26 Sep

MetroBoston, Publication Date September 25, 2012
By Attorney George Warshaw

If you own a home, or hope to in the future, you need to know about radon. Radon is a colorless, odorless gas that emanates from rock formations below your home. It comes into the house through the foundation. It causes cancer. 21,000 people will die from it this year.

Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer.

Radon can be remediated in the house by installing a relatively inexpensive fan and exhaust system, but people tend to take no action if levels meet the federal safety standard.

The federal radon standard considered “safe” is 4.0 picocuries per liter of air, expressed as 4.0 pCi/L. The federal standard, to me, is a disgrace.

According to the EPA, it is anticipated that out of 1,000 people exposed to radon, the following will likely develop lung cancer:

8.0 pCi/L…..15 nonsmokers or 120 smokers

4.0 pCi/L…….7 nonsmokers or 62 smokers

2.0 pCi/L…….4 nonsmokers or 32 smokers

1.3 pCi/L…….2 nonsmokers or 20 smokers

The risk is approximately 9x greater for smokers at the federal “safe level” of 4.0.

Some consider 7 cancer victims out of a thousand an acceptable number, I don’t; declaring 62 out of a thousand an acceptable number of cancer victims because they are smokers is unconscionable.

More on Radon next week © 2012 George Warshaw.

George Warshaw is a real estate attorney and author. He represents buyers and sellers of homes and condos in Massachusetts, and prepares wills, trusts, and estate plans. George welcomes new clients and questions at


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