You can’t see it. You can’t smell it. You can’t taste it. Radon, a Class A carcinogen, is the the second cause of lung cancer overall. Radon is responsible for more than 21,000 lung cancer deaths a year (one every 25 minutes). In Florida, one in five homes tested has elevated radon levels above the EPA action level of 4 pCi/L. Elevated radon levels have been found in all types of Florida buildings, including manufactured homes, schools and high-rise condominiums.
Radon comes from the radioactive breakdown of naturally occurring radium found in most Florida soils. As a gas in the soil, it enters buildings through small openings in the foundation. Since the building can hold the radon similarly to smoke trapped under a glass, indoor radon concentrations can increase to many times that of outdoor levels. The only way to know the radon levels in your home or business is to test.
The Surgeon General has warned that radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States today. If you smoke and your home has high radon levels, you're at high risk for developing lung cancer. Some scientific studies of radon exposure indicate that children may be more sensitive to radon. This may be due to their higher respiration rate and their rapidly dividing cells, which may be more vulnerable to radiation damage.
Radon Testing is required for State licensed, regulated, owned or operated Facilities. This requirement is the same for all buildings in facilities required to be tested for radon per Florida Statue 404.056. Currently all buildings in a facility that are used by the clients of the facility are required to be tested twice, five years apart. Once tested twice, testing is no longer required unless one of the triggering events occurs:
1) A building is subject to significant structural renovation or a change in facility operation equivalent to a building structural change, or
2) The facility legally becomes a new facility. Examples of a legally new facility would be the issuance of a new license, or there could be a change in ownership or operator. If a facility operator failed to complete the required testing in any building by the time it was due, the testing should be completed as soon as is practical.
The procedures for mandatory testing can be found in 404.056, Florida Statute and in 64E-5 Parts X and XII (46 KB PDF) of the Florida Administrative Code. Special information for private schools completing the Department of Education Sworn Compliance Form is provided.
Facilities required to test for radon by Florida Statute 404.056 are required to follow the protocols and procedures outlined in Department of Health publication DH\PI 150-334.
Florida Statute (FS) Chapter 404.056(4) and the Florida Administrative Code (FAC) Chapter 64E-5.1208(1)(b) requires testing and reporting for radon and its decay products, for certain facilities, including foster care homes. Additionally:
Radon testing requirements are county specific based on the type of building containing the foster home and whether the Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR) has a radon resistant construction recommendation for that class of building in that county.
FAC Chapter 64E-12 for community based residential facilities does not apply to family foster homes.
There is language in chapter 64E-12.012 that refers to FS Chapter 404, and provides information directing facilities to contact the Radon and Indoor Air section for testing requirements and forms. There are no radon mitigation requirements in the rule.
Through an interagency agreement between the Department of Health and the Department of Children and Families, DOH conducts physical plant inspections at family foster homes using DCF's rule Chapter 65C-13, FAC.
Chapter 65C-13, of the FAC, mandate radon testing for foster homes and retesting every five years.
DCF Chapter 65C-13.030 (5)(b), FAC ("Radon levels shall be at a level which does not affect the safety and well-being of children in the homes") requires family foster homes to mitigate radon levels over the established level.
A local foster care licensing group in Polk County has decided to deny licensing to foster care applicants with elevated radon levels.
The mandatory radon testing requirements were established to provide the guardians and decision makers of the clients of these facilities with information on radon, so that they can make informed choices on how best to protect the health and well being of their clients. Any requirement on licensing or mitigation of these facilities rests upon the statutory authority of the regulatory agency.
