Radon Concerns in West Virginia

Radon is a deadly gas that is penetrating homes across the United States by rampant force. The gas is nearly undetectable by human senses, meaning a person can walk into a home and won’t smell, taste, touch, or see the gas. The only way to detect radon is by having a radon test done in your home. There’s a lot to learn about radon and if you live in West Virginia then be rest assured because there are people ready to get rid of the radon in your home!

Radon Basics

Radon gas comes from uranium that can be found in most soil, rock, and sometimes in water. The uranium will over time breakdown and create radon gas, which is toxic when ingested over an extended period of time and in concentrated amounts. Radon gas is everywhere, but when the gas is in a location such as a work office, home, gym, or school, the likelihood of getting sick increases.

Radon is considered to be toxic because it’s a proven carcinogen.

Lung Cancer

Not only does radon tend to damage lung tissue, but it also causes lung cancer. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), radon causes 15 percent of the world’s documented lung cancer cases. The Environmental Protection Agency has also concluded that radon is the cause of 21,000 lung cancer deaths each year.

Even Low Amounts of Radon Can Be Dangerous

Although many people think that they’re home doesn’t have radon, and if it did that it wouldn’t be enough to cause a problem; they could be sadly mistaken. Although many homes are radon-free, that doesn’t mean it’s wise to not have your home tested. There are ways to remove the radon from your home, so if your home has radon it can be eliminated and your livelihood can be protected.

“We know that radon is a carcinogen. This research confirms that breathing low levels of radon can lead to lung cancer,” said Tom Kelly, the director of the EPA’s Indoor Environments Division.

“Most radon-induced lung cancers occur from low and medium dose exposures in people’s homes. Radon is the second most important cause of lung cancer after smoking in many countries,” said Dr. Maria Neira of the WHO.

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In West Virginia

According to the studies performed by Air Chek, Inc., the national average of radon levels in the U.S. is 1.3 pCi/L (Picocuries) and most of the homes in West Virginia maintain a higher level of radon than that! Thankfully, the warning level is 4.0 pCi/L, but as the experts from the EPA and WHO have discovered, even low amounts of radon are toxic.

West Virginia has some pretty high radon levels. In fact, only six of the 50 counties in the state are at a minimal risk of having radon gas in their home. Let’s look at some statistics for some counties in West Virginia. These statistics aren’t meant to scare you, and they don’t prove that your home has radon just because you live in one of these counties or anywhere in West Virginia. In fact, if your neighbor’s home has radon that doesn’t mean that your home has radon. So, the best thing to do is to have your home tested, because the statistics show that there are high levels throughout the state. It’s just best to be safe.

According to the EPA there are three zones for radon levels: high, moderate, and minimal concern. There is a high concern for the counties that lie on the northern and north eastern border of the state. There are six counties in the minimal concern zone: Kanawha, Boone, Logan, Mingo, Wyoming, and McDowell. Every other county is in moderate danger. Here are some examples of each zone beginning with the lower levels to the higher levels.

Kanawha County: 2.8%
Above 4.0 pCi/L – 17%
Between 2-3.9 pCi/L – 29%

Marion County: 3.7 pCi/L
Above 4.0 pCi/L – 31%
Between 2-3.9 pCi/L – 23%

Preston County: 10.3 pCi/L
Above 4.0 pCi/L – 44%
Between 2-3.9 pCi/L – 15%.

Your home’s radon levels can be lessened and you can be saved from the radon toxicity by contacting your local radon mitigation expert. If you want a radon expert to mitigate your home and identify your home’s radon level, be sure to contact Basement Systems of West Virginia. They offer radon mitigation in West Virginia as well as other home improvement services such as basement, crawl space, and foundation repair, as well as basement waterproofing.

Samantha Walton currently works as a web content writer for home improvement sites. She’s a college graduate with a B.A. in communication and a concentration in public relations. She’s aspiring to one day further her education with a seminary degree. Her experience ranges from internships in marketing and public relations, content writing for local television broadcasts, to writing and editing newsletters, fliers, and other content for her local church.

Author: Samantha Walton
Article Source: EzineArticles.com
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Radon Mitigation in Virginia Becomes A Necessity for Homeowners

There’s been a bit of a myth being tossed around about a frog’s reaction to the gradual increase of heat. Some claim that if a frog is placed in warm water that the frog will not attempt to escape even as the water begins to boil-thus, the frog dies. Others say that the frog will not sit still long enough for the water to boil, or that the frog would absolutely notice the change and try to escape.

