RADON IN REAL ESTATE TRANSACTIONS

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1 RADON IN REAL ESTATE TRANSACTIONS 2013

2 Overview Radon Basics Radon Entry Radon Testing Radon Mitigation Radon Disclosure

3 Radon Basics

4 Radon Radon is colorless, tasteless and odorless ionizing gas Radon comes from radioactive breakdown (decay) of uranium in soil and rock. Radon is a cancer-causing, radioactive gas that can be found in all homes. Minnesota has especially high indoor radon levels Leading cause of lung cancer for non-smokers Lung Cancer is the deadliest and most preventable cancer

5 What Level of Radon is Considered Safe? There is no known safe level of radon World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that all homes be below: 2.7 pci/l health based standard Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends that all homes be below: 2 pci/l pseudo health based standard 4 pci/l based on mitigation technology (action level)

6 Where Can Radon Be Found? Soil Major source Water Groundwater Surface waters Air Ambient Indoor

7 Minnesota Radon Potential Entire state is high or moderate potential Red: average > 4 pci/l Yellow: average 2-4 pci/l

8 Health Effects Of Radon Second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States Estimated to cause 21,000 deaths annually* MN 800-1,000 Second only to smoking Leading cause of lung cancer for non-smokers * EPA Assessment of Risks from Radon in Homes (June 2003, EPA -402-R )

9 Chances Of Developing Cancer Due To Radon Depend On: The levels of radon in the home The amount of time spent in the home Whether or not a person is, or ever was a smoker

10 Radon Entry

11 Radon Pathways (page 4-5) A. Cracks in concrete slabs. B. Spaces behind brick veneer walls that rest on uncapped hollow-block foundations. C. Pores and cracks in concrete blocks. D. Floor-wall joints (cold joints). E. Exposed soil, as in a sump or crawl space. F. Weeping (drain) tile, if drained to an open sump. G. Mortar joints. H. Loose fitting pipe penetrations. I. Open tops of block walls. J. Building materials, such as brick, concrete, rock. K. Well water (not commonly a major source in Minnesota homes).

12 Foundation Type All homes can have radon concerns Slab-on-Grade and Basements Entry through floor joints, cracks, plumbing penetrations. Crawl-Space Entry from large soil area and drawn into living space. Mobile Homes If well skirted, they act like crawl spaces.

13 Air Pressure is Driving Force Stack Effect: As warm air leaves the top of the house, air comes in the bottom of the house Down Wind Draft Effect: Wind flowing over the top of a house creates the same effect as the stack effect Vacuum Effect: Air mechanically exhausted from the house is replaced from other pathways

14 Water Aeration The aeration of water can cause some radium to come out of the water, which could cause an elevated radon level. Usual conversion factor is 10,000 pci/l in water turns into 1 pci/l in air.

15 Radon Testing

16 Radon Testing Devices Short-term tests measure radon levels for 2 to 7 days, or use a continuous monitor for a minimum of 48 hours. Long-term tests determine the average radon concentration for a minimum of 90 days.

17 Charcoal Use activate charcoal to absorbs the surrounding air. Lab analyzes the charcoal for radiation content. Cheap and Quick results. Accurate reflection of only the time or season tested. Does not estimate the annual radon level which is how radon risk is calculated.

18 Continuous Radon Monitor Uses electronic sensors to count the number of disintegrations per minute. Alpha flashes are averaged over entire period. Better indicator of radon level due to hourly averages show the range or radon levels.

19 Alpha Track Uses a material to collect the damage created by the alpha particles colliding with that testing material. A year long test accurately estimates the radon risk.

20 Average Radon Levels EPA states any home 4.0 pci/l or higher be fixed Not health based Outdoor- 0.4 pci/l* May be higher in some areas of Minnesota Indoor- 1.3 pci/l* Minnesota: 2 in 5 homes are over 4.0 *estimated national averages

21 Where Should A Test Be Conducted- Real Estate? On the lowest livable level May require interpretation Ultimately comes down to buyer s opinion Relocation companies may decide to test the lowest level that could be used by the buyer NOT in kitchens or bathrooms high humidity Away from drafts Away from high heat appliances fireplaces direct sunlight

22 When Should You Test? It is better to test between October and April (the heating season) because homes are sealed up You can test anytime during the year, but you are more likely to get the maximum levels during the heating season Long-term tests should be conducted during at least part of heating season.

