Everyone who will be living in a given home should be conscious of radon levels and mitigation if these levels are too high, but one group that may have a bit of a tougher time here is renters. Radon tests and inspections are often carried out by homeowners themselves and aren’t generally part of typical rental lease agreements — but it’s still very important that renters know the radon content in the home they’re moving into, as many homes in Colorado have levels of radon that are far higher than is safe for human health.
At Absolute Radon Safety, we’re happy to offer a wide variety of radon testing and radon mitigation services, including to clients who are renting and want an idea of their home’s radon levels. What steps should you be taking if you want a radon test in a rental, and what do important bodies like the EPA say about the approach you should take here? Let’s go over this plus some important info on what qualifies as too high a radon level in a rented property.
EPA Radon Checklist
The EPA, or Environmental Protection Agency, maintains a comprehensive list of areas you should be considering with regard to radon if you’re a renter of any home or property. Here are some of the most important items on this list:
- Find out whether your building has been tested for radon in the recent past
- If the building has not been tested, send a letter to the owner advising him or her of the dangers of radon, and provide a link to an EPA training program that educates on these dangers.
- Get your landlord’s permission for any radon testing you do, as results might not be permissible down the line otherwise.
- If results are even slightly elevated, get your landlord’s permission and hire a qualified contractor to make all repairs necessary to lower radon levels.
- If your building is getting its water from a well, be aware that any nearby land may also have high radon levels. Be sure to use a test kit for locations near the well as well as at the source itself to rule out significant higher than normal concentrations of this colorless, odorless gas.
Responsibility for Radon Mitigation
In nearly every case where radon levels in your rented property are too high, it will be the responsibility of the landlord or property manager to fix the issue by hiring a qualified contractor to conduct mitigation. The EPA maintains that radon levels can be lowered in around 90% of cases if the right mitigation techniques are employed, and this is something you should be asking your landlord about immediately if such issues arise.
If you’re already under lease with a landlord or rental company, you can use the terms of this lease to extract permission for mitigation as long as you aren’t breaching any part of the agreement. And even in situations where a landlord is not required to mitigate due to your lease, he or she might be willing to partner with you on have radon levels checked and fixed if they’re deemed to be too high.
What’s Too Much Radon?
If you’re performing an at-home radon test, the general threshold indicating too high a radon quantity is 4.0 pCi/L. This level of radon poses lung cancer risks at the same level as someone who smokes eight cigarettes every single day, or the equivalent of 200 chest X-rays every single year.
If your home test results come in at 4.0 pCi/L or above, you should immediately talk with your landlord about having mitigation performed by a qualified contractor. If this isn’t possible and your lease is up for renewal soon, it might be time to consider moving into a home that has lower radon levels, as the elevated risk posed at these levels can be quite dangerous. And if you haven’t yet signed a lease, plus the landlord doesn’t signal a willingness to mitigate before you do so, you should look elsewhere for a rental property.
Value of Professional Radon Testing
While at-home radon tests may do well enough for certain basic testing needs, those who want a truer idea of radon levels in their rental should consider using a professional service to conduct testing. Some reasons why this is so can include the following:
- Landlord cooperation: Some landlords try to hide behind inconclusive tests or other confusing information to avoid paying for radon mitigation. If you have test results from a professional, that kind of evasion is much harder to pull off.
- Confirmation: A professional service can easily tell you if your building has radon issues, which some at-home testers may have problems doing accurately.
- Testing protocol: Professionals are going to use EPA protocol for testing pools and spas, ensuring standardized results. If there’s any question about the efficacy of your testing, this is a surefire way to remove that doubt.
- Professional testing companies can also tell you whether your levels are elevated beyond safe standards, and take action on your behalf if they are. As most rental contracts include a provision for potential radon mitigation, it’s important that you let professionals do their job and simply deliver the results rather than trying to get involved in testing protocol yourself.
For more on radon testing in rental properties and why it’s so important, or to learn about any of our radon testing or radon mitigation solutions, speak to the staff at Absolute Radon Safety today.