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Realtors, DES reach deal on new radon guidelines

Agency agrees to ease what were strictest recommendations in the nation

By Jeff Feingold

Published: March 23, 2016

Screen Shot 2016 03 31 at 3.36.59 PMThe NH Association of Realtors and the state Department of Environmental Services have reached an agreement on how homeowners are told about the risks of finding radon in their drinking water.

Previously, information provided by the agency recommended that consider taking action on radon when levels reached more than 2,000 picocuries per liter of well water – the strictest guideline in the nation.

Under the agreement, DES will advise homeowners to seek treatment if more than 10,000 picocuries of radon is found in their water. The agency will also suggest that if levels are between 2,000 and 10,000 picocuries treatment would be “advisable,” depending on how much radon there is in the air.

New Hampshire’s guidelines were five times lower than those in Maine and Massachusetts, according to the NH Association of Realtors, which had been pushing for the change and supported Senate Bill 311. The bill would require the agency follow U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s lead on radon mitigation. The EPA has not issued guidance on the safe level of radon in drinking water.

As part of the deal, NHAR has agreed to stop lobbying for passage of SB 311.

Al Michalovic, president of the NHAR and a Realtor with Four Seasons Sotheby International Realty in West Lebanon, called the agreement a “win for consumers who will now be much better educated about the health impacts of radon in the air.”

He said the association “has spent over a year trying to work with DES to alter their guidance, which we believed was misleading consumers into spending thousands of dollars on unnecessary repairs to their well water,” said

“I think that this will give folks a clearer message for those who need a bright line a single number to focus on,” Paul Susca of the DES Water Division told NH Public Radio. “It will give them that number, 10,000. And for those who have the time to understand a more nuanced message we still have that 2,000 to 10,000 range.”

The new guidance can be found here.

This article appears in the April 1 2016 issue of New Hampshire Business Review


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