Radon risks live chat with Scott Learn: Your questions answered
5:35
The Oregonian: 
Hello, this is The Oregonian's Radon live chat with Scott Learn. You can enter your questions now and Scott will get will answer them when the chat starts on Wednesday at 1pm. Check back during or after the chat to get your answers.
Tuesday February 19, 2013 5:35 The Oregonian
12:29
The Oregonian: 
Thanks for the questions. Keep them coming. Scott will be here at 1 p.m. with answers.
Wednesday February 20, 2013 12:29 The Oregonian
12:51
The Oregonian: 
Just a reminder: It really helps us track the conversation if you fill out the name field, even if it's with a simple set of initials, before you submit your question. Thank you.
Wednesday February 20, 2013 12:51 The Oregonian
12:59
Scott Learn: 
Hey folks: I’m ready to take your radon questions. I’m going to dump a few answers first to questions filed early.
Wednesday February 20, 2013 12:59 Scott Learn
12:59
[Comment From GuestGuest: ] 
Hey, Scott, I'm looking at houses in NE, if there is no basement how worried should I be about radon risks. I saw the higher risk map on Oregonlive.
Wednesday February 20, 2013 12:59 Guest
12:59
Scott Learn: 
Guest: On that NE PDX house: Basements typically have higher radon levels – they’re buried in dirt. But homes with crawl spaces or slab-on-dirt can have high levels, too. I wouldn’t worry too much – it’s a long-term health risk and it’s fixable -- but I’d ask for a test as part of the home inspection.
Wednesday February 20, 2013 12:59 Scott Learn
12:59
The Oregonian
Wednesday February 20, 2013 12:59 
12:59
[Comment From ChrisChris: ] 
How worried should I be about Radon in a NE, madison south area home with no basement?
Wednesday February 20, 2013 12:59 Chris
1:00
Scott Learn: 
Chris: In Madison South, you’d be in either a high or moderate risk area overall. But here’s the problem with the radon risk maps: Any house can have high levels, even in overall low-risk areas, and the levels can vary from house to house. That’s why the experts say everyone should test.
Wednesday February 20, 2013 1:00 Scott Learn
1:00
[Comment From JImJIm: ] 
Unfinished basement in a 100 year old home with thin cracked concrete floor tests 7 picocuries long term but used just to do laundry; upstairs living area tests 2.8 short term. Is this a concern? If so, is replacing or sealing the concrete floor the obvious solution or should piping the radon out be first choice?
Wednesday February 20, 2013 1:00 JIm
1:00
Scott Learn: 
Jim: Radon contractors – and the Environmental Protection Agency – will tell you that sealing will fail in the long run, as the house shifts and settles. But it doesn’t hurt short-term. If you ever sell your house, the buyer is probably going to want a pipe-and-fan system installed before they sign on the dotted line. If you get the EPA’s citizen guide to radon – at epa.gov/radon – it’ll give you the relative lung cancer risk of 8 picocuries per liter (close to your level). It’s a lot worse for a smoker than a non-smoker.
Wednesday February 20, 2013 1:00 Scott Learn
1:00
[Comment From 9722997229: ] 
Hi Scott. I'm looking at the map from your earlier story on radon risks in the Portland area and I'm wondering why some areas see such elevated levels. My northeast Washington County neighborhood, for instance, is dominated by relatively new construction, so it surprised me to see we're in a high-risk area. Is it something about new construction? Or does it have to do with the geology of the area perhaps?
Wednesday February 20, 2013 1:00 97229
1:00
Scott Learn: 
97229: Don’t know for sure, but my guess is it’s geology, not the new construction. It depends a lot on where granite-infused sediment from the Missoula floods settled out. Granite has higher levels of uranium than other rocks, and radon is a byproduct of uranium decay. State geologists are thinking about putting together a map that shows flood distribution along with radon risk, which would help us both.
Wednesday February 20, 2013 1:00 Scott Learn
1:00
[Comment From Joe FJoe F: ] 
I hope you can add to the information my addressing my situation. I have a newly built (2003) home that is well insulated. A prime candidate for testing, maybe. The house sits 3 feet off the ground with a crawl space and that space has some plastic covering but not totally sealed. Q1: is it still important for me to test? Q2: where do I test: 1) in the family room where I am most days or 2) in the crawl space that I almost never enter? Also : what about all the vents to the crawl space around the house that I keep closed in the winter to conserve heat: should I keep the all wide open for more venting? Can radon still seep up to the first floor? thanks Joe F
Wednesday February 20, 2013 1:00 Joe F
1:01
[Comment From GuestGuest: ] 
Hi! Thanks for doing this. In the article there is no discussion for the situation I have.
