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Radon gas reaches toxic levels at Venice condominiums

You can't see it or smell it. But radon - a naturally occurring radioactive gas that seeps through the ground into homes and condos - can pose serious health threats, especially at high concentrations. It's the leading cause of non-tobacco-related lung cancer and has been linked to other cancers as well, according to the American Cancer Society.

One Florida couple recently discovered that the Venice condo they were renting had radon levels nearly six times higher than recommended. The couple decided to test for radon because the wife was suffering from thyroid cancer. The test revealed that radon was present at 22 picocuries. The recommended safe limit is 4.

Who's responsible for radon mitigation?

While Florida law doesn't require homeowners, property managers or associations to test for radon, it's a good idea to do so. Mitigation measures may be necessary to bring high levels down to acceptable thresholds. However, it's not always clear who's responsible for those measures - which can be costly.

In the case of the Venice couple, they reported the radon to their landlords, who in turn informed the condominium owners association. The association, acting on the advice of legal counsel, ultimately left it up to individual condo owners to test and mitigate their units.

Could high radon levels be the result of construction defects?

In new or refurbished condominium communities, high radon levels could be the result of construction defects. The EPA recommends that builders use radon-resistant construction techniques such as:

  • Installing a 4-inch layer of gravel (or a gravel alternative) beneath the foundation slab to allow gases to circulate
  • Installing a vapor-retarder layer above the gravel to prevent gases from seeping in through the foundation
  • Installing a vent pipe from the gravel out through the roof
  • Properly sealing all crevices and cracks in the foundation
  • Preparing the electrical systems for a vent fan, should one become necessary

If the condominium building contract specified the use of radon-resistant techniques, and the builders failed to use them - or to properly install them - the association may have grounds for pursuing a construction defect claim. Contact the lawyers at Tannenbaum Scro to learn more.

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