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You are here: Home » Resources » Articles » Slipping Through The Cracks—Is There Radon In Your Building?

November 30, 2016

Slipping Through The Cracks—Is There Radon In Your Building?

By Partner ESI


The due diligence process of a real estate transaction contains many elements, with those of environmental concern sometimes being the most important. The safety and compliance of your site can have a huge impact on the success and cost of the transaction. While there are a variety of industrial hygiene concerns to test for including asbestos, lead, mold, etc., one that may not generally be considered mandatory is radon testing. But with some states adopting more stringent rules, it may become a requirement as part of your due diligence.

What is radon?

Radon, in the simplest terms, is a naturally occurring radioactive gas that can cause lung cancer when exposure to high levels occurs over an extended period of time. It is odorless, colorless, and cannot be detected by the human eye but can be present in any type of building. As a gas, radon is capable of penetrating many surfaces, including mortar and concrete. Radon is the number one cause of lung cancer among individuals who have never smoked and the second leading cause of lung cancer overall. In any commercial real estate transaction, it is paramount to mitigate any deal breaking risks, and radon may fall into that category. Testing is the only way to know if a building has elevated radon.

Where should I be concerned about Radon?

The US EPA has prepared a map to help identify high-risk radon areas, which divides the country into three Radon Zones, Zone 1 being predicted to have higher levels of indoor radon concentrations (on average), and Zone 3 being predicted to have lower levels of indoor radon concentrations (on average). This map is helpful in screening for higher risk areas and many lenders and owners use it to determine whether to do any radon testing. However, indoor radon levels are affected by soil composition under and around the home, and the pathways through which radon and other soil gas may enter the home. Buildings that are next door to each other can have different indoor radon levels, making a localized measurements a better predictor of radon risk than the map alone.

Continue reading the GlobeSt blog here.

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