Wednesday February 20, 2013 1:01 Guest
1:01
Scott Learn: 
Guest: Nowhere to get tests for free that I know of, and no government help, either. Some states offer free tests, but not Oregon. Have not heard of government subsidies for radon remediation work. It does become a social justice issue. The remediation cost, around $1,500, is lower than some big home projects but still a painful chunk of money.
Wednesday February 20, 2013 1:01 Scott Learn
1:01
[Comment From GuestGuest: ] 
Is there anywhere in town to get testing kits for free? Is there any place to get government grants or low intest loans to fix the problem?
Wednesday February 20, 2013 1:01 Guest
1:02
Scott Learn: 
Joe F: Good questions. I’d test, if only to gain peace of mind. Don’t test in the crawl space. Family room sounds good, but the kits have pretty precise directions and may suggest somewhere else. Radon can definitely seep into the house from a crawl space. Opening the vents would likely reduce radon levels, at some heating cost. Run a short-term test and see where you’re at first.
Wednesday February 20, 2013 1:02 Scott Learn
1:02
The Oregonian
Wednesday February 20, 2013 1:02 
1:02
[Comment From GuestGuest: ] 
Are there any grants or loans available to low income retired individuals?
Wednesday February 20, 2013 1:02 Guest
1:02
Scott Learn: 
Guest: Nowhere to get tests for free that I know of, and no government help, either. Some states offer free tests, but not Oregon. Have not heard of government subsidies for radon remediation work. It does become a social justice issue. The remediation cost, around $1,500, is lower than some big home projects but still a painful chunk of money.
Wednesday February 20, 2013 1:02 Scott Learn
1:03
[Comment From Joe FJoe F: ] 
OK. Thanks!
Wednesday February 20, 2013 1:03 Joe F
1:03
[Comment From MarkMark: ] 
I don't understand the "alarmist" attitude of the Oregonian on this issue? This is a know fact around here infact Gregory Heights & Beaumont School were extensively remodeled in 2001 to mitigate the Radon. Alameda Ridge is and has been known to be a "hot Spot" for radon for at least the last 50 years? I want to know where the spike in Lung Cancer deaths has been to precipitate this alert?
Wednesday February 20, 2013 1:03 Mark
1:04
Scott Learn: 
Mark: Latest news is new radon numbers compiled by Portland State University. They used a lot more data and showed higher risk than before. But, like we said in the story, the risk isn’t astronomical. Just something to test for and deal with.
Wednesday February 20, 2013 1:04 Scott Learn
1:05
Scott Learn: 
Mark: We wrote the second story b/c I got a lot of questions and it was clear people wanted more information.
Wednesday February 20, 2013 1:05 Scott Learn
1:06
The Oregonian: 
It sounds like radon testing has become an issue in real estate transactions. What can buyers and sellers expect to be asked to do before a sale goes through?
Wednesday February 20, 2013 1:06 The Oregonian
1:06
Scott Learn: 
Sellers can expect they’ll be asked if they’ve tested for radon and what the results were. If they haven’t, there’s a growing chance buyers will ask for a short-term test as part of the home inspection.
Wednesday February 20, 2013 1:06 Scott Learn
1:07
[Comment From MarkMark: ] 
Why, the Lung Cancer deaths have not increased, which would be the ONLY reason to increase efforts to measure and mitigate the radon.
Wednesday February 20, 2013 1:07 Mark
1:08
Scott Learn: 
Mark: We’ll have to agree to disagree. It’s the second leading cause of lung cancer. You may be well-informed on it and how to deal with it, but a lot of folks aren’t.
Wednesday February 20, 2013 1:08 Scott Learn
1:08
The Oregonian: 
Let's say you're one of the unlucky folks whose home has high levels of radon. What do you need to know before you hire a contractor to fix the problem? Are there certifications or licenses to ask about?
Wednesday February 20, 2013 1:08 The Oregonian
1:09
Scott Learn: 
KJ: Oregon has a list of certified radon mitigation contractors. Healthoregon.org/radon. Two other places to check, that can be more up to date: nrpp.info and nrsb.org
Wednesday February 20, 2013 1:09 Scott Learn
1:09
The Oregonian: 
Readers, keep those questions coming. What else do you need or want to know about radon risks, testing and fixes?