However, the scenario has been likened to snake rescue, where one expert has said that a snake will rest on a “hot rock” even if the rock becomes extraordinarily hot and eventually kills the snake. Let’s assume this perspective is correct and that some reptiles don’t respond or even recognize an obvious and deadly change in their environment. Does it suffice to say that we as humans may sometimes be unaware of the hazards that slowly develop within the very comforts of our own homes? Some would say, yes.

Radon Enters The Scenario

Many people have died as the result of carbon monoxide poisoning, which has been known to increase over time without an individual even noticing. This is why many states have requirements for carbon monoxide detectors. Radon poisoning can and does have the same ill-fated effects as carbon monoxide poisoning and the reptile stories mentioned above.

Radon is the result of soil’s uranium decay. As this process occurs, polonium is released and this creates radon’s toxicity. Unfortunately, radon commonly goes unnoticed, not because of ignorance but because of the gas’ translucence and ability to go under the human radar.

It is invisible. It has no taste, form or scent. So, it’s not all that uncommon for a person to unknowingly live in a home with extraordinarily high levels of radon. Although radon is quite frightening to discuss, it’s very real and more importantly-it’s easy to fix!

Let’s learn more about the effects of overexposure to radon gas and then we’ll discuss the testing and radon mitigation resources that are available in Virginia.

Radon-The Second Leading Cause of Lung Cancer

By now, the harmful effects of cigarette smoke is no hidden secret, but for many years smoking was part of relaxation and for some, a past time. Smoking cigarettes and living in a home with radon gas has one thing in common- lung cancer.

Smoking is the leading cause of lung cancer and radon gas is the second leading cause of lung cancer. However, radon takes the lead as the leading cause of lung cancer amongst non-smokers. By the simple process of elimination, radon is a killer and just as cigarettes have gotten away with murder, radon is still getting away with over 20 thousand deaths a year in the U.S. alone-according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has documented about 15 percent of the world’s lung cancer cases as being caused by radon poisoning.

Low Radon Levels Are Still Dangerous

It’s easy to think that the worst thing possible could never happen to you; in fact that’s optimism at its best. However, when radon is involved in the equation, optimism can coexist with being proactive and safe. Even if a home has somewhat low, or what is considered to be low risk levels of radon, it’s still a good idea to call a professional to mitigate and get the levels as low as possible.

“We know that radon is a carcinogen. This research confirms that breathing low levels of radon can lead to lung cancer,” said Tom Kelly, the director of the EPA’s Indoor Environments Division.

“Most radon-induced lung cancers occur from low and medium dose exposures in people’s homes. Radon is the second most important cause of lung cancer after smoking in many countries,” said Dr. Maria Neira of the WHO.

Radon Levels in Virginia

According to the studies performed by Air Chek, Inc., the national average of radon levels in the U.S. is 1.3 pCi/L (Picocuries) and potentially more than 70 percent of the counties in Virginia maintain a level of radon even higher than 1.3.

Although the EPA has defined 4.0 pCi/L as the “requires action” level, many organizations including the WHO have found that even low levels of radon can be problematic, as we’ve already learned.

Virginia, like West Virginia, has many counties harboring very high levels of radon. However, Virginia is looking a bit better than West Virginia that only has six of the 50 counties with a minimal risk of radon. Meanwhile, Virginia has just below 50 percent of the counties in danger and about a quarter of the excess counties in moderate danger.

Though shocking and even a little scary, these numbers don’t define your home’s levels. In fact, you could have low levels of radon. But, regardless of the level, you want to know your family is safe. The best way to do that is to have your home tested for radon and to be sure to have annual checkups to be sure your mitigation system is working efficiently. As the earth’s soil changes, climate and your home changes, the radon levels can also adjust either by increasing or decreasing over time. That’s why it’s important to work with an expert in minimizing the radon levels in your home.

The EPA has defined three defining zones for radon levels: high, moderate and minimal concern. It appears that the southeast counties of Virginia have maintained a minimal risk as the rest of the state varies between high and moderate concern.

Here are three examples of Virginia counties with different levels of radon.

Southampton County is considered to be at low risk with 11% high concern, 21% moderate and 69% low.

Wise County is considered moderate risk with 38% high, 18% moderate and 52% low.

Lee County is considered at high risk with 41% high, 15% moderate and 44% low.

Although these all have different overall averages, each county has a percent of homes with high radon levels. This means that all homeowners regardless of the county should have their home checked for radon. What are your levels?

Your home’s radon levels can be lessened and you can be saved from the radon toxicity by contacting your local radon mitigation expert.

If you want a Virginia radon expert to mitigate your home and identify your home’s radon level, be sure to contact Evergreen Basement Systems. They offer radon mitigation in Virginia as well as other home improvement services such as basement, crawl space, and foundation repair, and basement waterproofing.

