Builder's Focus: Radon: A Silent Killer

2013-08-23T11:55:00Z 2013-08-23T13:42:27Z Builder's Focus: Radon: A Silent KillerMichelle Krueger Times Correspondent nwitimes.com
August 23, 2013 11:55 am  • 

More than 35 percent of homes tested in Porter County and more than 15 percent of homes in tested in Lake County had elevated levels of radon gas (4.0 pCi/l or more), according to a local home inspection company.

Phil Borkstrom and family have owned and operated Schererville-based Home Inspector Consultants for the last two decades, specializing in residential and commercial radon testing.

“The amount of residential radon testing we perform each year increases as people become more and more aware of its presence in homes,” Borkstrom said. “It's still not where it should be because we feel if everyone was aware of radon then every house, school and commercial building would be tested.”

The US EPA and Surgeon General share the same opinion on radon testing, and it's easy to understand why.

An estimated 21,000 deaths per year are attributed to radon compared with 17,400 from drunk driving, 10,000 from asbestos exposure, 8,000 from falls in the home, 3,900 from drowning, 2,800 from home fires and 500 from carbon monoxide poisoning. While we often hear safety precautions through many well-publicized prevention programs for other potentially fatal situations, many people are not familiar with the facts on radon.

For starters, you can't see it. You can't smell it or taste it.

A cancer-causing, radioactive gas found throughout the United State, radon is produced from the natural radioactive breakdown of uranium in soil, rock and water. It winds up in the air we breathe and tends to accumulate in enclosed spaces like our homes. It can enter through cracks and openings in floors and walls that are in direct contact with the ground.

“The Surgeon General has warned that radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States today. Only smoking causes more lung cancer deaths, Borkstrom, who has conducted more than 10,000 home inspections said, “Many of my client's are diagnosed with lung cancer and never smoked a day in their life. It's truly heartbreaking when it turns out radon was the cause. Most people are at the greatest risk for radon exposure at home, since that’s where they spend the most time. Any home can have a radon problem - new and old homes, well-sealed and drafty homes, homes with or without basements.”

According to the EPA, nearly 1 out of every 10 homes in the US is estimated to have an elevated radon level (4 pCi/l or more). In northwest Indiana the predicted average indoor radon screening level is moderate, between 2 and 4 pCi/l. The highest average radon levels - anything greater than 4 pCi/l - have been found in neighboring counties and many other areas throughout the state.

“Testing is the only way to know if you and your family are at risk from radon, and the EPA and Surgeon General recommend testing all homes for radon,” Borkstrom said. “The biggest hurdle right now is alerting people to the potential dangers of radon in indoor air. Nationwide media campaigns for silent killers like asbestos, lead paint and carbon monoxide have made many people aware of their dangers. Radon also needs to be recognized as a serious silent killer. The number of deaths associated with radon are higher than house fires, asbestos and carbon monoxide poisoning combined. People need to be informed so they can prevent potential health problems and even deaths.”

Contact Phil Borkstrom at 219-322-7403 or Philip@Borkstrom.com to schedule a radon test. You can also visit www.HomeInspectorConsultants.com or www.EPA.gov/Radon for more information.

Sidebar:

Radon and Real Estate Transactions:

If You Are Selling a House . . .

The EPA recommends testing your house before putting it on the market and, if necessary, lowering radon levels. Save the test results and any information about steps that were taken to fix any problems. This could be a positive selling point.

If You Are Buying a House . . .

The EPA recommends that you know the indoor radon level of any house before writing an offer. Ask the seller for their radon test results, and if the house has a radon-reduction system, ask for information about it. If the house has not yet been tested, have it tested. If you are having a new house built, incorporate features that reduce radon levels during the construction process.

Home Inspector Consultants can answer questions and address any concerns about radon or any other hazards in your home, especially if you are buying or selling, their services include:

• Home Inspection

• Termite (WDI) Inspection

• Mold Inspection & Testing

• Radon Testing

• Well & Septic Inspection

• Water Testing

• Lead & Asbestos Testing

• Thermal Imaging & Home Energy Evaluations

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