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Have you been tested?

Published: Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2014 11:55 a.m. CST • Updated: Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2014 11:57 a.m. CST

Editor’s Note: January is National Radon Action Month. It is intended to spread the word about the negative effects of radon in hopes of preventing further complications that can arise from radon exposure.  The Iowa Association of Realtors supports raising awareness and informing the public of the facts.  

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You cannot see it. You cannot taste it. You cannot smell it.  How do you know if it’s in your home?  You test for it.  Radon is a natural radioactive gas that can be an attributing cause of cancer.  Radon comes from the natural decay of uranium, which is found in almost all soils.  According to the EPA, the entire state of Iowa is considered a Zone 1/High Risk, meaning that there is a predicted average indoor radon screening level greater than 4 pCi/L or “picocuries per liter of air”.  The target level for indoor radon levels is .4 pCi/L.  

Radon usually moves up through the ground to the air above and then into homes through holes and cracks in the foundation.  The only way to know if your home or workplace has radon is to test it.  Testing is fairly inexpensive and does not take an abundance of time.  EPA and the Surgeon General recommend testing all homes below the third floor.  It also recommends testing schools. If concerning levels of radon are found, there are radon reduction systems that may be installed.  

Informed people have the choice to test and/or mitigate. The Iowa Association of Realtors strongly opposes any legislation that mandates testing or mitigation-specifically at time of transfer.  A bill currently in the Iowa Legislature would mandate testing and mitigation requirements for new construction, schools, and apartments, the bill would require testing for radon gas be conducted on residential structures containing four or fewer dwelling units prior to the sale of the property.  The IAR believes that if legislation is passed, it should not be exclusive to residential properties and not at time of transfer.  Iowa currently has a radon disclosure mandated by law that must be given to all home buyers informing them about the health risks of radon and giving them the option to test.