Category Archives: About Radon

what is radon? how was it discovered? how it effects your health? … and more

Air Quality Hits Close to Home

Summer time brings with it carefree days by the pool, picnics in the park and . . .

Air Quality Advisories warning you to stay indoors?

The real question is this: are you really any safer indoors?

On those hot days, when you are forced indoors by the air quality index warnings, chances are that you are shutting yourself into an equally noxious indoor environment. During the summer months, the EPA makes a daily calculation of how much pollution is in the air. Certain elements like ozone, particles (pollen, dust, etc), the overall temperature of the air and the amount of UV exposure are measured to determine how much of a combined hazard is created. If one of more of these elements are higher than would be safe, it usually is advisable to spend the day indoors.

An overlooked factor in the EPA’s advise to stay indoors is the quality of your indoor air. Statistics have shown that very few people understand just how hazardous your indoor air can be. You typically spend 90% of your day indoors, whether you are at work, at school or at home, and the truth is that you encounter far more dangerous conditions indoors. Apparently 80-90% of all the pesticides that come in contact with your body do so inside your home. Simple house-hold appliances like gas stoves or gas water heaters can cause carbon monoxide poisoning-this condition is commonly overlooked because of its cold or flu-like symptoms. This means that part of the problem with indoor pollution is that no one is aware of the full extent of the danger or able to detect or indentify the symptoms of bad indoor air quality.

Some Unsavory Things Found in Your Indoor Air:

  • Formaldehyde is a chemical compound that is found in adhesive or bonding agents used in the construction of furniture. It is also emitted by carpet, upholstery, particle board and plywood.
  • Radon is a colorless, odorless gas that is naturally occurring and can enter your house through basements and crawlspaces. It is estimate that one in every 15 homes has radon levels that merit immediate action (according to the EPA). Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer (smoking is the primary cause of lung cancer).
  • Biological pollutants are naturally occurring in your home or are easily brought inside from the outdoors. These include molds, bacteria, viruses, pollen, dust mites and animal dander. Large amounts of these elements can make even a healthy person experience irritation or develop allergic sensitivities.
  • Molds are responsible for a number of health conditions ranging from asthma to cancer. The result of mold exposure varies depending on the amount of mold spores in the air and the variety of mold that produced them. There are even a few varieties of mold that can enter your body, causing disastrous health problems.
  • Carbon Monoxide is a colorless, odorless gas that interferes with how oxygen is distributed throughout your body. The carbon monoxide in your home comes from anything that uses gas, fuel or wood. These appliances include fuel burning stoves, furnaces, fireplaces, heaters, water heaters and dryers.
  • Nitrogen Dioxide is a colorless, odorless gas that is also produced by fuel burning elements in your home, just like the appliances listed above that also produce carbon monoxide.
  • Asbestos products are found in many homes in roofing and flooring materials, wall and pipe insulation, spackling compounds, cement, coating materials, heating equipment and acoustic insulation. The potential problems arise as these elements deteriorate with age or are disturbed and become airborne.
  • Environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) is another name for second hand smoke. This is a very familiar pollutant to many people-but if you have lived with ETS for many years, you are at just as much risk for developing health problems as people who are smokers.
  • Everyday cleaning supplies, personal care products, paints, pesticides, hobby products and solvents represent a huge group of potentially dangerous chemicals. These chemicals are responsible for causing anything from dizziness and nausea, to allergic reactions and even to cancer.

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What Can You Do to Protect Yourself?

  1. Be aware of the potential hazards in your home, work or school. For example: damp areas are prone to molds; houses with adjoined garages may cause carbon monoxide to enter the house, etc. It’s not good to be paranoid, but be aware of potentially harmful indoor environments.
  2. Be aware of the health symptoms linked to poor indoor air quality and inform your health provider if you have any reason to suspect that an illness may be attributed to air pollution.
  3. Have the air inside your home tested. There are many do-it-yourself test kits that are available, but some air contaminants can only be detected by specialized equipment that can costs hundreds or thousands of dollars. Consult a professional to have you air thoroughly tested.
  4. Install an air purification system. One way to temper any potential hazards is to be proactive. An air purification system that has HEPA filters (like those made by Dynamic Air Cleaners) is very effective at removing any harmful particulates. As for other contaminants, such as gases and odors, viruses and bacteria or mold spores, utilizing a ultra violet air purifier will neutralize any concerns. Both Biozone air purifiers and Air Oasis air purifiers use this technology. Consider installing a whole house air purifier system, so that your home can be a safe haven from unhealthy air quality.
  5. Consider installing carbon monoxide detectors as well as smoke detectors.
  6. The Quality of Your Air determines the Quality of Your Life!

