While a positive test for radon has to be disclosed if you sell your home, more homebuyers are requesting a test beforehand in areas they know are hotspots.
But testing and mitigating for radon if it’s too high can be a marketing plus for homesellers, officials said on Wednesday.
Certified radon mitigator Norm Denny said that fixing a high test in a home with a crawl space averages about $3,800, though he’s seen homes that cost quite a bit more.
“Our homes suck,” he said to a crowd of about 30 Carson Valley residents at the CVIC Hall.
Radon is a colorless, odorless gas created when uranium in the soil breaks down.
Because homes are generally kept at negative pressure, it seeps into living spaces through microscopic cracks.
While crawl space vents tend to clear that area of radon during the summer, it’s not practical in Northern Nevada over winter because it lets cold air into the crawl space increasing energy costs and freezing pipes.
For crawl spaces, Denny said his company, Pinnacle Construction, installs a plastic barrier that seals the space, and then a fan and a vent to the roof.
Nevada State Health Division Radiation Control Supervisor Adrian Howe said that just sealing cracks won’t stop the radon from seeping into the house, because it can pass through cracks the eye can’t see.
Even concrete slabs will allow radon through and can be mitigated, Denny said.
Douglas County has the highest percentage of homes tested for radon in the state.
As of June 30, 2015, 3,424 out of 23,677 Douglas County homes have been tested for radon. While that’s less than half the 7,553 homes tested in Washoe County, there are nearly eight times as many homes in Washoe.
Of those, 1,410 have had 4 picoCuries per liter or more, the EPA action level.
The highest percentage of homes testing above the level in Douglas County is at Stateline with 70.5 percent, but homes have tested positive all over the county. The 89460 zip code has had 48.3 percent of homes tested come up positive.
Only Genoa has had less than 20 percent of the homes tested positive in the county.
Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer, and the leading cause among nonsmokers.
Free radon tests are available through the end of February at the Cooperative Extension Office, 1325 Waterloo Lane, Gardnerville.
On Wednesday, Carson Valley Middle School student Chris Rowe received checks for $1,075, a plaque from Gov. Brian Sandoval and certificates for his poster.