In New Jersey, there is a particularly uranium-rich geological formation, called the Reading Prong, which stretches from Pennsylvania through northwestern New Jersey into Southern New York State. Testing of homes built along this geologic formation has revealed high indoor levels of radon gas. Further testing in New Jersey, beyond the Reading Prong area, has shown additional areas where homes have elevated radon levels. This has led the DEP to conclude that radon is a statewide health issue. All homeowners are encouraged to test and, if levels are elevated, residents are urged to consider remediation.
Radon can move easily through soil and tiny cracks in rock. When it reaches the surface of the soil, it disperses and is diluted to very low levels in the outdoor environment. However, when the gas moves upward through soil beneath a home, it may enter through cracks or other openings in the foundation and build up to unacceptable levels.
Slight differences between indoor and outdoor pressure can affect the rate at which radon enters the home. Reduced indoor pressure draws the gas through any cracks and openings. This lower indoor pressure may be caused by open windows on the downwind side of the house, operation of kitchen or exhaust fans, and the use of air by furnaces and other large appliances. The fact that air in a house is often warmer than the surrounding air and tends to rise can also cause reduced indoor pressure. Another means of entrance for the gas is water supplies, particularly underground wells. However, the levels in water supplies in New Jersey are usually not high enough to present a significant risk by themselves. Also, public water supplies usually undergo a great amount of agitation and aeration during treatment, which releases the radon gas before it reaches any residence.
The higher the levels of radon gas in a home, the greater the amount inhaled. Just as radon is produced from the decay of radioactive materials, it further decays producing new radioactive materials in the form of solids. These radon decay products can attach to other particles, such as dust and cigarette smoke, which can be inhaled and become trapped in the lungs where they emit radiation. These decay products can damage lung tissue and increase the risk of developing lung cancer. The risk of lung cancer from a given exposure to radon is greater for a smoker than a non-smoker.
Lung cancer is the only known health effect linked to radon exposure at this time. The EPA estimates that between 15,000 and 22,000 of the 125,000 annual deaths from lung cancer may be attributable to radon exposure. In New Jersey, of the annual 4,700 lung cancer deaths, as many as 140-250 may be associated with radon exposure. These estimates of cancer risk from radon exposure are less than those caused by smoking, but are far greater than the number of cancers estimated to occur as a result of exposure to other environmental hazards, such as toxic chemicals in drinking water or pesticide residues on food.
(State of NJ DEP)
For additional radon information provided by the New Jersey Department of Environment Protection, click the button below.
Copied directly from the NJDEP website:
Real Estate Transactions:
A single short-term radon test may be used for real estate transactions. An escrow account, with funds set aside by the seller, can be arranged for the buyer who prefers to test after closing. The funds can then be used to mitigate the home if testing reveals concentrations of 4 pCi/L or more.
If you are a potential homebuyer and are concerned about the possibility of test tampering, discuss anti-tampering methods with the radon measurement contractors you are considering hiring. Also, be sure to check that the contractor will close and pick up the test, as required by regulation. Neither the buyer, the homeowner nor the real estate agent can perform any part of the test, including: closing the test, picking it up, or sending it to a laboratory. If a homeowner is testing their home for themselves, they may do all or part of the test.
The Final Inspection is currently only using charcoal canisters (pictured above) for testing. All test are performed in accordance to the protocols and procedures set forth by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection.
What makes our test different?
Since all tests are supposed to follow the same standards, absolutely nothing. However we understand the importance of this test and try to minimize tampering with some basic methods. Additionally we inform the seller and realtors that the test is in progress and provide a set of instructions to follow while testing is in progress.
We make every attempt to discourage tampering since accurate results are needed. Unfortunately there is an additional charge for any required retesting and any discounts, promotions or other offers are excluded.
According to the EPA, “If you are planning any major structural renovation, such as converting an unfinished basement
area into living space, it is especially important to test the area for radon before you begin the renovation. If your test results indicate a radon problem, radon-resistant (often called radon ready new construction techniques) can be included as part of the renovation.
Test After Your Home Project
Even if you tested your home prior to your home improvement or remodel below the 4.0 pCi/L level at which the EPA recommends fixing, you will want to test again because the work done in your home might have changed factors that could affect radon levels.
Other renovations that may affect radon levels are new windows, siding, insulation and french drains.