    To check your current outdoor Air Quality Index (AQI), check out http://www.AirNow.gov

Visit My Air Purifier for straight talk and no hype about what air purifiers and air cleaners work best for allergies, asthma, smoke removal and more. We specialize in both commercial and residential air cleaners and purifiers.

Get fast, friendly advice from a certified indoor air quality professional.

http://www.my-air-purifier.com

Author: Dan Buglio
Article Source: EzineArticles.com
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Is There an Effective Well Water Filter?

Bringing well water into your house puts lots of responsibility on the home owner. With the number of contaminants that may be in the water supply it is a necessity to do comprehensive research on well water filters.

The first step before you go out and look at any well water filters is to get a chemical analysis done on your water. This is easily done by taking a water sample down to the nearest certified water testing laboratory in your area. Just by searching on the internet you can find your state certification officer by visiting the U.S. EPA Web site.

If you’re lucky, in some areas your local health department may do the testing for free. Now armed with information you can now make some informed decisions about well water filters.

One of the most common naturally occurring kinds of pollution found in well water were organisms such as viruses, bacteria and other microorganisms. The good news is that these creatures only typically occur after flooding and during the spring runoff. So they are not present in the well water throughout the year

The bad news is that these organism can cause a variety of physical illnesses. Diarrhea and nausea are the most typical reactions that a person drinking one of these microorganisms would have. The effects are usually short lived but quite acute.

To remove these microorganisms, it’s important to have a well water filter that uses a sub micron filter for removing these and other microscopic organisms that may be in the well. It’s hard to believe but another commonly occurring element in the water supply is radon. Radon is a by product of decaying uranium. This element occurs as a gas but some areas may find this in their well water.

There is no need to panic if radon does turn up in the water supply. The main concern if it is inhaled into the lungs. A carbon based water filter is the simplest solution for removing this substance from the water supply.

So you can see that by simply investigating in systems that have both a sub micron and carbon based filters associated with them, you will be assured of purchasing an effective filtration system.

Your next step is to take what you have learned about well water filters and continue your research. The only way that you can make an informed decision is to know all the facts first. By being informed you can feel confident that your purchase will be right for you and your family.

Kim Schatz is a passionate researcher of water purity issues that affect our health and well-being. He articulates his opinion at the [http://www.safe-pure-water.com] website. To learn about water purification systems that Kim recommends after extensive product investigation, visit [http://www.safe-pure-water.com] today.

Author: Kim Schatz
Article Source: EzineArticles.com
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Pros & Cons of Various House Foundations

Slab, Crawlspace or Basement? When building a new home, which foundation is the best choice? I offer the pros & cons of the typical three choices.

Slab:

Pros:
– Least expensive to build
– No moisture/humidity to deal with under sub-floor
– Easy access for handicapped or senior persons, since very close to ground level

Cons:
– Hard surface, takes a toll on your body/joints
– Difficult to run additional wires/pipes
– HVAC typically located in the attic (unconditioned space)
– A leak in a water supply line in the slab is very expensive to fix
– Entrance at ground level, not as eye appealing
– High likelihood of radon issue (can be easily mitigated)
– More prone to wood destroying insect issues, since close to ground

Crawlspace:

Pros:
– Able to install additional wires/piping easily if needed
– Wood floor structure is softer than concrete
– Entrance higher off ground, more eye appealing
– Easy access for repairs
– Less likely to have a radon issue (on ventilated crawlspaces)

Cons:
– Moisture issues (water & humidity) are a major issues, creates fungus growth & rot
– Easy access for unwanted pests
– HVAC in unconditioned space

Basement:

Pros:
– Able to install additional wires/piping easily if needed
– Wood floor structure is softer than concrete
– Easy access for repairs
– Entrance higher off ground, more eye appealing
– HVAC is located in conditioned space (more energy efficient)
– Additional storage/workshop
– Inexpensive additional square footage, can be finished at a later time
– Increased re-sale value of home & increased buyer appeal
– You can build on a sloping grade
– Provides shelter during extreme weather (tornado’s, hurricane’s, etc)

