A commenter at City-Data appears to confirm what has always been my suspicion: the "radon" threat is about as real as global warming. Which is to say, you've got a better chance of hitting a 565-foot home run in Yankee Stadium with a six iron than being harmed by radon.
I just got a contract on my house. Buyer had a home inspection done. Inspector owns a radon mitigation business on the side. Radon test comes up positive (above 4 pc/cl) [and] I'm told I need to get it fixed. Buyer's realtor who recommended inspector says she trusts him fully to do treatment.
I say no way. I will not reward someone who benefits by finding a problem. That's why I never let the termite company that found the "problem" to be the one that fixes it.
So I haven't decided what to do, so in the meantime I did some reading. And after about six hours, I came to the inescapable realization that RESIDENTIAL RADON DANGER IS A HOAX.
It's put out by the same folks who are selling us man-made global warming; WHO, the EPA, the NIH, all of whose best interests it serves to create crises so they can get money to keep "studying" the problem.
Here are some nagging hitches I am finding:
EPA's magical 4 picocuries/cubic liter threshold is arbitrary. There have never been tests of the effects of varying amounts of radon in a home setting. The only tests come from mine shafts in Pennsylvania where miners developed cancers, and where radon was among 25 or so radioactive elements present The results pf these findings were extrapolated to homes. In other words, THERE HAS NEVER BEEN A SINGLE VERIFIABLE CASE WHERE RADON IN A HOME WAS LINKED TO AN OCCURRENCE OF CANCER. Even the EPA has admitted it.
From a 1994 EPA report: "Facts Concerning Environmental Radon": "To date the EPA has had little success in stimulating home owners to measure levels in their homes which would be the first step in the process of deciding on a course of action if a high radon level is found. This is partly because it is difficult to get people concerned that their home, a place that one looks to for security, is a potential source of hidden danger. Also, it has not yet been possible to generate convincing data on increased risk at or below 4-8 pCi/liter"
What? No evidence of increased risk in the 4-8 range? Yet the EPA recommends action on any reading above 4? And all the radon companies are making $800 to $2000 setting up bogus vent systems for this number pulled out of thin air? And all the realtors, like sheep, fall into line?
Finally, two most widespread claims about radon all come from one source, the EPA:
1) Radon is the second-leading cause of lung cancer
2) 21,000 people die of lung cancer each year due to radon.
The rub here is that these two statements, long considered gospel, FAIL TO SEPARATE SMOKERS VS. NONSMOKERS. Furthermore, the numbers used are on the HIGH END of the actual findings which said 3,000 to 32,000. Ergo, it is IMPOSSIBLE TO MAKE EITHER CLAIM ABOVE without pulling numbers out of thin air.
ERGO, THERE IS NO WAY TO TELL WHETHER RADON OR SMOKING CAUSED CANCER IN THE ABOVE CASES.
Below is the sole source for these two claims which have been repeated thousands of times, so much, in fact, that they are considered gospel. It is from the public summary of the EPA report, "Biological Effects of Ionizing Radiation".
Note: "EVER-SMOKERS' is defined as ANYONE WHO IS SMOKING OR HAS EVER SMOKED.
"The BEIR VI committee's preferred central estimates... are that about 1 in 10 or 1 in 7 of all lung cancer deaths-amounting to ... about 15,400 to 21,800 per year in the United States- can be attributed to radon among ever-smokers and never-smokers together."
"The number of radon-related lung cancer deaths resulting from (our analysis) could be as low as 3000 or as high as 32,000. Most of the radon-related lung cancers occur among ever-smokers, and because of the synergism between smoking and radon, many of the cancers in ever-smokers could be prevented by either tobacco control or reduction of radon exposure."
So...."15,400 to 21,800 per year in the United States- can be attributed to radon among ever-smokers and never-smokers together".....So how in the HELL can they arrive at the claim that "21,000 people die in America from radon each year? It's a bogus lie.
And from that lie sprang the industry of radon mitigation for residential homes that we are all paying for.
When you think about it, anybody with an IQ over 75 would question the idea of paying a thousand bucks to "cure" a problem you can't see or smell; a problem nobody has ever noticed or observed negative results from; a problem that apparently didn't even exist until 1984.
But this information doesn't help me on my house sale. The buyer believes there's a serious threat. The realtor believes it. If I show them this stuff, they won't believe it. I'm probably stuck paying for a mirage.