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What is radon? Why care?

Evan Robinson April 29, 2017

Real Estate

What is radon? Why care?

Radon exists everywhere, but we have a higher incidence here in Portland.* The colorless, odorless gas is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States. It is generally harmless outdoors as it is widely dispersed, but it can accumulate in the closed spaces of buildings (especially basements) over time.

In light of this, it’s a good idea to have any home you’re looking at purchasing (as well as your current home) tested for this invisible, dangerous gas.

Test for radon in 3 steps

Testing for radon is a relatively inexpensive and simple process. It’s also commonplace within the real estate transaction; we recommend testing for virtually every property. While there are many radon testing companies, we trust and recommend the good people at Precision Radon Measurement to all of our clients. Give them a call to schedule an appointment and they’ll take care of the rest. The process takes a couple of days and you’ll get on-site results.

What if my home has high radon levels?

If your home has levels of radon accumulation over 4.0 pCi/L (picoCuries per liter), you’ll need to have a mitigation system installed. That basically means that there are about 9 atoms of radon decaying in one liter of air per minute. The layout of your home and the cause of accumulation (cracks in the foundation, gaps in construction joints, etc.) will determine the exact structure of the mitigation system. Contact a radon specialist such as Ecotech to set up a consultation. A specialist will consider the aesthetics of your home and create a system that will get rid of radon without being intrusive.

We can’t tell you exactly what an individual home’s mitigation system will look like, but there is a general recipe for removing radon.

  • Sealing of foundation cracks and openings.
  • A primary mitigation system involving a vent pipe system and fan.

Ecotech does a good job of making sure the mitigation system blends with the design of your house. They will also ensure that the system runs at maximum efficiency to keep energy costs low.

Radon facts and resources

Radon should be taken seriously, but it is a relatively inexpensive and easy threat to eliminate. Take a look below for some radon facts and links to resources.

  • Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the US aside from smoking (those who smoke have an increased risk of cancer when exposed).
  • One in every four houses in the Portland area accumulates radon.
  • Radon levels are higher in the winter, the best time to test.
  • Mitigation systems can reduce levels by 99%.
  • Though it is a radioactive gas, radon will probably not cause the zombie apocalypse.


New Data Shows Some Areas in Oregon Are At High Risk Of Elevated Radon Levels

Consumer’s Guide to Radon Reduction – Environmental Protection Agency

Radon Levels in Portland Area by Zipcode (a long-term study done at PSU)


Radon testing & mitigation services

Radon testing: Precision Radon Measurement

Radon mitigation system installation: Ecotech


* If you’re really curious about the how and why behind higher radon levels in the Portland area, feel free to dig into how the Missoula Floods shaped the Willamette Valley and left behind granite-infused sediment that is relatively high in uranium. Radon is a byproduct created by the breakdown of uranium. There’s your science lesson for today.

Curious about other aspects of Real Estate 101? CLICK HERE to get “eDREWcated”.

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