Cons:
– Most expensive to build (compared to a slab or crawlspace)
– Need a sloping lot to build a walkout basement
– Higher likelihood of radon issue (can be easily mitigated)

Mac has remodeled many old homes, been employed in several different construction trades & is a major do-it-yourselfer. He currently owns a home inspection company and has been inspecting homes for many years which is where my experience is most relevant to the proper way to build a home. To learn more about building your dream home, visit my website, http://www.house-building-tips.net

Author: Mac Barlow
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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Author: Jacklyn Chen
Article Source: EzineArticles.com
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Maine Mortgage – What to Expect When Buying a Home in Maine

Maybe you’re buying your first home in Maine, or perhaps you’re relocating to Maine from another state. Either way, it’s important that you educate yourself on Maine home loans before shopping for a home and mortgage. This article explains what you’ll need to know before buying a home in Maine:

The median price of a home in Maine is $98,700. Recently, homes in Maine have been appreciating at rates comparable to the national average. However, in some parts of Maine, appreciation rates are at an all time high. As a result, income levels in many parts of Maine are too low to purchase a median-priced home with a conventional loan. In fact, homeowners in many Maine cities pay more than the recommended 30% of their incomes toward housing.

The state of Maine does not regulate home radon levels. This means that home buyers must test for radon levels in the home they are purchasing and decide for themselves how much radon is acceptable in their home. Additionally, Maine has certain state environmental laws that are used to upkeep Maine’s shoreline.

Maine law prohibits prepayment penalties and reduced rate options on adjustable-rate mortgages and fixed-period adjustable-rate mortgages. Fixed-period adjustable rate mortgages are only allowed in the state of Maine if the start rate is below the indexed rate at loan closing.

Maine’s Truth-In-Lending law is an anti-predatory lending law that prohibits high-rate high-fee mortgages from charging defaults in excess of 5% of the default amount and limits the fees that may be charged during multiple refinancing, deferrals, and extensions of these mortgages. The Bureau of Financial Institutions and Office of Consumer Credit Regulation preside over lenders that issue high-rate high-fee mortgages.

Jessica Elliott recommends that you visit Mortgage Lenders Plus.com for more information about Maine Mortgage Rates and Loans.

Author: Jessica Elliott
Article Source: EzineArticles.com
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Minnesota Mortgage – What to Expect When Buying a Home in Minnesota

Maybe you’re buying your first home in Minnesota, or perhaps you’re relocating to Minnesota from another state. Either way, it’s important that you educate yourself on Minnesota home loans before shopping for a home and mortgage. This article explains what you’ll need to know before buying a home in Minnesota:

The median price of a home in Minnesota is $122,400. The price of homes in Minnesota varies widely between zip codes. For example, in Minneapolis, Minnesota, the median price of a home in the summer of 2005 was $320,000; however, in Plymouth, Minnesota, the median price of a home was $214,000, and in Forest Lake, Minnesota, it was $225,000. Average interest and job growth rates in South Dakota are both below the national average.

Minnesota law prohibits the financing of points and fees on a mortgage that are more than 5% of the loan amount. Additionally, Minnesota limits the ownership of agricultural land to U.S. citizens and permanent residents, and corporations owned at least 80% by U.S. citizens and permanent residents.

The state of Minnesota does not regulate home radon levels. This means that home buyers must test for radon levels in the home they are purchasing and decide for themselves how much radon is acceptable in their home.

Jessica Elliott recommends that you visit Mortgage Lenders Plus.com for more information about Minnesota Mortgage Rates and Loans.

Author: Jessica Elliott
Article Source: EzineArticles.com
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What Must be Disclosed in a Real Estate Transaction?

On the surface, disclosure might seem very basic. A potential buyer is entitled to know when the house was originally built, what materials the roof is made out of and how many square feet the house and property are. Though these are all important facts to know regarding your purchase of a home, there is much more information that must be disclosed.

A buyer is entitled to seller disclosures, including material facts, deaths on the property and recent repairs. In addition, there are Property Disclosure Statements required by law in most states. This is a statement the seller must complete. In California, the Property Disclosure Statement is required by Civil Code and is called a Transfer Disclosure Statement.

