ATTN Real Estate Community — I’ve been waiting to address this for a while.
Let’s discuss RADON.
As sellers, we’ve all heard the terrible news from the buyer’s inspection. And as buyers, we’ve all been worried when we saw the results.
“Oh no! We’re above the dreaded EPA limit! We are ALL GOING TO DIE in 3 weeks from these radon levels!”
When did this all start?
In the 1940-50’s, “Radon” was first found when they found the levels of it attached to uranium miners, who obviously inhale other contaminants while being exposed to a lot of radiation and mining dust. Because of this, it was theorized that excess lung cancer among the underground miners results from exposure to massive doses of radon. (Aside from the obvious effects of inhaling dust, this calls to mind the old adage, “Too much of anything is a bad thing.”)
This topic came into full swing after 1980, where they would test inside residential homes for radon. The government agencies linked these levels to geographic spots of the country where there was a higher concentration in people with lung cancer.
Yet, even those so-called high-risk areas of the country point to a different story. According to a published by the EPA map, Colorado is one of the states with high residential radon concentrations, while the overall lung cancer incidence rate in Colorado was 54.7 versus 67.7 nationwide, per 100,000, in 2001.
This leads us to wonder: What the heck is up with radon?
My partner and I recently spoke with Dr. Howard Cohen, one of the pre-eminent industrial hygienists in the U.S., whose specialty is respiratory hazards. I’ve linked to his qualifications below. He attests to the fact that, and I quote:
“There is actually NO scientific basis for the EPA’s suggested action level of 4 pCi/L in residential homes for radon. Furthermore there is actually no valid scientific study ever linking residential radon to illness. It would take levels of magnitude exponentially higher than the EPA levels (and 5.5pCi/L is well below that level), before I would consider mitigation of a residence. “
To paraphrase him, mitigation of residential radon is like throwing salt over one’s shoulder to ward off a black cat. Totally a waste of worry, time and money based on a policy devoid of scientific basis. Look at this article from Coaimhim Connel, industrial hygienist which outlines some of factual arguments against the EPA suggested action level. Coaimhim’s findings coincide with the statements that Dr. Cohen independently made in our discussion.
The link explains it in much better detail than I could, and gives the rest of the story: http://www.forensic-applications.com/radon/radon.html#Radon And Risk
Long story short? There is ABSOLUTELY NO SCIENTIFIC link from household levels of Radon to Lung Cancer. NONE. No tests, no studies done. The companies and websites proclaiming how risky radon is only refer to the EPA’s suggested standards, not scientific studies.
Although the effects of radon on the body are not completely understood, there are tests to confirm that there is a lower level of cancer risk in a house with some radon, compare to a house with no radon. (What?!?)
Want more craziness?
I pretty much knew all this was BS before I started installing these for buyers and their inspectors, as an international friend of mine from the Netherlands had once invited me to go to a “radon healing cave” with her. She swears by them, and they have their own studies (be they scientific or not, I’m not saying this is final word). However – why would we have our own “radon healing caves” in Montana, that are WAY above the EPAs “standard” of 4.0, if they are so bad for us? In fact, on-going clinical studies have linked radon therapy to lower inflammation, and long-lasting recovery of the immune system.
Radon Companies & Fear Tactics
Radon companies – similar to certain term life insurance policies – use fear-based selling. They’ve done such a great job over the past 30 years of scaring the bejeepers out of the common folk, so that they would reap the profits. As the Mass Legislature would put it, they use “What about the CHILDREN??” fear tactics.
I’ve installed dozens of these systems in our houses, knowing that they actually do nothing but hurt the curb appeal and now I can say that by eliminating the radon, apparently I’m now increasing the homeowner’s risk of cancer. Interesting, isn’t it?
I’m Leading a Charge Against Radon Systems
I’m starting a movement to stop the ludicrosity of the EPA and radon companies who prey on buyers and sellers by saying NO to radon systems, one deal at a time. Sure, it will cost me buyers… but in the end, I can say I saved THOUSANDS of lives. Right??
Bottom Line: If something is a hazard, people have every right to want it mitigated. But when it comes to residential levels of radon, the studies show there are no hazards. The EPA clings to a casual correlation that there might be a connection to lung cancer based on uranium miners’ health problems. If a buyer has a problem with it, I will gladly show them this article and direct them to my sources.
To all you, agents, attorneys, buyers & sellers… don’t believe everything you hear or see on TV. Especially if it comes from lobbyist-run agencies.
Personally – I’m looking in to having the radon levels elevated in my own home, so I don’t have to buy another trip to Europe.
That is all.
US National Library of Medicine, “Radon Treatment Controversy”
Bio / Qualifications for Cohen: http://www.jborak.com/personnel/cohen.php
Bio for Coaimhim: http://www.forensic-applications.com/about_usby