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Radon Gas Facts For Nashville Homeowners And Homebuyers During Radon Action Month
by TJ Anderson
If you’ve never bought or sold a home in Nashville, you might not already be familiar with radon gas — it’s one of those topics that, while important, doesn’t tend to cross our everyday paths.
As a Nashville Realtor, I’ve met dozens upon dozens of people whose introduction to the topic of radon gas came when a home inspection was scheduled. I’ve also met dozens upon dozens of Nashville homeowners who, unbeknownst to them, had been living with high levels of radon gas for decades, and only found out when their home was under contract to sell, and a home inspector did a radon test.
At the start of the year, Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam proclaimed January 2019 “Radon Action Month,” in an effort to encourages residents from Chattanooga to Nashville to Memphis to be learn about radon gas, and the potential health risks that come along with it. So it felt like a logical time to point toward a few simple radon gas facts, to get you started, whether you’re thinking about buying a home in Nashville, or already own/rent and haven’t had the necessary radon primer yet.
Below, some quick facts about radon gas that I think you should know:
Radon gas exposure has been linked to cancer
The second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States, behind smoking: long-term exposure to radon, a naturally occurring radioactive gas. Radon exposure is also the leading cause of lung cancer among people who don’t smoke, according to EPA estimates.
“Radon gas breaks down into tiny radioactive elements that can lodge in the lining of the lungs, giving off radiation, which can damage lung cells and potentially lead to lung cancer.”
High radon gas levels are common in Tennessee homes
Unfun fact: One in five homes in Tennessee tests high for radon, according to the The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, putting us well above the national average (one out of every 15 homes).
In November, a full 30 percent of Tennessee radon gas test results came in higher than 4 pCi/L, the designated “action level” that indicates a need for radon mitigation. The highest test result in Tennessee that month was 45.4 pCi/L — which, in terms of danger to your lungs, compares to smoking more than four packs of cigarettes a day.
In the EPA radon zone map above, you can see that Davidson County, Williamson County and Rutherford County are all red, which designates them as Radon Zone 1 — counties with predicted average indoor radon screening levels greater than 4 pCi/L. That doesn’t mean that your Nashville home definitively has high radon levels. It just means that it’s not unlikely, and that testing is key to making sure you’re aware, and ready to take radon mitigation steps if necessary.
Your neighbor’s low radon levels won’t necessarily match yours, and vice versa
“Any home may have an elevated level of radon, even if other homes in the same neighborhood do not,” Kendra Abkowitz, assistant commissioner for the Office of Policy and Sustainable Practices, told Tennessee’s Johnson City Press. “Testing for radon in the home is the only way of knowing if radon is present.”
If you live in Nashville, you can get a free radon test kit
I strongly recommend that potential homebuyers in Nashville get a professional radon test done during a home inspection. If your home wasn’t tested during your buying process — maybe you’re renting, or you’ve been in the same place for decades — it’s more than worth getting a test done, and right now, home tests are available through the state of Tennessee for free.
Head to the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation website to request your free radon test kit — there’s a limit of one per household, and processing usually takes a month to six weeks.
If you’d like to learn more, stop by the Y
Feel like you want/need a better understanding of radon gas? The EPA has a Home Buyer’s and Seller’s Guide to Radon that you can download and read, with just about any info you could want (including radon gas testing tips). But if you respond better to in-person information, Tennessee is also partnering with fitness centers and health facilities across the state to help educate Tennesseans about radon, offering info and help. Here in Nashville, you can visit either of these YMCA locations:
— Downtown Nashville YMCA, 1000 Church St., Nashville
— Bellevue YMCA, 8101 Hwy. 100, Nashville
Hope this radon gas info was helpful — if you’re looking to buy or sell a home in Nashville, and have any questions about what the radon testing or remediation processes are like, I’m always more than happy to help. Call or email TJ Anderson Homes here.
TJ Anderson is a Nashville Realtor with Benchmark Realty who's helped countless clients both buy a home and sell a home in Nashville, Tennessee. He blogs about Nashville regularly, from Nashville-area....
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