Radon Mitigation for Tenants

Radon is a radioactive gas that's found in rock and soil in many parts of US. It's formed by decay of uranium. The gas is invisible and has no taste or odor. Radon might be easily found in all types of buildings and homes in the US, especially in Pennsylvania. The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection estimates that 40% of homes in the state contain unsafe levels of radon gas. If there's radon gas present in the ground, the gas can seep into a building. Radon moves up into homes via cracks, drains, or any openings present in the foundation.

Since you can't see, taste or smell radon, testing is the only way of determining the radon levels in your apartment. Ask the landlord or property manager if the apartment units have been fully tested for radon gas. If the landlord tells you that testing for radon gas has been completed, you should ask for copy of test results. In case you have any questions pertaining to the results, you may call the state radon office and ask for help.

You may decide to test for radon gas yourself or you can hire a qualified professional to test the apartment for radon. Testing for radon gas is easy, and takes little time. In order to test for radon gas yourself, you should purchase radon test kit. Do it yourself radon test kits are readily available at home stores or from a radon mitigation services professional. The price of the kit will vary depending on whether the analysis is included in the cost of the kit.

Radon mitigation is the process used in order to remove or reduce the radon gas concentration in occupied buildings water supplies. The mitigation of radon gas in the air can be accomplished by subsoil depressurization. This process involves collecting radon contaminated air from below the building foundation before it enters the structure. Radon mitigation requires the building be modified by a certified professional so this type of work would be contracted by the landlord or property manager, not the tenant.

If a radon test performed in a rental unit returns a high result, inform the landlord in writing. In many states, landlords are required to keep their buildings habitable; fit and safe for tenants. You may give the landlord copy of the test results and then discuss steps he/she plans on taking to fix the issue. The landlord will probably want to carry out additional radon gas testing in the building(s) to confirm your findings. You should ask for the copies of any follow-up test results. If you live in a multi-unit dwelling, you may share your test results and information about radon health risks and mitigation with the other residents. Your neighbors might wish to do some tests on their units or want to discuss the issue further with the landlord. (Even if your own radon tests showed some low radon gas levels, there might be high radon gas levels in some other parts of your building).

In case the landlord doesn't address the issue at hand, you seek advice and information from the state Department of Environmental Protection radon division. Your local state radon offices can give you and the landlord more specific information and advice regarding the testing and fixing of the radon problems. Generally speaking, you should give notice to the landlord that the radon levels are high, and that you are requesting it be fixed. Provide this notice with proof of delivery (such as Certified Mail). If the landlord does not fix the issue, you will then have proof of sending the notice if you decide it is necessary to move out for health reasons or have to take legal action.

There are some local community organizations can help you find ways of fixing the radon problem. In terms of legal advice, you may contact a local bar association and ask for help. For limited income tenants, you can contact your nearest legal service offices and check if free legal service is available.

Successful Radon Mitigation Requires a Certified Professional
High radon levels can be successfully reduced by making modifications to a building. The correct system is dictated by the size, age and design of the building and the radon level detected. The state radon offices may provide the general information on the methods used to mitigate radon. Also, EPA's Consumers' Guide to Radon Mitigation is an easy and quick way of learning more about all the different ways of fixing radon problems.

Radon mitigation will require a trained professional for proper design and installation. Your state radon offices can easily provide you with a list of professionals who have completed the national or state programs.

Funds Available for Radon Mitigation
There are certain federal programs which may be used in order to help fund radon mitigation in homes/apartments which are available to limited income families. The programs normally give money to groups or/and the local agencies, who then fund the radon reduction work. Some of them include:

-Community Development Block Grants (abbreviated as CDBG) program; They fund repairs and rehabilitation of affordable housing.

-203k program; they fund repairs and rehabilitation of the single family homes.

-Environmental Justice Grant; They fund community based organizations, and the tribal governments addressing various environmental concerns, and issues of low income communities and minorities.

-The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection offer programs and assistance providing low interest loans for radon mitigation in the limited income housing.

About the Author

Katherine Fisher is the co-owner and Vice President of SWAT Environmental of Pennsylvania. She holds a Bachelors degree from Purdue University in Environmental Sciences and is NRPP certified in radon measurement and radon mitigation.

To purchase a radon test kit or to get a free quote on radon mitigation for your home, contact the experts at SWAT Environmental of Pennsylvania at 1-800-NO-RADON.

Our highly trained professional staff is here to provide you and your customers with the best in radon mitigation services, including:

on 23 July 2015
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