Frank Mulholland

Daily Union Managing Editor

If you have plans to buy or sell a home in the upcoming year, there is a new law concerning radon information you should know about.

Among the over 100 new laws that will go into effect on January 1, 2008 is the Illinois Radon Awareness Act. This new law is designed to increase public awareness about the health risks associated with radon.

Radon is a radioactive element that is part of the radioactive decay chain of naturally occurring uranium in soil. You can’t see radon, nor can you smell or taste it. Unlike carbon monoxide and many other home pollutants, radon’s adverse health effect, lung cancer, is usually not produced immediately. Thus you may be exposed to radon for many years without ever suspecting its presence in your home.

The Illinois Radon Awareness Act requires sellers to provide anyone buying a home, condominium or other residential property in Illinois with information about indoor radon exposure and the fact that radon is the leading cause of lung cancer in non-smokers and the second leading cause overall.

“Each year, more than 160,000 homes are sold in Illinois, so this new law will help us spread the word about radon health risks and the importance of testing homes for radon,” said Governor Rod Blagojevich. “This law is a great educational tool that should help us increase the number of homes that get tested for radon.”

Local real estate broker Brenda Reynolds said this new law does not require testing.

“With this law we are making the public aware that we live in a area where radon can be a problem,” said Reynolds. “So the buyer has the choice then to test the home if the seller has not done so. Then if there is radon, we decide what to do, go ahead with the sale, or to remediate those types of things.”

Reynolds went on to say there is no requirement of either the buyer or seller to do anything other than making the buyer aware there may be a problem and there is recourse.

Reynolds’ office already has the two pieces of information the act requires. The “Radon Testing Guidelines for Real Estate Transactions” and a “Disclosure of Information on Radon Hazards” are the documents the homebuyer must be provided with.

To help real estate agents and private sellers of residential property comply with the new law, the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) developed the “Radon Testing Guidelines for Real Estate Transactions” brochure, which provides information for the homebuyer including test options for real estate transactions, recommendations on who should conduct a radon test related to home sale, guidelines on proper testing and information about what to do if the test results show elevated levels of radon.

“We recommend that everyone test their home for radon, whether you’re buying a new home or have lived in the same house for several years,” said IEMA Director Andrew Velasquez III. “We’ve found homes with elevated levels of radon in every part of Illinois, and there’s no way to know whether or not your home has excess radon unless you test for it. It’s a simple step to take to ensure the health of your family.”

Paul VanDeursen, owner and operator of Ace Hardware in Shelbyville said he does sell radon test kits. VanDeursen said that kit costs $10.99.

IEMA licenses radon measurement and mitigation professionals to ensure they have the proper equipment, specialized training and technical skills to do the job right. IEMA encourages anyone who discovers their home has elevated levels of radon to contact a licensed radon mitigation professional to correct the problem. Depending on the home, radon mitigation can cost between $800-1,200.

The “Radon Testing Guidelines for Real Estate Transactions” brochure, a sample “Disclosure of Information on Radon Hazards,” several other radon publications, results from a statewide radon study, lists of licensed radon measurement and mitigation professionals and requests for free home test kits are all available on the IEMA website at Radon information and free home kits are also available through the radon hotline at 1-800-325-1245.

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