CONCORD–In a sweeping victory for consumers, the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services (DES) has conceded to an New Hampshire Association of REALTORS (NHAR) request that the Department alter their consumer guidance on radon in water. The DES concession came after more than a year of discussions with NHAR and a legislative hearing this month, which included numerous Realtors testifying for improved guidance.
For well over a decade, New Hampshire had the nation’s strictest guidance to consumers regarding the level at which it was advisable to mitigate radon in the water. New Hampshire had 2,000 pCi/L advisory level, whereas Maine and Massachusetts use a 10,000 pCi/L actionable level; Vermont, New York and Rhode Island use EPA guidance, which does not have a specific number.
In fact, 49 other states, the Environmental Protection Agency, the World Health Organization and the Center for Disease Control all had significantly less restrictive guidance on radon then does New Hampshire.
Based on EPA recommendations, NHAR believed DES was misleading consumers into spending thousands of dollars on unnecessary mitigation to their well water. Earlier this month, the issue came to a head with a hearing on NHAR-sponsored SB 311 in the State Senate. The bill would have forced DES to align its guidance with that of our neighboring states.
After a lengthy and successful Senate hearing, which included numerous testimonials by Realtors, DES agreed to alter its guidance if NHAR would agree to abandon its support of SB 311.
The new guidance emphasizes that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency believes the inhalation of radon in air poses a much greater risk than radon in water. Further, the EPA advises that homeowners test their airborne radon in the home, as this presents the greater risk.
Previous DES guidance implied that the risk of radon in water was comparable to the air. It is not, and this new guidance makes that point clear.
The new DES recommendations for radon in the water include the following:
For private wells with radon concentrations at or above 10,000 pCi/L, the treatment of water is recommended in conjunction with mitigation of indoor air radon. Homeowners should consult with radon mitigation and water treatment providers.
For private wells with radon concentrations between 2,000 and 10,000 pCi/L, the treatment of water may be advisable if air concentrations in the home exceed 4 pCi/L.
When radon in well water is below 4,000 pCi/L, it is recommended to retest air and water every three to five years.
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