon.
  • Among non-smokers, radon is the leading cause of lung cancer in the United States.
  • Lung cancer due to radon exposure claims about 21,000 U.S. lives annually, based on EPA estimates.
  • In many cases lung cancer can be prevented; this is especially true for radon-related lung cancer.
  • Using common materials and straightforward techniques, builders can construct new homes that are resistant to radon entry.

Consider these facts on the radon basics:

1  Radon-resistant new construction (RRNC) typically costs a builder between $250 and $750.

2  RRNC could cost less than $250 if the builder already uses some of the same techniques for moisture control.

3  For a builder, it is much less expensive to install a radon-resistant system during construction than to go back and fix a radon problem identified later.

4  If a new homeowner tests for radon and has to mitigate high levels, it could cost the builder or the owner as much as $2,500.

Building New Homes with Radon-Resistant Features

  • New homes can be built to resist radon entry. The additional cost at the time of construction is minimal.
  • When installed properly, the basic radon-resistant new construction techniques greatly reduce the lung cancer risk that may occur from radon in the home.
  • Some builders use the same construction techniques for better moisture control.
  • More than 1.5 million homes have been built since 1990 using radon-resistant techniques, based on an annual survey of builders conducted by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) Research Center.
  • According to NAHB, “By the end of 2007, more than half of NAHB’s members, who build more than 80 percent of the homes in this country, will be incorporating green practices into the development, design and construction of new homes.”
  • One of the six primary sections of the NAHB Model Green Home Building Guidelines  is “Occupancy Comfort and Indoor Environmental Quality.” This includes a “healthier indoor living environment.”

For peace of mind, ask your builder to include a radon reduction system in your new home and test your new home for elevated levels (4 pCi/L or more) of radon gas before you move.

Thank you to the EPA for this Radon Basics List

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