Radon Mitigation: How much will it cost? Who pays and how?
Radon gas occurs naturally just about anywhere; there isn’t any way to predict where it will turn up. It seeps through small cracks in foundations or basement walls, where it becomes trapped inside. Without testing, it’s impossible to know whether you have radon in your home.
A certified radon mitigation contractor can test for radon (est. $100 – $200) depending on home construction and location. A DIY test kit, available from most home improvement stores, runs between $15 – $40, usually including lab analysis. But, guess what? Missouri has a radon testing program that gives free DIY testing kits; so testing doesn’t actually have to cost you a thing!
While Arkansas doesn’t have a free radon test kit program, Arkansas residents can still get a DIY kit inexpensively online at Amazon or from a local hardware store.
There are no safe levels of radon; the Environmental Protection Agency has determined levels above 2 pCi/l can affect your health, roughly 4 radon atoms per liter of air. Exposure to 2 pCi/l increases the risk of lung cancer in nonsmokers by 0.4%; the risk increases by 3.2% chance for smokers.
Experts and the EPA recommend mitigation for indoor levels higher than 4 pCi/l. It’s difficult and not especially cost effective to reduce levels below 2 pCi/l. Levels between 2 and 4 pCi/l are a grey area: if smokers or young children live in the house, err on the side of mitigation. Due to settling, newly built homes may require phased mitigation unless mitigation systems were installed during construction.
Fortunately, radon gas concentrations disperse quickly with good ventilation and there are several active and passive methods to prevent the gas from entering your home. Depending on a variety of factors, mitigation system installation costs average just under $1,500 nationally, but can be more expensive. A certified mitigation expert will test and inspect your home before offering specific recommendations and quoting a price.
The Department of Housing and Urban Development offers a 203(k) mortgage financing program to buy and repair a new home. If eligible costs are $5,000 or more—not just radon mitigation, any qualified improvements— residential buyers can finance the expense.
HUD also makes Community Development Block Grants at a local level, as well as Environmental Justice Grants to local organizations or tribal governments representing people of color and low-income communities.
If you already own a home that needs mitigation, home equity loans can help defray costs. Radon systems are far more affordable than you might guess, however, and the added benefits of installing one make it well worth the investment.
For more information, contact a mitigation contractor or your state radon office.