Lexwin Realty LLC

Greater Boston Real Estate Company   (781) 367-8522   info@lex-win.com


Effects of radon gas hazards on real estate values & home sales

Due to public fear of potential radon gas poisoning, we believe that there are thousands of radon mitigation systems installed in homes in which the annual risk of radon gas exposure is far lower than the 4pCi/L levels at which the U.S. EPA recommends “further testing.”

It’s largely speculated that the installation of excessive numbers of radon mitigation systems is the unforeseen consequence of a seemingly obscure employee relocation benefit implemented by U.S. corporations. You see, when corporations require employees to relocate for business purposes, the corporation will assume ownership of the home of the employee if it can’t be sold prior to the relocation date. This was done so the employee wouldn’t have to incur the financial risk of supporting two residences simultaneously.

To avoid any unforeseen risk of quickly selling the employee’s home, corporations would routinely instruct relocation companies to install radon mitigation equipment in the home as a precaution. Consequently, many homes have the equipment that don’t really need it.

As a practical matter, the EPA’s radon studies indicate that the risk of developing lung cancer from radon gas exposure at levels of 4 pCi/L and below was largely no riskier than developing lung cancer through random chance among the general population unless the duration of exposure exceeded 18 hours a day for 70 years. Thus, it’s determined that the risk is practically zero.

Cigarette smokers have a significantly higher risk of developing lung cancer from radon gas exposure than non-smokers. In fact, the risk to smokers is about eight times higher for the same level of exposure as a non-smoker. In addition, the risk of developing cancer due to radon gas exposure increases measurably as radon levels increase.

Radon is a radioactive gas and when it’s inhaled the particles become lodged in the deep recesses of the lungs where it can’t be easily expelled by the body. As part of its atomic decaying process, radon fires off electrons, and if those electrons hit a DNA strand in the lung it can damage the cellular structure and create a precancerous condition that can ultimately develop into lung cancer.

Many consumers who are considering purchasing a home are initially frightened when they notice that a radon mitigation system has been installed. They believe that the home was or could be dangerous even though the chances are high that the system was installed as a precautionary measure and that the home doesn’t even meet the minimum EPA threshold for radon gas exposure to even be concerned.

But in cases where a radon gas mitigation system is necessary, installation is relatively straightforward and simple. The first step is to seal the basement floor with caulk where the foundation wall and floor meet. Then utilizing a sump pit, the installer drills a hole through the foundation slab and seals the sump pit after installing a PVC vent pipe that’s routed to the exterior of the house and up the wall to a point slightly above the roof line. A low amperage in-line fan that runs night and day is attached to the pipe and it depressurizes the sump pit area beneath the slab, intercepting the radon gas and venting it into the atmosphere.

Installing a radon gas mitigation system should not have an adverse impact on a homes resale value since once detected, radon gas is easily controlled. There’s no reason not to buy an otherwise acceptable home once the mitigation system is in place.