Tag Archives: radon mitigation

Radon Abatement – Users Guide

The first thing that you need to understand is that the presence of radon gas is dangerous to your health, and because there is no odor to this gas and it also is invisible and colorless, you would normally not be aware of its presence without performing a Radon test in the building. There is also no level of it that can be said to be safe, and thus even the slightest presence of radon gas can prove to be detrimental to your health.

There are a number of different methods for radon abatement and you can use simple methods such as sealing cracks or use radon exhaust fans or vent fans to help eliminate or reduce the levels of the gas in a building. If you need more advice as to the best means of affecting radon abatement in a building then you need to go through the EPA “Consumer’s Guide to Radon Reduction”, and this guide can be obtained from the state radon office.

The benefits of consulting a user guide for using things such as radon detectors are many and include learning how to test for this gas, and knowing the health risks associated with radon. In addition, you will learn about radon abatement, how the gas gets into a building and whether it exists in only soil, or is it also present in water etc.

Thus, it is essential to learn how effective it to perform radon mitigation is, especially as you should expect to pay about twelve hundred dollars on average to remediate and lower the levels of radon gas in a building. In addition, you would need to use Sub-slab depressurization methods to lower levels of Radon gas in the home. However, there is no regulations available pertaining to controlling radon levels inside a building and thus you need to rely only on guidelines as well as national goals.

Conducting a radon test in your home is very simple. We have located a web site that sells low cost radon testing products that are 100% EPA approved and easy to use. You can order online and have the package within just a few days, not to mention their excellent customer support. Click here to go there now.

Author: Charles Berkley
Article Source: EzineArticles.com
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Radon From Granite Causes Cancer

The allusion that seems to be made, that natural stone installed in your home is dangerous to your health is raised repeatedly on the website and in a recent local Houston TV news program.

It’s interesting to note that the two major contributors of this non-profit organization are manufacturers of engineered stone. One of those contributing manufacturers has a marketing executive on the board of directors of this particular organization.

From what may be perceived on the surface as perhaps another “going green” ad campaign, seems to be a different slant on the ongoing battle of the engineered stone manufacturers against natural stone.

Keep in mind that granite as does most natural components found in building material, allows vapors to pass through them that might contain trace amounts of radon. There are very small amounts of uranium found in trace minerals such as biotite in some natural stones. When quarried if a large cluster of biotite is exposed the result initially would be a radon reading. However, once a piece of granite or natural stone exposed to a large amount of uranium rich mineral in the ground is removed from the source and exposed to the air, the radon vapor transmission would weaken drastically and then dissipate. Simply put, think of natural stone as a very dense sponge that allows water, air and yes radon to pass through the stone. Once the stone is removed from the source of radon (the earth) the stone has no radon to filter through it.

We do endorse Radon testing but to allude that natural stone is a main contributor seems ludicrous.

Here are some facts about Radon:

WHERE DOES RADON COME FROM?

“Radon comes from the natural radioactive decay of radium and uranium found in the soil beneath the house. The amount of radon in the soil depends on complex soil chemistry, which varies from one house to the next. Radon levels in the soil range from a few hundred to several thousands of pCi/L. The amount of radon that escapes from the soil to enter the house depends on the weather, soil porosity, soil moisture, and the suction within the house”.

HOW DOES RADON GET INTO THE HOUSE?

“Houses act like large chimneys. As the air in the house warms, it rises to leak out the attic openings and around the upper floor windows. This creates a small suction at the lowest level of the house, pulling the radon out of the soil and into the house. (Just as natural stone filters radon emission as mentioned before.) You can test this on a cold day by opening a top floor window an inch. You will notice warm air from the house rushing out that opening; yet, if you open a basement window an inch, you will feel the cold outside air rushing in. This suction is what pulls the radon out of the soil and into the house. You might think caulking the cracks and the openings in the basement floor will stop the radon from entering the house. However, scientific studies show, it only takes enough unsealed cracks or pin holes in the caulking to equal a hole 1/2” in diameter to let all the radon in. It is unlikely that caulking the accessible cracks and joints will permanently seal the openings radon needs to enter the house. The radon levels will still likely remain unchanged.

Fortunately, there are other extremely effective means of keeping radon out of your home. Throughout the country, several million people have already tested for radon. Some houses tested as high as 2,000-3,000 pCi/L; yet, there hasn’t been one house that could not mitigate to an acceptable level. The difference in reference to natural stone is that one the stone slab is removed from the source and exposed to the atmosphere the radon is vented in the same way ventilation of a house mitigates the radon emissions in the soil.

