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VOL. 43 | NO. 34 | Friday, August 23, 2019

At-home radon testing should be a requirement

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In the 1980s the air quality in Nashville and other cities around the country began to worsen to the point that states and the Environmental Protection Agency began to take steps to improve the air Tennesseans breathe.

In Tennessee’s most polluted cities like Nashville and Chattanooga, mandatory emission testing for automobiles was instituted. As was the case in banning tobacco advertising, the government was trying to protect us from ourselves.

Last year, there was a bill in the General Assembly attempting to end the testing with the logic being cars are manufactured in a manner that reduces the emission anyway, so why test?

Arguments are that if there were no tests, automakers may revert to their old standards and eliminate the anti- pollutant components if no one is watching. Additionally, studies were done that suggest the state may lose millions of dollars in federal funding if the testing vanished.

There was validity to the tests when they began as polluted air can lead to various diseases, many of which are terminal. Yet there has been no movement afoot to ensure the quality of air that is breathed within the confines of the homes of Nashvillians or Tennesseans. The government warns of the dangers of smoking and limits auto emissions, but does nothing about a deadly gas present in many homes.

Radon is the second-leading cause of lung cancer, and according to David Coffey, president of Radon 1, a leading radon mitigation company, radon is a Class A carcinogen. Radon1.com’s website explains a Class A designation means radon “is an agent directly involved with causing lung cancer.’’

Radon is a breakdown of uranium and radium and can be found in the limestone that is located under most of the ground in the area. Lung cancer can be terminal and exposure to radon causes lung cancer. Yet there is no legislation protecting consumers from this deadly, invisible, virtually undetectable gas.

To further complicate matters, Coffey notes the energy efficiency that is so prevalent in new homes and renovations today can exacerbate the prevalence of radon in houses and businesses as well. He adds radon is a heavy gas and would settle into the earth, but that the tight, energy efficient homes with energy efficient windows and improved insulation act as a vacuum pulling the gas from the earth and into the houses.

4707 Churchwood Drive

In its gaseous state, radon can work its way into houses through cracks in basement walls and floor, crawl spaces or windows. As the “Do- It-Yourself” craze has spread across the land, Coffey says that the D-I-Yers are not as eager to put on kneepads and crawl around crawl spaces installing vapor barriers as they are to load a nail gun and open fire.

Radon is prevalent all over Tennessee, yet most homes are not tested for gas even though Tennessee Realtors Association has the potential hazard of radon included in its disclaimer form. In that form, it is grouped with asbestos, lead-based paint and other environmental issues that are not applicable in most property transfers.

Lenders flip positions often on termite letters at times requiring them, and at other times not wanting to see a letter even if the termite inspection exists.

They are more worried about the house collapsing than the buyer dying. Coffey and his Radon1 group find it odd that a lead-based paint disclosure is required on structures predating 1978, while radon testing and disclosure is not required. He acknowledges that the perils of lead-based paint to should be noted, but feels radon is of equal if not more importance.

In order to be harmed by lead-based paint, a person must eat it or make it airborne and inhale it. With radon, it is there as Sting might say, with “every breath you take.’’ On the positive side, radon is easily mitigated and the test for the gas is not invasive or expensive.

A radon mitigation could cost between $1,150 and $1,500, and the homeowner should consult with the group installing the system as to what level of picocuries per liter the system will maintain. A picocurie is one quintillionth of an ounce of radon. The EPA feels that a reading of 4.0 is acceptable, but some companies guarantee 2.6 or less.

Anyone that intends to continue breathing in their home should have a radon test performed. If not, there is no need.

Sale of the Week

Thomas Williams, the managing broker of Tarkington and Harwell, has struck again with another record-setting sale with the sale of 4707 Churchwood Drive. He sold the 3,395-square-foot home for $1,325,000 or $390 per square foot.

Housing four bedrooms and four full baths, Williams noted that the home is “nestled away in a lush, private professionally landscaped oasis” and that the yard was secured by fences and a gate. He described the home as “an entertainer’s dream.’’

With the entertaining feature in place it is no surprise that Gabrahm Vitek represented the buyers. Vitek hails from Scout Properties and is one of their premier agents. His buyer closed within 13 days of contract acceptance and paid the list price for this stunning home.

Richard Courtney is a licensed real estate broker with Fridrich and Clark Realty and can be reached at richard@richardcourtney.com.

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