If you are concerned about the radiation risk to you and your family in your home, the first thing to do is perform a radon test. Radon is the primary cause of lung cancer among non-smokers and is the second leading cause of lung cancer after smoking. Radon at the average indoor level of 1.3 pCi/l constitutes the single largest source of radiation exposure for the average American. Radon comes from the radioactive breakdown of naturally occurring radium found in most Florida soils, and in most earthen material used in the building process. In the vast majority of buildings with radon problems, the largest source of radon is soil gas entering the building through small openings in the foundation. Since any building has a limited volume of air, indoor radon concentrations can be many times that of outdoor air, about 0.4 pCi/l. Radon testing can be a simple first step for determining if there is any chance that the granite in your home could be a significant radiation risk. If you perform a radon test and the radon level is low, then the likelihood of there being a significant amount of radiation emanation from your countertops is extremely low. To test for radon, you can use radon test kits from your local home improvement store or internet retailers, or you may contact a State of Florida certified measurement business. Never has a Florida radon mitigation required that a granite counter top be removed to protect the home occupants. With the concern over the radioactive risk potential of granite countertops, it is important to remember that we are always exposed to a certain level of background radiation. All granite, and most earthen materials, contain trace amounts of uranium and radium, emit gamma radiation and release radon gas. While the Florida Department of Health has never performed a study specifically designed to evaluate any health risks of granite counter tops, staff from the Florida Department of Health's (DOH) Bureau of Radiation Control and from DOH's Radon Program have had the opportunity over the years survey various granite samples for gamma emissions, including a few granite counter tops, and have yet to find granite thought to be a significant gamma radiation hazard. The term 'significant' is used because there is measurable gamma radiation from granite as radiation is always around us, just not at levels of concern. If you still wish to have your granite counter tops evaluated for their potential for radiation exposure, please be aware there are no state or federal standards for analysis or the professionals performing the service. Evaluating the gamma radiation and radon emanations from the granite are two separate steps that may require different specialists with slightly different knowledge sets and experience. Should the professional make a determination of your risk from radon, provide radon in air measurement services, make recommendations on strategies to reduce radon levels, they must be certified by this Florida Health Department. The gamma radiation exposure evaluation would start with a survey performed with a dose rate meter. This is a device that evaluates not only the rate of radioactivity, but the energies of the gamma photons. The individual performing the survey would then need to be able to evaluate the measured dose rates against occupancy and use patterns in the area to determine an estimated annual exposure. While there are no radiation exposure standard standards specific to granite counter tops, there are two standards that may be referenced in any professional evaluation:
1) There is general guidance on radiation exposures in buildings and radiation exposure from naturally occurring radioactive materials. Chapter 64E-5.1001 of the Florida Administrative Code recommends that the mean gamma exposure rate in a building should not exceed 20 micro roentgens per hour including the background. This standard allows for localized areas in the building to have a higher gamma exposure rate provided that the overall mean does not exceed the standard. There is no guidance on how to interpret or implement this standard. Whether it should be calculated based on actual occupancy and usage patterns or as a simple average across the entire building space.
2) The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has a public dose limit due to licensed activities of 100 mrem/year. This is a dose above the average person's exposure of 360 mrem/year. This standard has been used in proposed standards for exposures to the public from naturally occurring radioactive materials. Evaluating the radon producing potential of any material involves the evaluation of how much radon comes out of the surface per unit time. The technique used is often referred to as a 'radon flux' or 'flux bucket' measurement. A container of a known volume of air is sealed to the surface to be measured for a set period of time. A radon testing device is used to measure the change in concentration of radon in the container. A calculation must then be applied to evaluate the contribution from the radon in the container to the entire volume of air in the building. In Florida, the department certifies persons who perform radon gas or radon progeny measurements, including sample collection, analysis, or interpretation of such measurements. Most of the state certified professionals only have experience in radon for indoor air measurements. You may need to ensure that the radon measurement specialist of the radon testing company has reviewed and approved any procedures related to the radon emanation measurements.
Radon Risk in Florida Homes and Buildings: A reminder to realtors, renters, property buyers and sellers.
Realtors abide by a code of ethics that binds them to communicate known issues in a property to buyers. Thus, it is required and critical to broaden the awareness about radon risks to the public during real estate transactions.