Levels of radiation from granite products, which technically are measurable, are in fact, small fractional values of established thresholds for environmental safety. The truth of the matter is that granite is a safe product. It’s been used for thousands of years and the relationship between granite and radon has been studied for years and years. How safe is granite? There have been mathematical models developed that show that one could live in an all-granite home or building, including sleeping on granite, for an entire year and still be within very safe levels of exposure.

Calculations show that, if an average countertop, traps an average uranium concentration of four ppm (parts per million), the concentration of radon that is given off by the countertop into the household air would be 270,000 times less than the level of radon in the outside air. The maximum contact level that you would receive over one year if you were to sit on a countertop all of the time would be about one quarter of the annual radiation from all sources. If you were just a few inches away from the granite (such as when doing the dishes), the dose would be too low to measure.

To Quote Donald Langmuir, PhD, Professor Emeritus of Geochemistry, Colorado School of Mines, & President, Hydrochem Systems Corp.

“To show how laughable are the concerns of radon emitted from natural stone, the typical granite countertop in our example will release 7.4 x 10 -7 pCi/L of air. This corresponds to 2.7 x 10 -8 atom decays per second (dps). This represents 0.85 decays per year. In other words, less than one atom of radon is produced by the countertop in one year. This is hardly worth getting excited about. I would suggest that a good way to reduce our exposure to the radon present in outdoor air would be to build an air-tight house out of granite countertops! There are certain properties of rocks that can increase their radon emanation efficiency, or in other words increase the release of radon from a given weight of rock. These are rock properties that maximize the exposure of internal or external rock surfaces to water or air, allowing any radon gas to escape. The author of ‘Granite and Radon’ argues that such properties, which include rock porosity, fissuring and mylonitization, will increase radon releases. This is probably true, however, a granite with such properties would be too brittle to make into a countertop, and too open to take a polish, and so would not be marketable as a countertop – unless the rock pores were first filled with a chemical sealant. Such sealing would also eliminate any possible radon release problems.”

In a more recent study that was conducted by L. L. Chyi, a Ph.D. and professor of Geochemistry and Environmental Geology at The University of Akron, Akron, Ohio. Dr. Chyi studied 13 of the most popular granites used throughout the United States as determined by an industry-wide survey. Due to their popularity these 13 granites, are believed to represent up to 85% of the granite countertop market in recent years. The granite types are as follows:

1. New Venetian Gold, Brazil; medium grained, yellow-beige gneiss with many dark red garnets

2. Uba Tuba, Brazil; A medium- to coarse grained, olive-green granite

3. Santa Cecilia, Brazil; A coarse-grained, yellow-grey gneiss with up to pie-sized, red garnets

4. Tropic Brown, Saudi Arabia; medium-grained, brown granite

5. Absolute Black, India; black basalt

6. Tan Brown, India; A black-brown igneous rock with big, shapeless, brown-red feldspar crystals

7. Giallo Ornamental, Brazil; coarse-grained, brown-yellow granulite with some brown-red garnets

8. Crema Bordeaux, Brazil; Juparana Crema Bordeaux (Brunello). A coarse- to very coarse-grained, pink to red granite with areas of quartz, alkali feldspar and quite a lot of ore

9. Baltic Brown, Finland; brown-black granite

10. Giallo Veneziano, Brazil; medium- to coarse-grained, ochre-yellow to golden-brown, also light pink, gneiss

11. Dakota Mahogany, USA; medium- to coarse-grained, brown-red granite

12. China Black, China, a fine-grained plutonic rock

13. Yellow Star, China, a medium-grained yellow to pink granite

The testing methodology was designed to measure the amount of radon which each granite type would add to the interior of a 2,000 square foot, normally ventilated home with 8 ft ceilings. The results show that Crema Bordeaux (the most active in terms of radon emissions) would contribute a concentration component of less than 0.28 pCi/L, or less than 7% of the EPA’s recommended actionable level of 4.0 pCi/L. This radon amount is well below a level which might cause health concerns. Tropic Brown and Baltic Brown, second and third in radon emanation based upon Dr. Chyi’s testing, amounted to only 1% of this action level. The other granites tested added almost immeasurable amounts of radon to the house. Radon atoms in pore spaces and fractures are of minimal concern in the case of granite countertops

Dr. Chyi’s test results show that the granites that are currently found in the United States’ market place are insignificant contributors to radon levels in the home. “Based on the testing results and EPA standards, we can conclude that the most popular granites used as countertop surfaces pose no health threat to homeowners. If proper resealing is applied once a year or at other frequencies determined by the industry, the radon emanation can be further reduced”.

