Radon is not just a homowner's issue.I have been away from my radon blog for the last few weeks as I have been working in the field on a large radon mitigation project. This project is a townhouse style, low-income apartment complex. While working on this project I spent some time thinking about how great it is that the management company who hired us is taking action to protect their tenants from the dangers of radon gas.
I don’t know the details of why they decided to test for radon gas. The laws do not require landlords to test their properties for radon in Utah. No matter the circumstances that lead to finding elevated radon levels in these units, this management company is doing the right thing by taking action to reduce radon exposure in this property.
Renters, unlike homeowners don’t typically go through a due diligence period before signing a lease. home buyers enjoy the benefit of disclosures, home inspections, optional radon testing or other environmental testing before they buy the home. Renters typically just sign a lease and are unaware of the potential problems that may exist in their apartment or rental house. If a homeowner detects elevated radon levels it is their choice to proceed with radon mitigation. If a renter detects radon in their home they may have to jump through hoops to get the management company or landlord to correct the problem.
Illinois recently passed a law (420 ILCS 46/25) that requires disclosure of Illinois radon hazards to current and prospective tenants. This is a great move to protect the citizens of Illinois from the dangers of radon gas. According to a recent radon awareness survey in Colorado, radon awareness increases with income and age. Many low-income and young citizens live in rental properties and may not know that they may be exposed to dangerous levels of radon.
As we were installing the radon mitigation systems in these apartments many of the tenants would ask us, “What is radon gas?” One person even asked us if radon gas comes from “leaky pipes in the air-conditioning unit,” I clarified that radon comes naturally from the soil below the building and that they may be thinking of Freon in an air conditioner. These tenants, without the good deeds of their landlord may have continued to be exposed to radon throughout the duration of living in these homes and never have known.
It is time that states become proactive to protect their citizens from the dangers of radioactive radon gas. Like Illinois, other states should take action to mandate radon disclosure in rental properties. If you are a landlord, consider testing for radon gas in your property. A test can be performed inexpensively and radon mitigation will not break the bank in comparison to other property repairs. If you are a developer, consider building your buildings using radon resistant new construction techniques. If you are a homeowner who rents the basement, consider the fact that radon levels tend to be greater in the lowest livable area of the home. If you are a renter, buy a do-it-yourself radon test and see if you are living with high radon levels. A simple radon test and the installation of a permanent radon mitigation system can potentially save lives. This is not only a moral issue but it can possibly be a liability issue.