A home buyer is also entitled to paperwork called he HUD-1. This is a settlement statement showing line item charges. The HUD-1 was created in an effort to simplify the disclosure of closing costs and it does so line by line so that the parties to the transaction are aware of all charges.

There should be a disclosure regarding any homeowner’ association before your client makes the purchase. Aside from the disclosure, help your client ask the right questions, such as what the association’s policies are and how stable they are financially.

There is also a Preliminary Title Report or Title Commitment, which should contain any information regarding easements. In the event that anyone plans to put a pool in the back yard, it is important that you find out about any easements or rights of way, as an easement can stop the plans to build the pool, a fence, and various other additions.

In addition, it is important that any covenants, conditions and restrictions (CC&Rs) be disclosed. CC&Rs are a matter of public record and affect the way the property can be used. It is important that these be researched and that you are aware of the ramifications regarding the house/property you are planning to purchase.

Another group of disclosures involve protecting you from various substances and hazards. There is a lead-based paint disclosure, which gives the buyer 10 days to inspect for lead-based paint unless both parties agree to waive this right. Lead-based paint was banned in 1978; however, even though a property was built after 1978 does not mean that it is lead-free.

Two other disclosures that are important are the radon gas test and toxic mold test. Radon gas has been linked to deaths from cancer and can contaminate the property’s water sources. There are websites that describe radon testing in depth and explain how and why the test should be conducted. Toxic mold is another very important matter. Toxic mold is insidious – it is often not seen and there is not always an odor to it. Testing is usually simple and reasonably inexpensive. It is extremely important that these tests be performed and disclosed, since some issues with mold can be excluded from your homeowner’s insurance policy, and even worse, pre-existing mold can keep you from getting homeowner’s insurance in many cases.

Three more items that should be disclosed are termite inspections, powder post beetle inspections and fumigation tent facts. Termite inspections are a normal part of the process of buying a home. Power post beetles are not as well known. These are a specific type of beetle that eats wood. It is important to get the information about termite and post beetle inspections and how to inspect for damage before the deal is finalized.

The last item is extremely important. Natural Hazard reports disclose various conditions that could affect the property, such as whether the property is subject to shifting sands, fires, flooding or lies on a fault line. It is important to be aware of all this information before you finalize the purchase.

Whether you are closing a conventional sale or a short sale, make sure you have the reports and information you need to make a good decision that will put money in your pocket rather than cost you expenses that can turn a good moneymaking deal into an unnecessary loss.

P.S. If you haven’t signed up for my Free Short Sale Course yet, then you are really missing out, go here: http://www.freeshortsalecourse.com/

Jeff Kaller, visionary, educator and real estate developer has the pioneered the most preeminent pre-foreclosure system in United States. Specializing in a well kept industry niche, Jeff teaches the real estate secrets of purchasing pre-foreclosure properties while executing real estate theory to actual practice. A record of $7 million dollars in properties and a dedicated following of over 9,000 students in less than four years stands testament to his winning strategies.

Author: Jeff Kaller
Article Source: EzineArticles.com
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Pros & Cons of Various House Foundations

Slab, Crawlspace or Basement? When building a new home, which foundation is the best choice? I offer the pros & cons of the typical three choices.

Slab:

Pros:
– Least expensive to build
– No moisture/humidity to deal with under sub-floor
– Easy access for handicapped or senior persons, since very close to ground level

Cons:
– Hard surface, takes a toll on your body/joints
– Difficult to run additional wires/pipes
– HVAC typically located in the attic (unconditioned space)
– A leak in a water supply line in the slab is very expensive to fix
– Entrance at ground level, not as eye appealing
– High likelihood of radon issue (can be easily mitigated)
– More prone to wood destroying insect issues, since close to ground

Crawlspace:

Pros:
– Able to install additional wires/piping easily if needed
– Wood floor structure is softer than concrete
– Entrance higher off ground, more eye appealing
– Easy access for repairs
– Less likely to have a radon issue (on ventilated crawlspaces)

Cons:
– Moisture issues (water & humidity) are a major issues, creates fungus growth & rot
– Easy access for unwanted pests
– HVAC in unconditioned space

Basement:

