Radon More Dangerous in Portland



Home Improvement

The Oregonian

It’s a colorless, odorless gas that is second only to cigarette smoking in lung cancer deaths nationwide.  And thanks to a unique blend of topography and geography, radon is even more prevalent in the Northwest — specifically, Portland.

New estimates of radon risks highlight the importance for homeowners to test for the presence of radon.  In fact, a new report released by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says that one in every four houses in the Portland area accumulates radon above what the federal government considers safe.  Radon seeps from the ground up into our homes, and prolonged exposure causes cancer. It is blamed for more deaths annually that those killed by drunk drivers.

Radon is a quiet, invisible visitor — a “leftover” of sorts from the Missoula Flood, when granite-infused sediment high in uranium washed into the region from retreating glaciers. Radon levels are particularly high in Northeast Portland’s Alameda Ridge — an entire deposit of ice age run-off.

The good news is that testing for radon is relatively cheap and easy, but if you’re anxious for an accurate answer faster, the Neil Kelly team can provide that assurance earlier.

Home test kits vs. professional testing

“We do it a little differently from most people in town,” says Neil Kelly Home Improvement Manager, Chad Ruhoff. “Most test kits are sent away to Colorado, but we do the testing and measurement in-house,” he says. The cost to test is less than $100 dollars. “Testing takes 48 hours and we’ll tell you the levels the day we pick up the kit,” he says.

The measurement technologies differ — Neil Kelly measures emissions from the radon particles that strike an electronic plate, while most home kits collect radon in a carbon canister to send off to the lab. They can both be equally accurate, says Ruhoff, but the key is making sure that equipment is handled correctly from start to finish and that tests are set up in the proper locations in the basement or near the foundation where radon gases seep in.

What happens if you find radon?

The Neil Kelly Home Performance team is state certified to do both radon testing and radon mitigation in Portland. The most common radon fix involves the sealing of unsealed basements or crawl spaces and attaching power fans to forcibly vent the radon gas up and away from the home.  It is not an average DIY project and experts warn to make sure and pick your radon mitigation contractor carefully, because not all of them install venting.

“Think about it,” says Ruhoff. “The vacuum effect your house creates actually pulls gas from the soil beneath, so just sealing the basement isn’t going to prevent radon from getting in,” he says. “You need to install a power vent to create negative pressure under the home.  This is a serious issue and we pride ourselves at Neil Kelly at doing it the right way.”

To learn more about Radon Testing call the Neil Kelly Home Improvement Division at (866) 691-2719 or drop us a line at neilkelly.com/contact.

One Comment


Having the test done or not is really a pnaeosrl decision. People who have a finished basement that they plan to use are those most likely to have the test, although others have the test just as a caution. The test might also be appropriate for homes on a slab.What I’ve been told by inspectors is that the test’s reading can vary from one season to the next, or due to the temp or barometric reading. In other words, a test done in the summer (or winter) may indicate a safe level, while a subsequent test in the winter (or summer) may indicate mitigation needs to be done.

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