Samantha Walton currently works as a web content writer for home improvement sites. She’s a college graduate with a B.A. in communication and a concentration in public relations. She’s aspiring to one day further her education with a seminary degree. Her experience ranges from internships in marketing and public relations, content writing for local television broadcasts, to writing and editing newsletters, fliers, and other content for her local church.

Author: Samantha Walton
Article Source: EzineArticles.com
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Home Radon Gas: How to Detect and Use Testing Kits

Radon is a colorless, odorless, tasteless radioactive gas that occurs naturally. It is a chemical element existing as a by-product of the natural decay of uranium, an element in the ground that been around since the earth was formed therefore it is found in low levels everywhere. When radon becomes trapped in buildings, concentrations can increase in indoor air and radon exposure then becomes a concern.

We need to be very much alert that radon is a deadly gas. It is one of the leading cause of lung cancer in the United States, only second to cigarette smoking which is the number one responsible for lung cancer deaths. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Surgeon General have strongly recommended that all residences (except those above the 2nd floor in multi-level buildings) be tested for radon. Needless to say, smokers with high levels of radon in the home has much greater risk of getting lung cancer.

How Radon Gets in Home
Uranium is a radioactive element that decays and forms radium which gives off radon gas, it then travels up through the ground and infiltrates the water and air we breathe. When it reaches the surface of the ground, the gas can go directly into the air where it does not usually do any damage, or it can seep into a building where it collects and causes health problems.

Some parts of the US are more susceptible to radon gas than others. The difference between the higher pressure in the soil around your home’s foundation and the lower air pressure inside your home makes your house act like vacuum, that radon gas gets drawn in through cracks, open seams, holes and just about any openings below the surface of the ground.

Since radon may also presents in well water, it can be released into the air in your home via showering water and other household water uses, though the risk is small compared to the radon amount entered from the soil. For small number of homes, the building materials may also give off radon gas, although they rarely cause problems alone.

Methods to Detect Radon Level
You have to perform a test in order to find out if radon is in a building. That is the only way. The EPA recommends two ways of testing:

Short-Term or Passive Testing – This is the cheapest and quickest way. Depending on the device you choose, they can remain in your home for 2 to 90 days. Charcoal canisters, electret ion chamber, continuous monitors and charcoal liquid scintillation detectors are most commonly used in short term testing. Because radon levels tend to vary from day to day and season to season, a short term test offers a less conclusive evaluation than a long term test. For quickest yet firmer results, do a short term test followed by another passive test as such.

Many types of low cost short term “do it yourself” radon test kits are available in hardware stores and home centers. Make sure to buy a test kit that has passed EPA’s testing program or is state certified. You should see phrase like “Meets EPA Requirements” displayed on the kits. They are quite inexpensive.

Long Term or Active Testing – This is a more expensive way and the testing kit has to be remained in the home for more than 90 days. There are two types of commonly used test kits: Alpha track and electret detectors. A long term test gives you a reading that is most likely to tell your home’s year round average radon level. Radon gas detectors that monitor gas levels on a continuous basis are also available.

Hire an EPA qualified or state certified radon tester if you prefer, some lenders may require certified test results to close the transaction when buying or selling a home.

How to Use a Radon Test Kit
Always follow the instructions that come with the test kit. Place the radon test kit in the lowest living space of the property. It should be put in a room that is used regularly, but not your kitchen or bathroom. Put the kit at least 20 inches above the floor in a location where it won’t be disturbed. Keep it away from drafts, high heat, high humidity and exterior walls. Leave the kit in place for as long as the package says, do not take away earlier than that. When finished testing, reveal the package, send it to the package specified lab directly. Normally you should receive the results within a couple of weeks.

Note that if you are doing a very short test that lasts only 2-3 days, be sure to close your windows and outside doors at least 12 hours in advance; for longer period of testing, keep the windows and outside doors as much as possible during the test. Keep in mind: Do Not conduct 2 to 3-day passive tests during severe storms or unusually high winds. The results will not be accurate.

Interpreting Test Results
The amount of radon in the air is generally measured in picocuries of radon per liter of air (pCi/l), or may be expressed in Working Levels (WL) sometimes. Based on the EPA standards, amount of radon that is higher than 4 pCi/l or 0.002 WL is considered too high that corrective measures should be taken to fix the problem. If your initial short term test result is higher than 4 pCi/l or 0.002 WL, the EPA recommends that you take a second test to be sure. For a better understanding of the radon levels in your home, taking a long term test is recommended.

Any radon exposure carries some risk, even the levels below EPA set standard. So lower the radon amount sometimes is necessary. This would be in the next hub – Radon Reduction Techniques.

(c)Copyrighted: You may freely republish this article as long as author bio and active hyperlinks are included.