Pros:
– Able to install additional wires/piping easily if needed
– Wood floor structure is softer than concrete
– Easy access for repairs
– Entrance higher off ground, more eye appealing
– HVAC is located in conditioned space (more energy efficient)
– Additional storage/workshop
– Inexpensive additional square footage, can be finished at a later time
– Increased re-sale value of home & increased buyer appeal
– You can build on a sloping grade
– Provides shelter during extreme weather (tornado’s, hurricane’s, etc)

Cons:
– Most expensive to build (compared to a slab or crawlspace)
– Need a sloping lot to build a walkout basement
– Higher likelihood of radon issue (can be easily mitigated)

Mac has remodeled many old homes, been employed in several different construction trades & is a major do-it-yourselfer. He currently owns a home inspection company and has been inspecting homes for many years which is where my experience is most relevant to the proper way to build a home. To learn more about building your dream home, visit my website, http://www.house-building-tips.net

Author: Mac Barlow
Article Source: EzineArticles.com
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Why Indoor Air Quality Control Can Be a Deal Maker Or Breaker For “Green” Home Buyers

What value do home buyers put on indoor air quality? I think I know the answer. But before I weigh in, let’s pretend you are searching for a home to buy. You find two houses in the same neighborhood and each looks good. Both are about the same price and both fit your family’s needs. But one home has an invisible advantage that may save you thousands of dollars in health care costs.

The hypothetical home I’m talking about has excellent indoor air quality. I can guarantee and prove as much, because we serviced and certified the home. The other home is a different matter. Perhaps it has passed a state-mandated radon test, but beyond that there are no assurances that the indoor air quality is acceptable and will remain that way.

Now here’s the big question: how much more would you pay for the home that comes with a guarantee of excellent indoor air quality?

In many cases, the answer today is probably zero. Here lies the problem, because despite increased health care costs and more awareness of contaminants in our dwellings, as a society we have yet to find a way to promote this potential increase in the market value of a clean air home. Knowing the connection between proper lower level moisture control and air quality, we as waterproofing contractors need to bring this link to the public.

My colleague Richard Walter, the CEO and owner of A+ Engineering Construction in Gardnerville, Nevada, knows what I know: indoor air quality doesn’t sell – yet. He also can tell you that following state-mandated tests doesn’t necessarily guarantee you a long healthy life.

“My concern is the government has taken an inadequate approach. In Nevada I can call the University of Reno and ask for a radon test today. But that doesn’t mean my house will be safe two years from now.”

Walter believes our nation suffers from an epidemic of poor quality of air in residences. That’s because too often home buyers don’t test for mold, a serious enemy of indoor air quality caused by moisture, or they don’t see moisture remediation as an essential, ongoing task.

“Our company takes the approach that all homes are contaminated because we now add more insulation and close up our homes tighter and tighter as we become more energy efficient. But at same time we’re polluting the houses we live in by allowing excess moisture (greater than 50% relative humidity) in the basement and crawl spaces to exist.” We are also not effectively preventing pollutants, such as radon gas and other soil gases, from entering the house via the porous basement floor and/or unsealed crawlspace.

Basement waterproofing contractors and crawl space sealing and insulation installers can help to educate homeowners. In addition, housing contractors might be willing to use indoor air control techniques in basements and crawl spaces when building new homes – but only if they believe home buyers will pay the extra money for a safer environment. Even if the necessary steps are not taken during initial construction, basement waterproofers should promote that the damage to air quality can be addressed with after-construction methods.

I salute the Green Movement. It has turned an important corner. Public awareness and common sense have merged. Now Green innovators can finally enjoy a win-win market advantage. Meanwhile, I’m hopeful that one day indoor air quality will be a deal maker or breaker. But how will I know?

Picture this: I’m finally ready to retire, sell my house and move to Aspen. I put my family home on the market and ask for a firm $285,000. Then a knowledgeable young husband and wife pull me aside and whisper, “We’ll give you $300,000 if you can guarantee the indoor air quality.” When that happens, we’ll know our message has been received.

Lou Cole is president of Emecole, a full provider of products and solutions for basement waterproofing contractors and crawl space sealing and insulation installers. Visit http://www.emecole.com or contact him at lcole@emecole.com or write to 50 E. Montrose Dr.P.O. Box 7486, Romeoville, IL 60446

Author: Louis Cole
Article Source: EzineArticles.com
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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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