Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Lightning rods, Antioxidants and Radon Levels

Lets talk about radon and its implication on selling homes. Every home buyer has the right to inspect the property they are purchasing. Most home inspectors are geared towards inspecting the plumbing, electric, hvac, appliances and the roof. The first four on this list are referred to as warranted items. They have implication with home insurers. If you are getting a loan you certainly must have all these items in proper working condition to obtain property insurance.

There are some home inspectors that stress the importance of getting the home inspected for radon levels. Some of these inspectors also will advise you that they are licensed to mitigate radon levels. I would suggest that you turn away from such offers. You do not want the same person who discovered the problem, repairing the problem. That, at a bare minimum, represents a conflict of interest, in my opinion.

Radon is a naturally occurring substance that emanates from the earth's crust. It is perfectly innocuous until you build a structure over it and encapsulate the gas under a roof. It is measurable and the inspectors do a good job of convincing you that it puts you at risk. Anything over 4.0 Picocuries per liter of air is considered to be high. The mitigation process involves drilling your slab and putting in some sort of apparatus that uses PVC pipes and fans to vent the radon out of your home. The cost can run into the thousands. of dollars.

I was raised in southern West Virginia. I spent much of my early life living in an old farm house that was built in the late 1800's. I recall several drummers coming by our place and pitching my father on the benefits of lightning rods. The Consumer Price Index was at its inception in those days so dollars then compared to dollars now put the modern cost to install at thousands. I never understood the process nor the science behind it. I do know that Benjamin Franklin discovered electricity by playing with lightning. I also remember learning along the way that no one has ever really defined electricity. It can only be defined by what it does. I only recall that the sale of lightning rods has always been on the edge of science and been subject to many congressional investigations.

I do remember that a neighbor of ours installed lightning rods and I was awakened one evening after a severe thunder storm. My mother was standing out on the front porch watching the neighbor's home burning to the ground, lightning rods and all.

A few years ago I had an acquaintance ask me to stop by his office. He had something that he wanted to show me. I did so. There sitting on his desk was a little apparatus that looked sort of like a glucometer. He told me to put my finger in to the little hole allowing that. I did so. He pressed a button and a number appeared on the screen and a little piece of tape printed the number out. He presented the tape to me and advised me that my antioxidant level was low. The accepted norm was 10,000 and mine was at 7,500. He then advised me that I should be on a regimen of the vitamins that he sold that would build up my antioxidants and do something with the free radicals floating around in my blood stream. The Utah based company he got these magic elixirs from had a whole line of vitamins that would fix me up.

I said hold on for just a moment. What does that number mean? He responded with what do you mean what does it mean? I said well if you take my blood pressure you will get  numbers that represent millimeters of mercury over baseline telling me that I have high systolic and diastolic pressure or normal pressure. The mean is 120/80. If you take a drop of my blood and measure the clotting time you will get a number representing clotting time ( PTT). Normal is 21 seconds. So what is this apparatus measuring and how? He just shook his head and answered a phone call. I left wondering how much money I could make selling Nuskin products.

If you look at the websites for The American Cancer Society and The American Lung Association they will mention that radon is the second leading cause of cancer. They also point out that radon is associated with about 20,000 deaths each year. Smoking cigarettes causes 480,000 deaths per year. If you divide 350 million citizens into the radon group you get an incidence rate of .000057. That would amount to 5.7 deaths per 100,000 people. Smoking would cause 136.8 deaths per 100,000. Putting all that into perspective tobacco smoking causes 24 times the deaths of radon.

Now please tell me what the radon level is at the place where you work?  What is it at that school you send your child to? What is it where you go to church?

If it  is an issue to you then you should exercise your options to measure it and act upon it. I had a client who is a cancer researcher at our local university. When I mentioned to him in the buyers disclosure about radon he looked at me and smiled and squelched a belly laugh. He ordered some test kits for about $2 apiece through a scientific company he used and tested the home himself. I cannot remember the levels but he signed the paperwork and moved into the home. That was almost 20 years ago.

As with all consumer issues a good dose of caveat emptor is a good way to proceed.

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