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What is a Radon Inspection?

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  • Written By: M. McGee
  • Edited By: Lauren Fritsky
  • Last Modified Date: 10 June 2018
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2018
    Conjecture Corporation
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A radon inspection is an examination of an area to determine the presence of radon gas. Most of the time, a true radon inspection is only done before a commercial building is constructed. After that, a building’s owner does the majority of radon testing whenever he desires. Some areas do require a periodic radon inspection for commercial properties, but this is very rare. Self-testing kits for radon gas are typically very easy to use and are almost always free.

Radon is an odorless, colorless and radioactive gas that comes from the natural decay of uranium. This gas is present nearly everywhere on the planet in varying concentrations. In fact, radon constitutes the largest source of earthbound radiation that a typical person is exposed to throughout his life. Radon is an element, like oxygen or nitrogen, but is much larger and heavier than other gases in the atmosphere. The gas has been linked to lung cancer and other health concerns.

Since the gas is so heavy, it tends to pool inside enclosed areas like buildings and caves. Radon will sink due to its weight, so basements are common locations in which to find the gas. Since it is such a large gas, it has trouble escaping through cracks that other atmospheric gasses may use, so it also pools in non-ventilated areas like attics and crawlspaces.

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Many cities require a radon inspection before a building is constructed. These inspections use a device that actually measures the amount of radon in the air at any given time. Often, an inspector will take readings periodically over a few days to a week to offset any random environmental factors. This form of radon inspection is very accurate, but is typically only done once.

Homeowners may hire an inspector or send away for a radon detection kit. These kits are basically air filters that the homeowner hangs up in the house for a specified amount of time. After the time is up, the filter is sent to a lab to determine the amount and type of gasses present in the room. Some kits allow owners to test the filter themselves, but these tests are often less accurate.

As a result of its radioactivity and its link to lung cancer, every building should generally have its radon levels checked periodically. The gas has very strange properties due to its size and weight; as a result, one house may be full of radon, while its neighbors all have very little. Even if a building has radon present, it is generally possible to remove it with small changes to ventilation and special types of sealant.

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