Real estate transactions provide a unique opportunity for radon testing, because other inspections of property conditions occur at that time (termite, structural integrity, moisture, other indoor air pollutants, etc.). The Notification on Real Estate Documents [Section 404.056(5), Florida Statutes (F.S.)] shall be provided "at time of, or prior to, contract for sale and purchase of any building or execution of a rental agreement". This Statute requires the following statement:
"RADON GAS: Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas that, when it has accumulated in a building in sufficient quantities, may present health risks to persons who are exposed to it over time. Levels of radon that exceed federal and state guidelines have been found in buildings in Florida. Additional information regarding radon and radon testing may be obtained from your county health department."
Many realtors network with home inspectors who may also be Florida radon certified. However, not all home inspectors are radon certified. Note that only Florida certified radon businesses and professionals shall provide radon related services for a fee or remuneration. Note that the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Federal Housing Administration (FHA) and US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) recommend and now require testing for radon.
Some realtors may feel that radon testing may jeopardize the sale or rental of dwellings or other buildings. This may prove to be a liability. In the past, the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR) has fined these realtors for failing to provide radon test disclosures to clients, and have ordered them to attend a series of education classes.
Many realtors carry insurance which includes a statement of errors and omissions, and other statements about pre-sale or pre-rental [S.624, F.S.].
Radon risk in Florida dwellings and buildings, and professionals providing radon services, is regulated by Florida Statute. The Notification on Real Estate Documents [Section 404.056(5), Florida Statutes (F.S.)] shall be provided "at time of, or prior to, contract for sale and purchase of any building or execution of a rental agreement". However, "residential transient occupancy is excluded provided that such occupancy is 45 days or less" [S. 509.013(11), F.S.].
Education is a key to reversing misinformation. The Florida Health Department has developed a free video training for realtors about radon, and may provide training at meetings (call 800-543-8279). Additionally, you should know that only Florida certified radon businesses and professionals shall provide radon related services for a fee or other remuneration.
Listings of Florida certified radon businesses and professionals and other radon information is available from the Florida Health Department directly, by telephone at 850-245-4288, 800-543-8279, or by e-mail.
As a condition of participating in state scholarship programs, private schools must complete an online a Scholarship Compliance Form. This form is to confirm that all private schools that receive state funds have met all applicable regulations. Mandatory radon testing may be one of those requirements. The compliance confirmation includes a section on mandatory radon testing. In section 8, question H, the section refers to "Mandatory Measurements Nonresidential Radon Measurement Report (Form DH1777), in accordance with s. 404.056, Florida Statutes, and 64E-5, Florida Administrative Code." In discussions with Department of Education, it was determined that the question asks if you met all the conditions of mandatory radon testing, or if you were required to test. The testing requirement has changed since its original inception in 1989. The materials the schools must have on hand to answer 'Yes' to the question will depend on how old the school is or how recently any structural changes were made to school buildings. These requirements are building specific rather than campus specific.
All schools in all counties in continual use since before July 1st, 1994 must test.
There should be record of at least two sets of testing. The first set of testing should be pre-July 1st, 1994, that includes tests of 100% of all first floor and below grade rooms, 20% of any second story rooms, and 10% of any third story rooms. Bathrooms, storage rooms and kitchens are excluded form testing. Hallways are excluded unless a seating area is designated in the hallway. The second set of testing would have been performed between July 1st, 1994 and June 30, 1999. For buildings with all results from the first round of testing below 4 pCi/l, there should be results for testing of 20% of the ground contact rooms. For buildings with results greater than or equal to 4 pCi/l during the first round of testing, there should be results for testing of 100% of the ground contact rooms. This is required of all schools in all counties. Testing is required in all counties.
For school buildings opened between July 1st, 1994 and June 30th, 1999.
You should have Form DH1777 showing testing in 100% of all first floor and below grade habitable rooms. Bathrooms, storage rooms and kitchens are excluded from testing. Hallways are excluded unless a seating area is designated in the hallway. This is a requirement of all schools in all counties. There are no exemptions for any school buildings in continuous use since before July 1, 1999. Follow-up radon testing is required in school buildings in the counties where mandatory radon testing is required for post July 1st, 1999 buildings. The follow-up testing shall include 5% of ground contact rooms that students use in each building. These tests should be started after 5 years of occupancy and reported by the end of the sixth year.
