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Do I need to test for radon when buying a condominium?
Friday, August 10, 2018
Because a condominium is a legal form of ownership, not a type of home structure, there is not a simple “yes or no” answer to this question. Radon testing is recommended by the EPA for “all homes below the third floor.” This is because radon gas comes out of the ground in areas with uranium/radium deposits, but it would be difficult for the gas to rise above the second floor unless any upper floors are connected as part of the same multi-level home. So, testing is specified for one and two-story units and, since it is recommended to be done on the lowest living level, the test should be placed on the first floor of a two-story unit.
If you are buying a first-floor unit, you run the same risk of a high radon level inside your condo as any other residence, especially when you are in a neighborhood with historically high radon test readings. Second floor condo units will be somewhat less likely to have a high test result.
A condo on the third floor or higher has an extremely low probability of having an elevated radon problem—but it is still possible. A 27 pico-curies per liter level (almost 7 times higher than the EPA’s recommended maximum of 4 pCi/l) was found on the 11th floor of a Florida condominium a few years ago. Apparently the aggregate in the concrete used for the construction was emitting the radon.
The Florida Department of Health maintains a database that will tell you the percentage of homes that have been tested in your zip code that exceeded the EPA’s maximum safe level of 4.0 pico-curies per liter of air.
The link to their webpage for this data is:
And here’s the disclaimer they add along with the results:
“This radon data does NOT represent a scientific or statistical survey; therefore, it should be interpreted with caution. This data may provide an indication of the radon potential in a zip code area if a large enough and properly distributed number of buildings have been tested and reported for the area. This data cannot be used to predict the radon level for new construction. Structural features, construction details and ventilation operations differ from building to building and greatly influence radon concentration. Structures within the same zip code area may have dramatically different indoor radon levels due to these differences. Inferring indoor radon levels for untested buildings, based on indoor radon data from tested buildings is not possible. The only way to know if a building has an elevated radon level is to test.”
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