Powell could join a handful of other central Ohio communities in requiring all new homes and businesses to have radon-mitigation systems.
City Council on June 4 heard the first reading of an ordinance that, if approved, would bring the city's code in line with those of the International Code Council's residential requirements.
The ICC is a nonprofit organization aimed at developing comprehensive national model construction codes.
Dublin, Pickerington and Union County are among the communities in central Ohio that have similar regulations, City Manager Steve Lutz said.
"There are a few communities in central Ohio that require radon mitigation in new construction," Lutz said. "The cost to a homebuilder to install this is about $1,000."
Existing homes and businesses would not be impacted by the change to city code.
Radon is a colorless, odorless gas that occurs naturally from uranium and radium found in rocks and soil, according to the Ohio Department of Health. It enters buildings through the floor, walls, utility openings and foundation cracks.
Radon is a known carcinogen and is the leading cause of lung cancer among nonsmokers, according to the U.S. Surgeon General.
Indoor radon levels are recommended to be no greater than 4 picocuries per liter, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, but the gas is prevalent in Ohio.
Radon testing and mitigation often is part of the inspection process when purchasing an existing home. Requiring ventilation systems on new construction is a public health issue, said Powell council member Brendan Newcomb, who introduced the measure in February and has a radon-mitigation system in his own home.
"It's the naturally occurring gas from what we're sitting on here in central Ohio, which is granite and shale," Newcomb said. "A lot of people now are putting this system in after the fact. We got our home tested and it came up at a 17 (picocuries per liter). We installed the system and it took it down to a level 1. This nips it in the bud."
Elevated levels of radon have been found in each of the state's 88 counties, and the department of health recommends all homeowners test for radon.
Under the proposal, Powell would require a "passive" sub-slab depressurization system. A more-expensive "active" system includes a blower fan and requires electrical service at the vent pipe.
For more information on radon, visit epa.gov/radon.
The city is expected to vote on the measure at its next meeting, scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, June 19, at the Village Green Municipal Building, 47 Hall St.