Daniel J. Steck, Ph.D. also ran a test on interior radon and granite, and this is what he had to say.

“The average radionuclide contents of your building material samples are similar to other average granite samples and other common earth-derived building materials such as brick and soil. Thus, the amount of gamma radiation emitted from similar masses of these building materials will be approximately the same;

There is little sample-to-sample variation in the radon family radionuclide concentrations; the radon flux is somewhat larger for the counter-top squares than for the smaller samples. This indicates that the effective diffusion length is only on the order of the thickness of the counter-top samples, i.e. several centimeters. Thus, material thicker than 5 cm (2″) most likely will not emit more than the counter-top samples.

While we feel that health safety is a great concern especially in our homes, for an industry to attempt to gain financially by “scare tactics” or under the auspices of “Eco friendly” is reprehensible. We urge the consumer to not be taken in by these alarmist tactics.

www.nsraweb.com

Author: Josveek Huligar
Article Source: EzineArticles.com
Home care

Safeguard Your Family From Dangerous Radon Gas – Test Your Home For Radon Today

Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas that is harmless in low concentrations. Outdoors, as it seeps out of the soil, the radon safely dissipates into the atmosphere. But as radon leeches into your home through the foundation or crawl space, it has nowhere to go-gradually accumulating over time, these high concentrations of radon gas can be extremely dangerous for your family! Keep your family safe: call the professionals today for an accurate radon test.

Why should you care about radon in your home?

In small doses and during short term exposure, radon is generally harmless. But high concentrations of radon gas can be hazardous to your whole family’s health. The number one cause of lung cancer in non-smokers and the number two cause in smokers, radon is a known carcinogen. And, as the American Lung Association estimates, the average American spends between 60% and 90% of the time inside their home. That’s a ton of exposure to this dangerous gas if you have a radon problem in your home!

How do you know if you have a radon problem?

Because radon is both odorless and invisible, radon testing is the only way to gauge whether or not you have a problem in your home. This non-invasive test involves measuring the concentration of radon in your house’s air. While there are do-it-yourself radon test kits available, we strongly suggest using a professional radon contractor for your test. These experts are able to provide the most precise, accurate radon measurements, ensuring you get the correct information you need to know your family is safe!

What should I do if my radon test comes back positive?

If your radon test indicates a high level of the gas inside your house, you need to address the problem immediately. Long-term exposure to elevated radon concentrations is the most dangerous, so eliminating the issue ASAP can help reduce your risks! The answer is radon mitigation. An affordable and relatively easy solution for this health hazard, radon mitigation systems effectively vent radon from inside your home to the air outside, where the gas harmlessly dissipates.

Contact your radon professional today for complete testing and mitigation. Your family could be at risk-accurate testing will put your mind at ease, so call your radon contractor today!

Matt Gallo is a home improvement specialist and the Internet marketing manager for Prospect Genius, bringing local businesses online local advertising.

Author: Matt Gallo
Article Source: EzineArticles.com
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Subslab Depressurization

Sub-slab depressurization or sub-slab suction is probably the most reliable and effective radon mitigation technique. It involves an insertion of a pipe (usually 4 inches in diameter) through the floor slab into the soil or gravel under the foundation. This can be done either from inside the house, or inserted under the slab from the outside. As a side note, this technique is used for houses with a basement or slab-on-grade foundation. If your house has a crawl space, a different technique is used.

Just to give you a quick idea of what’s involved, you’ll need to create a hole (aka suction point) in your slab (approx 4 inches in diameter), remove as much soil and/or gravel from under the foundation as possible, put in place a pipe running out from this suction point to a suitable location, where a special exhaust fan will generate vacuum pressure that will draw radon out from underneath the slab to the outside, thus preventing the radon gas from entering your home. Right, you may say, and I know, because that’s what I said when I first read about this a few years back. Believe me, if you do this right, and there is no reason why you shouldn’t, you’ll see a remarkable decrease in your radon levels, which will often be accompanied by a fresher indoor air quality as well (this is one positive side effect of installing this system).