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Radon – The Invisible Killer

Radon is a colorless, tasteless, naturally occurring radioactive gas found in soil and rock that is a by-product of decaying uranium. You might be thinking, I’ve heard of uranium, don’t they make bombs from that? Well, yes they do, but uranium occurs naturally in rocks all around the globe. Some areas have a natural propensity to have higher concentrations of uranium than others.

Why radon is dangerous

We are all walking around with a bit of radiation in our bodies, and radon is by far the largest contributor to a person’s overall amount of radiation they are carrying around. Breathing high doses of radon has been scientifically proven to cause lung cancer. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, radon could be the second most frequent cause of lung cancer, after cigarette smoking causing 21,000 lung cancer deaths per year in the United States. Radon-induced lung cancer ranks as the 6th leading cause of cancer deaths overall. Other forms of cancer may be related to radon exposure. Studies are underway to see if there exists a relationship between radon exposure and leukemia.

Where radon is

Remember radon gas is formed as a by-product of soil containing granite or shale (the two of which carry larger than average amounts of uranium). But we’re talking very small amounts. On average, every square mile of surface soil, to a depth of 6 inches, contains only 1 gram of radium which is responsible for releasing radon into the atmosphere. Worldwide, the amount of radon varies greatly and is variable within a given region and even from room to room in a house.

Is radon in my home?

Radon exits the ground and can seep into your home through cracks and holes in the foundation. Radon gas can also contaminate well water. We know that radon concentrations are usually higher in areas near major fault lines so in Southern California we should be aware and take the proper precautions.

Knowing the characteristics of radon gas should help protect you and your family from exposure. First, radon gas being heavier than air tends to settle in low lying areas. With adequate ventilation, radon gas cannot become concentrated to a level to cause harm. On the other hand, in enclosed areas such as inside buildings, basements and crawl spaces, radon gas levels can become harmful. Second, if you smoke, stop! The effects of radon exposure in people that smoke is synergistic; i.e. the effect of smoking coupled with higher than average levels of radon exposure is greater than the sum of the two parts measured separately.

The EPA claims that 1 in 15 U.S. homes has radon levels above the recommended guideline. Their guideline of what is acceptable is roughly equivalent to receiving 200 chest x-rays over one’s lifetime. Their current recommendation (and that of the US Surgeon General) is that all homes be monitored for radon levels.

How to test for radon

Home kits are available in most home centers but it is claimed that their results might not be reliable. A better option would be to hire a professional home inspector with experience in radon testing. Professional tests are reliable in determining if your home has areas in it where radon levels are above the threshold set forth by the EPA. The tests are non-invasive and begin by placing a measurement device near the floor on the lower level of the home. Additional tests may be recommended by the inspector if you have any granite surfaces in your home, like a kitchen countertop. Other than placing the collection devices where recommended, nothing is done. There are some specific instructions that you must follow regarding the testing site(s) like keeping the windows and doors shut as much as possible. Testing may have to be postponed if your area is experiencing high winds or a pending storm, or if humidity levels are high (all of which may adversely affect the test results).

The inspector will return in 2-7 days to collect the devices after which time they are sent to a lab for analysis. Results are usually available shortly thereafter.

How to remove radon

The EPA recommends you use mitigation (control) techniques to reduce indoor radon if levels in your home are above the recommended threshold. Mitigation methods include adding positive pressure ventilation in your home which effectively creates a pressure differential (higher pressure in your home, gas cannot flow in). Sealing all floor penetrations to help prevent the gas from seeping into your home from below is also a good idea. Be advised that ventilating your basement or crawl space IS NOT RECOMMENDED as some people suggest. This flawed mitigation technique practiced by many companies could have the adverse effect of bringing more radon gas in which naturally exists outside the footprint of your home’s foundation.

Homebuyers: be sure to read this

If you are in the process of purchasing a home ask your Realtor to include a radon contingency in your offer to purchase. This clause states the maximum level of radon that is acceptable to you and your family. Afterwards, hire a company to survey the home for radon gas levels. Radon testing is offered by most professional home inspection companies so be sure to ask this question when interviewing home inspectors in your area. If radon levels are found to be above the levels set by you in your contingency, this clause will afford you the right to back out of the contract without penalty.

Facts to remember about radon gas

  • Just because your next door neighbor’s house has tested high for radon gas does not mean your home is at risk.
  • Houses with basements are not at a higher risk for radon than houses without basements.
  • Radon levels vary region to region, and even from house to house on the same street.

This article is free to copy and use on your website or other publication providing the information below is included in your article.

Darin Redding is owner of Housecall Property Inspections, a professional San Diego Home Inspection company. Original Article Source: Radon San Diego

Author: Darin Redding
Article Source: EzineArticles.com
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