Wednesday February 20, 2013 1:09 The Oregonian
1:11
The Oregonian: 
Scott, what were the most common concerns you heard from readers after your initial report on radon in Portland?
Wednesday February 20, 2013 1:11 The Oregonian
1:11
How did you hear about this chat?
The Oregonian
 ( 83% )
OregonLive
 ( 17% )
Social media
 ( 0% )
Email invitation
 ( 0% )

Wednesday February 20, 2013 1:11 
1:11
Scott Learn: 
KJ: Lot about where to get the radon tests – online is great, btw, though hardware stores, big box stores and some grocery stores have them, too ...
Wednesday February 20, 2013 1:11 Scott Learn
1:12
Scott Learn: 
KJ: Also, lot of folks wanting to know how risky their area is. Those are the ones that made me concerned that radon risk maps could give people in “low-risk” areas false confidence.
Wednesday February 20, 2013 1:12 Scott Learn
1:13
The Oregonian: 
Several reader comments about construction standards. Have changing standards on energy efficiency sealed houses up so tight that radon is more likely to be trapped?
Wednesday February 20, 2013 1:13 The Oregonian
1:14
The Oregonian: 
I should tell you all that I'm Kjerstin Gabrielson moderating on behalf of The Oregonian. KJ for short.
Wednesday February 20, 2013 1:14 The Oregonian
1:15
Scott Learn: 
KJ: Hopefully, the basement or crawl space is sealed up tight, too, which can reduce radon getting in in the first place. The worst case would be a tightly sealed home and a leaky basement or foundation. But even snug-tight homes still have air circulation.
Wednesday February 20, 2013 1:15 Scott Learn
1:15
[Comment From SWSW: ] 
You can also get home-test kits from contractors. They're usually available for pick up.
Wednesday February 20, 2013 1:15 SW
1:15
[Comment From MarkMark: ] 
Leave a basement window cracked open and most would be fine
Wednesday February 20, 2013 1:15 Mark
1:16
The Oregonian: 
Scott, is it as simple as Mark suggests?
Wednesday February 20, 2013 1:16 The Oregonian
1:16
Scott Learn: 
Mark: Definitely helps, though you could lose a lot of heat in the winter.
Wednesday February 20, 2013 1:16 Scott Learn
1:17
The Oregonian: 
Should homeowners attempt to make fixes themselves? Or is professional help required?
Wednesday February 20, 2013 1:17 The Oregonian
1:18
Scott Learn: 
KJ: Unless they’re great at diy, not if they’re going for the vent-pipe-and-fan option. The contractors will test around the home to make sure placement is right, and it involves electric and, often, busting through a slab or basement floor
Wednesday February 20, 2013 1:18 Scott Learn
1:19
The Oregonian: 
Readers, what else do you want to know before we let Scott go?
Wednesday February 20, 2013 1:19 The Oregonian
1:20
Scott Learn: 
Last thing: Wintertime’s a good time to test, when levels are relatively high. Thanks for reading.
Wednesday February 20, 2013 1:20 Scott Learn
1:21
[Comment From GuestGuest: ] 
I'm thinking about buying a house in a high-risk neighborhood. Are radon levels listed anywhere I could search?
Wednesday February 20, 2013 1:21 Guest
1:21
[Comment From GuestGuest: ] 
I mean for specific addresses?
Wednesday February 20, 2013 1:21 Guest
1:22
Scott Learn: 
You can see radon risk maps above. They don’t get any more detailed than Zip Code level. I’d ask the seller if they’ve tested and get their results, and I’d have a test as part of the home inspection
Wednesday February 20, 2013 1:22 Scott Learn
1:23
The Oregonian: 
Thanks, Scott, for your help today. Readers, Scott, any last thoughts before we sign off?
Wednesday February 20, 2013 1:23 The Oregonian
1:24
Scott Learn: 
Thanks for reading. You can send any story suggestions or other questions to my email, slearn@oregonian.com.
Wednesday February 20, 2013 1:24 Scott Learn
1:25
The Oregonian: 
All right then. Thanks all for joining today's chat. You can keep up with Scott's reporting on the environment and natural resources at www.oregonlive.com/environment
Wednesday February 20, 2013 1:25 The Oregonian
 
Powered by google translate
English  English
简体中文  简体中文
Dansk  Dansk
Deutsch  Deutsch
Español  Español
Français  Français
Italiano  Italiano
日本語  日本語
日本語  한국어
Nederlands  Nederlands
Norsk  Norsk
Português  Português
Русский  Русский
Svenska  Svenska
Close