Frequently Asked Questions

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Q:  What is radon?

A:  Radon is a cancer-causing, radioactive gas. The Surgeon General has warned that radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer following cigarette smoking.

Q:  Who should test for radon?

A:  Everyone should test for radon.  It is a colorless, odorless gas so you won't know if you have elevated levels of radon unless you test for it.

Q:  What is causing the radon?

A:  Radon comes from the decay of uranium in the earth.

Q:  How much radon is considered harmful?

A:  The EPA has set a limit of 4 pico curies per liter of air (pCi/L).  The EPA recommends having the problem fixed if levels are above 4 pCi/L. A pico curie is a measure of radiation.

Q: How can I tell if I have an unsafe level of radon in my home?

A:  Radon is colorless, odorless, and tasteless. The only way to tell how much radon is in your home is to perform a radon test.

Q:  How do I test for radon?

A:  You may have a professional company test for you. Radonaire, Inc. is 1 of 6 state certified analytical laboratories in Erie County. We use electronic instrumentation which produces a digital printout showing the radon level every hour for a total of 2 days and 48 results. Our radon monitors undergo yearly testing at an independent laboratory in accordance with the EPA's strict guidelines. This ensures the most accurate readings. You may also perform a radon test yourself using a radon kit purchased at your local hardware store. Test kits may also be available through your local legislator.

Q:  If I have an unsafe level of radon, how do I fix it?

A:  The most standard technique to lower radon in your home is a process called a "sub slab depressurization system". This technique is used successfully in over 90% of the radon problems in the U.S.

Q:  What is a sub slab depressurization system?

A:  A sub slab depressurization system is simply the routing of a small (3' or 4") PVC pipe from your basement floor to the outside of the home. A small energy efficient fan (approximately 75 watts) is connected somewhere along the line to the PVC pipe and it sucks the gas out from underneath your basement floor 24 hours a day.

Q:  Are all homes fixable?

A:  A radon problem is easily fixable in over 95% of the homes in the U.S.

Q:  Where are the unsafe levels of radon located in the Western NY?

A:  The US Department of Health has performed thousands of radon tests in all 28 towns located in Erie County. 18 of the 28 towns have average radon levels over the safe government limit. While the remaining 10 towns have an average under the limit, many of the homes in each of those towns have radon levels over that limit.
As an example, while the average reading in Amherst is under 4 pCi/L, thousands of homes in that town are over that limit.

Q:  Should I ever consider buying a house with a radon problem?

A:  As previously stated, more than 95% of homes with high radon levels are easily fixable at a relatively low cost.

Q:  Who is responsible for fixing the radon problem in a home sale?

A:  This is decided between the buyer and seller but in the overwhelming majority of instances, it is the seller who pays for the installation of a radon mitigation system.

Q:  Are there any additional benefits to having a radon system installed in a home?

A:  Yes, there are numerous additional benefits besides removing the radon. A radon system will also act as an air purifier. It will remove other pollutants in the soil beneath the home such as pollen, dander, spores, mold, etc. Families suffering from allergies or asthma may benefit from a radon system. Radon abatement systems also remove large amounts of moisture from the soil and many homes may eventually be able to discontinue running a dehumidifier.