For school buildings opened or structurally changed since July 1st, 1999.
You should have a Form DH1777 showing radon tests from a minimum of 20% of the ground contact rooms that would normally be used by students. Bathrooms, storage rooms and kitchens are excluded from testing. Hallways are excluded unless a seating area is designated in the hallway. This radon testing requirement is county specific and certain counties are currently exempt from radon testing. See the current mandatory testing information for more details and exclusions. After five years of occupancy, 5% of the rooms used by students shall be retested. Thus, a school that opened September 1st, 1999 shall perform retesting after September 1st, 2004 and have it reported to this office by September 1st, 2005.
If you believe that you performed the required radon testing, but are unable to find copies of your reports, contact the Bureau of Epidemiology, Radon program at 800-543-8279. If your facility failed to comply with the mandatory testing, or no proof can be found to verify compliance, you must complete radon testing in accordance with the following:
For school buildings in continual use since before July 1st, 1994.
Radon testing of all buildings is required statewide. If no testing was performed, immediately complete 100% testing of ground contact rooms in each building. These rooms will include all rooms that students would be expected to use or visit as part of their normal school experience. Classrooms, offices, fellowship halls, cafeteria, gymnasiums, and clinics are the types of rooms to include. Bathrooms, kitchens, storage, teacher lounges are excluded. Hallways are excluded unless a designated seating area is in the hallway. Schedule to perform retesting after five years based on the results of the initial testing. 100% of ground contact floors shall be tested in buildings with results greater than or equal to 4 pCi/l, and 20% of ground contact floors in buildings with all radon test results less than 4 pCi/l. If only initial radon testing was completed, perform retesting based on the results of the initial testing as specified in the previous paragraph.
For school buildings opened between July 1st, 1994 and June 30th, 1999.
Radon testing of all buildings is required statewide. If no testing was performed, immediately complete 100% testing of ground contact rooms in each building. These rooms will include all rooms that students would be expected to use or visit as part of their normal school experience. Classrooms, offices, fellowship halls, cafeteria, gymnasiums, and clinics are the types of rooms to include. Bathrooms, kitchens, storage, teacher lounges are excluded. Hallways are excluded unless a designated seating area is in the hallway.
If your school is in a county where radon testing is required of post July 1st, 1999 buildings, a follow-up test will be required. Schedule for 5% of the ground contact student used rooms to be tested in each building. This testing shall be performed after five years from the date of the first tests. They should be reported by the end of the sixth year after the date of the tests. If the initial 100% testing was completed, but the retesting was not performed, perform the 5% retest now if it has been five years since the first tests.
For School buildings opened or structurally changed since July 1st, 1999.
Radon testing is required in selected counties. If you are required to test the building, enough rooms shall be tested to include at least 20% of the ground contact rooms in each building. These rooms will include all rooms that students would be expected to use or visit as part of their normal school experience. Classrooms, offices, fellowship halls, cafeteria, gymnasiums, and clinics are the types of rooms to include. Bathrooms, kitchens, storage, teacher lounges are excluded. Hallways are excluded unless a designated seating area is in the hallway. Five percent of the rooms in these facilities must be retested five years later.
RMI Inspections provides radon gas detection by using state of the art CRM continuous radon monitors by Radalink. We are a certified Radon Business Florida License #RB2508 and National Radon Proficiency Program #NRPP ID 107847RT qualified to perform Radon Testing. RMI Inspections meets the new Federal Housing Standards for Radon Testing for HUD & FHA Insured Mortgages which require that the Radon Testing Company be State and National Radon Proficiency Certified. We have provided some links to the State of Florida Health Website on Radon Gas and State of Florida Licensed Approved Radon Measurement Business.