Pueblo, Colorado


Learn to be Right On with Radon

What if I told you that approximately 70% of all homes in Loveland and Larimer County have radon levels above acceptable levels, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)? What if I told you that indoor radon is the second-leading cause of lung cancer in the United States? To reduce your exposure to radon, would you live outdoors in a tent? I doubt it.

Radon is an invisible, odorless, radioactive gas created during the natural decay of uranium in our soil. The gas gets concentrated in basements, crawl spaces, and under slabs. Breathing radon over a prolonged period of time presents significant health risks to Lovelanders. The EPA has set a level of 4 pico Curies per Liter (pCi/L) of air as an acceptable maximum. Readings in the Loveland area range from 2 to 200 pCi/L. How did the EPA arrive at 4 pCi/L? The story goes that a high percentage of coal miners were dying from lung cancer and the radon readings in the mines were above 4 pCi/L. I wonder if they were also smokers and inhaled coal dust. Regardless, we have this benchmark and we must live (and die) with it.

If you want to check your radon, it’s easy to purchase a kit at a local building supply store or on the Internet. The City of Ft. Collins sells kits at the Senior Center and the Development Review Center. Kits are fairly inexpensive. You could also hire a local inspection service that will do a long-term test for approximately $100.00.

Since the test results will probably be problematic, there are some simple fixes that you could try. First, caulk any cracks in your basement or crawl space. Second, if you have a crawl space, you can put down a thick plastic sheet on the ground and run it up walls to the floor joists. You can also seal the bottom of the floor joists. Then you should retest your house. You would be surprised how these simple improvements will decrease your radon infiltration.

Our excessive radon has spawned a mini-industry of inspectors and radon-mitigation companies. Plumbing companies, construction companies, property inspection companies, and Realtors have enlarged their business models to assist the public with radon issues.

Since 2005, the City of Fort Collins has required that that all construction of single-family homes and duplexes be equipped with passive radon-reduction systems. The required system uses passive ventilation, plastic sheeting, and special caulking. The home buyers must be notified that a passive system was installed and that a radon test is highly recommended.

Fort Collins also requires that sellers of residential properties provide a City-generated brochure be given to each buyer prior to the execution of a contract to buy. As a Realtor, I’m authorized to provide this disclosure.

The City of Loveland has no construction and disclosure requirements.

Regardless of the jurisdiction, the success or failure of residential real estate transactions depends on how the buyer and seller react to the issue of radon. Section 10 of our Contract to Buy and Sell Real Estate gives the buyer the right to examine the Seller’s Property Disclosure Statement and the right to examine the property. A radon test is typically part of an inspection. A high radon score can cause the buyer to terminate the contract, accept the results and still buy the property, or ask the seller to assist in mitigation costs. If the property is bank-owned or a short sale, the buyer will not likely get any concession.

Realtors are smack-dab in the middle between the buyer and seller. We are experienced in handling radon issues and can direct buyers and sellers to local radon experts. Radon should never be treated lightly. Until you reach your comfort level, keep learning about this deadly gas.