radonI am selling my house. What should I know about Radon?


 

Don’t Ignore It! Radon Is a Serious Health Issue

Radon is a radioactive gas that you cannot see, smell, or taste and can get into your home undetected. It is the second leading cause of lung cancer after smoking and the leading cause of lung cancer for non-smokers. When radon escapes from the ground into the outdoor air it is diluted to low concentrations and is no cause for concern. However, when radon enters an enclosed space, like a home, it can accumulate to high levels and become a health hazard. If the radon levels in a home is high, it can be easily fixed at a reasonable price. Health Canada states on their website that remediating a “sub-slab or sub-membrane depressurization systems range in cost from about $2,000 to $3,000 including material and labour”.

 

Be Sure to Do a Long Term Test

Health Canada recommends that houses be tested for a minimum of 3 months, ideally between September and April when windows and doors are typically kept closed. Almost all homes have some radon in them, the question is how much. The only way to know is to measure. Radon levels in a home can vary a lot from hour to hour and day to day, so the most accurate way to find out if you have a problem is to measure radon levels in your home for at least 3 months.

Radon testing is easy and inexpensive. There are two options: purchase a do-it-yourself test kit or hire a radon measurement professional. Do-it-yourself kits include instructions on how to set up the test and submit the results for analysis. Radon test kits can be purchased by phone, online, or from home improvement retailers. The cost of testing ranges from $25 to $75. For professional testing, Health Canada recommends consulting with a contractor certified by the Canadian National Radon Proficiency Program (C- NRPP). Radon-testing professionals are located throughout Canada and a list of professionals can be found on their website: www.c – nrpp.ca or by calling 1-855-722-6777.

 

Do I Need to Reduce the Radon Level in my Home?

If you’ve tested your home, and the radon levels are above the Canadian guideline of 200 Bq/m³, Health Canada recommends that you take action to lower the level. The higher the radon concentrations, the sooner action should be taken to reduce levels to as low as practically possible. While the health risk from radon exposure below the Canadian Guideline is small, there is no level that is considered risk free. It is the choice of each homeowner to decide what level of radon exposure they are willing to accept.

 

Lower the Radon Levels in Your Home, It’s Easy

If your Radon levels are high, reduce it! You should fix your home if your radon levels is higher than the Canadian Guideline of 200 Becquerel’s per metre cubed (Bq/m³). Reducing the amount of Radon in your home is easy. Techniques to lower radon levels are effective and can save lives. Radon levels in most homes can be reduced by more than 80% for about the same cost as other common home repairs such as replacing the furnace or air conditioner.

Sub-slab depressurization (also called active soil depressurization) is the most effective and reliable Radon reduction technique. It is also the most common method used by C-NRPP certified professionals.

This method involves installing a pipe through the foundation floor slab and attaching a fan that runs continuously to draw the Radon gas from below the home and release it into the outdoors where it is quickly diluted. This system also reverses the air pressure difference between the house and soil, reducing the amount of radon that is drawn into the home through the foundation.

What are my Options as a Seller?

Due to the significant delays in performing the most accurate (long term) Radon test, there are options you may consider during the listing phase of your house. In preparing your home for sale, you can do a Radon test, but remember the long-term test recommended by Health Canada is for a minimum period of 3 months. If you receive an offer to purchase prior to the test being concluded, the following options may be presented for your consideration:

  1. An Offer to Purchase that reflects how much a Radon mitigation system will cos The issue is then handled through the price negotiation.
  2. An Offer to Purchase can be conditional on the completion of a Radon test.
  3. A Buyer may ask for a clause stating that the seller agrees to put a negotiated amount in trust with the Buyer’s attorney towards the cost of a radon monitoring report, and/or the cost of mitigation should the testing have to be completed after the sale closes, with funds only dispersed after documentation of the mitigation being completed. If radon testing is not above 200 Bq/m3, the balance of funds in trust would then be returned to the Seller. This clause may cause concern with some financial lenders.

 

NBREA, CREA, C-NRPP and the Canadian Association of Radon Scientists and Technologists (CARST) agree with Health Canada’s recommendations that homeowners use a long-term test—conducted over a minimum of three months during the fall or winter months. Indoor radon levels fluctuate day-to-day, depending on the season. A three-month test is more accurate and representative of a person’s annual average exposure and should be used to determine if a home’s radon concentration exceeds the Canadian guideline of 200 Becquerel per cubic metre (Bq/m³). While short-term tests exist, longer-term tests provide a more representative annual average for radon exposure.

As a duty of care, your client needs to be informed that this clause may cause concern with some financial lenders.

NBREA, CREA, C-NRPP and the Canadian Association of Radon Scientists and Technologists (CARST) agree with Health Canada’s recommendations that homeowners use a long-term test—conducted over a minimum of three months during the fall or winter months. Indoor radon levels fluctuate day-to-day, depending on the season. A three-month test is more accurate and representative of a person’s annual average exposure and should be used to determine if a home’s radon concentration exceeds the Canadian guideline of 200 Becquerel per cubic metre (Bq/m³). While short-term tests exist, longer-term tests provide a more representative annual average for radon exposure.

How can I find out more?

http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/ewh-semt/pubs/radiation/radon_brochure/index-eng.php

  • Health Canada Radon Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):

http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/ewh-semt/radiation/radon/faq_fq-eng.php

  • Health Canada Radon Reduction Guide for Canadians. (This site offers a free 36-page booklet, also states “Be Sure to do a Long-Term test.)

http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/ewh-semt/pubs/radiation/radon_canadians-canadiens/index-eng.php

  • Government of Canada Health Risks website:

http://healthycanadians.gc.ca/security-securite/radiation/radon/home-test-maison-eng.php

  • Radiation Safety Institute of Canada. They also offer a D-I-Y Radon testing service that includes analysis of the results.

http://www.radiationsafety.ca/community/home-radon-testing

  • The Canadian Lung Association offers health-related information about Radon. –  http://www.lung.ca/radon
  • The Canadian National Radon Proficiency Program (C-NRPP) Also includes a directory of certified individuals in five different service areas involving radon, including Radon Measurement Professional and Radon Mitigation Professional

http://c-nrpp.ca/find-a-professional

** NOTE: NBREA nor any member REALTOR® is not responsible for the content of these websites. **

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