23 What If Your Neighbor Has Tested And Found Low Levels? Radon levels are dependent upon several factors Your neighbor may find low levels but your home could still have high levels of radon Don t depend upon your neighbor s test Every home should be tested

24 Testing Procedures: Real Estate Transactions 3 types of real estate tests (short-term) Sequential testing Simultaneous testing Continuous Radon Monitor (CRM) or Continuous Working Level Monitor (CW) Professionally conducted See MDH Measurement Service Providers fact sheet

25 Sequential testing One short-term test conducted According to EPA protocols 48 hour test Sent in to lab for analysis An immediate follow-up test conducted According to EPA protocols 48 hour test Sent to lab for analysis Average two tests to get radon level

26 Simultaneous testing 2 short-term tests placed side by side Four inches apart According to EPA protocols 48 hour minimum duration Sent in for lab analysis

27 Simultaneous & Sequential Testing: Interpretation of Results If average is < 4.0 pci/l (or what buyer requests) then simply disclose and move on If average is 4.0 pci/l (or what buyer requests) then mitigate No requirement for both test to be the same Some difference is expected due to variation of radon levels Report each result and the average of both tests.

28 Continuous Radon Monitor Testing Sophisticated electronic devices Must integrate and record hourly or more frequently First 4 hours may be discarded, but remaining 44 hours can be used Professional conducted 48 hour minimum One single test

29 Continuous Radon Monitor Testing Must be able to print out to paper or computer Helps detect abnormal radon swings Built in motion detectors can determine if device was moved May record pressure, temperature and proximity Help determine tampering Specialty tape on exterior doors and windows

30 Radon Mitigation

31 (page 15)

32 Can t We Just Seal The Cracks? Radon can enter through very small openings. Without affecting house pressures, sealing is not a stand-alone technique.

33 Active Soil Depressurization 2 Primary mitigation method A PVC pipe is routed under the foundation of the home. Fan pulls air out from soil Contact a NRPP or NRSB certified radon contractor

34 Types of Mitigation 2 Sub-slab Drain tile Sump pit Sub-membrane (crawl space)

35 Mitigation Process 3 Walk-though and Designing the System

36 System Design 3 Designed and installed to: Be a permanent and integral part of home Avoid the creation of other health, safety or environmental hazards. Backdrafting/spillage of combustion appliances Blocking exits with pipe runs Degrading fire rated assemblies

37 Mitigation Process 3 Things to Consider: Are they listed with MDH, if not why? Are they certified, if not why? Do they offer a guarantee to below action level, if not why?

38 Mitigation Process 6 Diagnostics to ensure a successful system

39 Mitigation Process 7 Sealing Gaps and Cracks

40 Mitigation Process 7 Seal the crawlspace

41 Mitigation Process 8 Drill a hole and dig out a bucket sized hole

42 Mitigation Process 8 Pipe Routing

43 Mitigation Process 8 Run pipe up through the roof or up outside the home.

44 Mitigation Process 8 Fan located in an unconditioned space

45 Mitigation Process 8 Electrical Wiring (licensed electrician)

46 Mitigation Process 8 Performance indicators. Non-Working System Working System

47 Documentation 9 Upon completion of project, contractor will provide: Copies of contracts and warranties Description of system and operating procedures Description of proper operating procedures of any mechanical or electrical systems installed, including manufacturer's operation and maintenance instructions A list of appropriate actions for clients to take if the system failure warning device indicates system degradation or failure The name, address, and phone number of the contractor

48 Post-mitigation Procedures 10 After you mitigate, you should test your home to determine if the mitigation is working (24 hours to 30 days after mitigation) You should retest your home once every 2 years or so If you do any remodeling, or if you start to occupy the basement of your home, test again for radon

49 Radon Disclosures

50 Radon Awareness Act Effective January 1, 2014 Before the seller signs a purchase agreement they must do the following: (1) Disclosure of radon information: have there been radon tests on the property describe radon concentrations & provide reports provide information on any mitigation system installed provide a radon warning statement (2) Provide the document Radon in Real Estate Transaction

51 Radon Warning Statement The Minnesota Department of Health strongly recommends that ALL homebuyers have an indoor radon test performed prior to purchase or taking occupancy, and recommends having the radon levels mitigated if elevated radon concentrations are found. Elevated radon concentrations can easily be reduced by a qualified, certified, or licensed, if applicable, radon mitigator. Every buyer of any interest in residential real property is notified that the property may present exposure to dangerous levels of indoor radon gas that may place the occupants at risk of developing radon-induced lung cancer. Radon, a Class A human carcinogen, is the leading cause of lung cancer in nonsmokers and the second leading cause overall. The seller of any interest in residential real property is required to provide the buyer with any information on radon test results of the dwelling."

52 Radon in Real Estate Transactions Publication The publication can be downloaded from:

53 Contacts For More Information MDH - Indoor Air Unit or PO Box St. Paul, MN U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

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