May, 2018
Inspection News and Views from the American Society of Home Inspectors



You Tell Us

ASHI STAFF

With regard to the proposed Radon Standard, did you realize that a Radon Mitigation System (RMS) is the very first corrective measure for which ASHI is attempting to establish an evaluation standard?

And not just any corrective measure – but a corrective measure that must ELIMINATE a KNOWN EXISTING deadly risk (e.g., 21,000 deaths annually due to radon [per EPA])

ASHI is stepping into unchartered territory with the proposed Radon Mitigation System Inspection Standard and the scope of such a standard is quite different from previous ASHI standards.

All previous items in the ASHI Standard of Practice (SoP) have dealt with the status of components and systems required for habitation (e.g., a sound/stable structure; exterior surfaces providing moisture and thermal protection; means of egress; daylight/ventilation and escape/rescue openings; sufficient plumbing, HVAC and electrical; habitable spaces).

Present ASHI standards help the inspector to find and report on both existing and potential risks (e.g., water intrusion, fire hazards, structural concerns, lead-based paint/asbestos hazards, unsanitary conditions, unsafe HVAC or electrical, insufficient egress and/or fire/rescue openings, mold and mold-conducive conditions). It is also true that existing ASHI standards DO NOT address the evaluation of corrective measures (e.g., repairs, mitigations, remediations, abatements).

Such an SoP should address ways to minimize misrepresentation or misinterpretation of a corrective measure. In this case, with the Radon Standard, there should be wording to prevent or discourage the inference that radon is not a concern if the dwelling passed the RMS inspection or that a satisfactory RMS inspection means that radon remedies have been satisfied.

Perhaps at the top of every page, the RMS report could state that the inspection and report DOES NOT determine whether the corrective system is reducing radon levels in the building.  It could state that, per  the EPA, “Testing is the only way to find out your home’s radon levels.” And the EPA recommends that a home should be fixed “if the radon level is 4 picocuries per liter (pCi/L) or higher” and “Radon levels less than 4 pCi/L still pose a risk and, in many cases, may be reduced.”

Furthermore, the SoP should identify and describe the type of corrective remedy or system that is being inspected, and the SoP should also identify and address the necessary components for each type of remedy or system.

For example, the EPA’s Consumer’s Guide to Radon Reduction describes no less than eight different types of radon mitigation systems. Unfortunately, the proposed ASHI Radon Standard partially addresses only half of these systems and is entirely inadequate for inspecting the remainder. It appears that the ASHI process or protocol for developing or revising a standard is flawed and not adequate for the task.

Considering that there are thousands of agencies, organizations and manufacturers constantly writing standards of practice, there is no valid reason why ASHI cannot hire knowledgeable professionals to establish effective protocols and procedures for researching, preparing, vetting and determining the viability of a proposed standard before it is offered for consideration to the membership.

At the present time, the Radon Standard is nowhere near ready for consideration.  I strongly suspect that most ASHI members lack sufficient knowledge about installing the various types of radon mitigation systems to realize how inadequate this proposed standard is.  I also suspect that many ASHI members believe that ASHI would never offer such a weak, inadequate standard for their consideration.

I am asking ASHI members to reject the proposed Radon Standard.  If you have already voted acceptance, please email ASHI stating you want to change your vote to NO.

Sincerely, Larry Wasson, Member #201

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The Standards Committee appreciates Mr. Wasson’s comments about the ASHI Auxiliary Standard of Professional Practice for Inspecting Radon Mitigation Systems (Radon Standard).

As part of the standards development process, the committee conducted a comment period that was communicated by several means including in the Reporter, on the ASHI website, on the ASHI and other discussion boards, and in electronic communications such as First Thing. Mr. Wasson’s comments would have been more helpful during the comment period, rather than during the voting process.

The Standards Committee worked with several members and groups with experience in radon measurement and radon mitigation systems, including AARST. The Radon Standard is based in large part on the ANSI/AARST Soil Gas Mitigation Standards for Existing Homes. As such, the committee believes that the Radon Standard is technically sound.

Industry and government groups that are aware of the Radon Standard are excited about it, and look forward to its adoption by ASHI. These groups include AARST, NRAP (National Radon Action Plan) and the state of North Carolina.

The Radon Standard is a compromise and, like most compromises, it will not satisfy everyone. The Standards Committee, the ASHI Board of Directors, and several industry and government entities believe that the Radon Standard, along with additional inspector training, are good first steps toward addressing the radon problem in buildings. We urge ASHI voting members to vote YES and approve the Radon Standard.

Tom Lauhon, ASHI Standards Committee Chair
Bruce Barker, ASHI Treasurer and Board Liaison to the Standards Committee