Do I need to do Radon Testing When Buying a House?

In most places radon testing is not part of a professional home inspection. If you want it done, you have to pay separately for that type of inspection. And, to be honest, in the 8 years that I have been doing real estate in the Central Savannah River Area, I have never had a single client do radon testing. In other areas of the country,on the other hand, it is part of every transaction. When I recently helped my mother-in-law sell her house in Cape Cod, Massachusetts, I learned that radon testing is done there as a matter of course.

The truth about radon is that it is not harmful outside as it is a gas that forms in nature when naturally occurring uranium in granite bedrock decays into radium, which further decays into this colorless, odorless gas. Inside, however, it can build up to damaging levels. Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the US. Only tobacco smoking tops it. 21,000 deaths a year are caused by radon.

Radon enters homes through crevices and cracks in the foundation. Houses with basements are especially susceptible to higher levels of radon. The EPA considers anything above 4 pCi/L unacceptable and encourages that homes with levels higher than this be mitigated. Look at the Georgia map below to see radon levels per county in the state of Georgia. The northern part of the state is considered to have moderate to high radon risk.

To find out the level of radon in your house, you can have it tested by a professional or you can contact UGA Cooperative Extension (706-583-0602) to get a testing kit for $13.