Although it’s not often the first factor considered by multifamily building owners and managers, knowing the radon levels in a dwelling is an important health consideration for all residents. Radon gas is the #1 leading cause of lung cancer in nonsmokers and the 2nd cause of lung cancer.
Radon is a radioactive gas that forms when the uranium in natural stone in the earth below a building decays. That gas decays into “radon progeny,” which are harmful radioactive metal atoms that get caught in our respiratory tracts when we inhale. Over time this causes lung cancer. The amount of radioactive gas found in indoor air can vary depending upon structural deficiencies, ventilation, and the geography of the surrounding area. It is also influenced by the weather outside. Because radon gas is both odorless and invisible, a test is the only way to detect it.
Testing for Radon
If you are a homeowner, especially in a detached single-family home, testing for radon is your responsibility and is recommended every two years to ensure healthy levels. Equally, testing for radon may not be something in the forefront of the minds of those who rent or own a unit in a larger multifamily structure, but it should be.
Why should renters test for radon?
The American Housing Survey and U.S. Census Bureau approximate that as of 2019, almost 44 million residences in the United States are considered multifamily. That means 31.4% of all households in the country are apartments, condos, townhomes, and mixed-use structures. When residing in multifamily housing, making sure that the owner or operator of the property has tested for radon recently is of the utmost importance. Testing is the first step in creating a healthy dwelling for everyone living in multifamily housing.
Renters are within their rights to ask the property owner if radon testing has been completed and ask for a copy of the results. Radon testing must be completed by a certified radon professional. This ensures that the newest and best practices are being deployed to lower the levels of radon, especially, when considering the scale and complexity of the foundations of multifamily buildings.
If the building has not been sufficiently tested, residents can test themselves or request that the owner test. It is critical that as many dwellings as possible on the bottom three floors of multifamily buildings be tested. Do not rely on radon test results of a home next door or a neighboring apartment. Radon can fluctuate wildly from one residence and one apartment to another.
How difficult is it to test for radon in my apartment?
As a renter, you will have very little inconvenience when a radon test is being conducted in your dwelling. Typically, the property management will place a small radon test kit in a relatively out-of-the-way location within your main living area. The test will remain there until the kit is retrieved. The duration of the test is usually less than a week but can vary depending on the type of test being deployed by the property manager.
While the test is being performed you will be asked to leave doors and windows shut, other than for normal entering and exiting. You may be asked to leave the fireplace off, limit ceiling fan usage, and not run other fans in your apartment until the test kit is removed. You will also be asked to not touch or move the test kit.
What if my apartment building has elevated radon levels?
In the event of elevated radon levels being detected in a multifamily building, most states require owners to keep their properties safe, fit, and habitable. High radon levels would violate this guideline and make it unsafe for occupation. Discussing results with the owner of the building and beginning the dialogue about resolving the radon problem is the biggest step. If there is no action on the part of the building management or owner once they are made aware of elevated radon levels, the state radon office can provide information, resources, and contacts for the residents, or the building owners.
Radonova is the laboratory of choice for numerous government radon surveys, as well as other public, and private sector large-scale measurement contracts around the world. A truly global laboratory, Radonova is active in over 50 countries and has performed millions of measurements.
For more information about radon and radon measurement visit: https://radonova.com/