Now, there are different ways of going about this, but I am going to go through one example … in my opinion probably the most likely solution for the majority of home owners (remember, this is not for a house with a crawl space)

SUCTION POINT

My best advice for you is to pick the spot most convenient to run the pipe out of the basement and start there with a hole. I do think that a suction point near the footer tends to produce better results because there is often more settling there, but really that is not of the greatest importance. You should definitely determine where the pipe will have to exit the basement before you start drilling holes in your floor. Also make sure you are aware of potential drain and water pipes, and possible electrical conduits or in-floor heating.

I am going to assume that if you plan on doing this yourself, you don’t need me to tell you how to make a hole in your slab. Well anyway, one way is to drill a series of holes and then chisel and hammer out the cement chunk. The hole should be slightly larger than the 4” pipe you’ll be using.

Once you have the hole made, it’s time to dig. This is probably the worst part of the job, and it could be relatively easy or very hard, depending on what lies underneath. For best results try removing as much as possible. You are trying to create a sort of a vacuum chamber under the slab that will draw in radon and moisture from underneath the entire foundation, so this can make or break your mitigation system. No matter what you have underneath the slab, be it sand, gravel, soil, or any combination of these, try to get 20-30 gallons out, and more if possible, specially for tight soils. REMEMBER this will be the difference between a mitigation system that works and one that doesn’t.

When we did our house, I spent hours scraping away buckets of dirt and gravel till my forearms were bruised. I managed to get about 30 gallons out, and let me tell you, it was worth it.

RUNNING THE PIPES

If you have an attached garage, I would recommend going from the basement, into the garage, and then to the attic, as this is the most feasible solution. Your second choice is to go through the floor above, perhaps through a closet or some other point where the pipe is either not visible or will be easily concealed, and then into the attic where your suction fan would be. The third choice is taking the pipe outside of your house. Personally, I think an outside system should be avoided all together unless there aren’t any other options. Even if it takes a little more effort on your part, try and stick to the indoors for your piping and fan system. Colder climates especially will result in a lot of condensation that can reduce the life expectancy of your radon exhaust fan. You can purchase a condensation bypass kit if you mount your fan outside to prevent water and condensation from ruining your motor.

Back to work… Now that you have your suction point ready, you can use a coupler and secure it using a foam backer (but really you can also use whatever you see fit). Once all your pipes are in place and secure you should caulk this joint for an airtight seal. For the piping, you can use any type of good PVC piping that will fit into whatever you’re using, and make sure that you measure well before you glue your PVC to your elbows and joints. In our home we used a 4 inch sewer pipe and glueless joints/elbows (they have a double rubber seal on the inside to form a water and air proof seal, and the advantage is that you can separate the pipes if you mess up. The only downside is that they are a few bucks more, and really hard to put on, or take off for that matter).

THE FAN

Contrary to what you might be thinking, you cannot just use any ordinary fan for this job. If you are going to invest your time and energy into this, you have to do things right, and you’ll need a special fan that is capable of creating vacuum pressure under the slab without the fan burning out, that can withstand the elements, cold, and moisture, and that will do the job quietly and efficiently.

For your safety, you exhaust Fan has to be located outside of your home’s living space. This leaves you with an option to put your fan in the garage, the attic, or outside. Furthermore, the pipe leading from your fan to the outside must terminate above the plane of the roof, and must be no closer than 10 feet horizontally from windows that open. This is to minimize the possibility of radon re-entering your home.

RP145 fan with couplings and  Dynameter
RP145 Fan by Radonaway and a manometer on a 4 inch 100mm sewer pipe

The size and price of your fan will vary and depends on the square footage of your foundation. The type of soil  also plays a role in the fan decision, as you might need a more powerful fan for tighter soils.

As an example if your foundation is anywhere up to 1200 Square feet and your sub-soil is a gravel mixture, an RP145 by RadonAway should be quite sufficient. Most retailers will have a chart or table of different fans, ranging from 3” to 8” duct systems, the latter being used for large projects, such as a school.

Finally no matter where you end up placing your fan, you will need to bring it power. For this, you might need to call an electrician, or not, depending on whether you have a plug-in nearby. Luckily, my father is an electrician, and so we have our fan wired in directly to a switch for ease of maintenance. As you might have guessed we have the RP145 fan installed in the attic above our garage, and it is virtually silent.

As a side note, each fan comes with a suggested maximum operating pressure. This basically informs you how well your entire mitigation system is performing, how much pressure is being created by the fan, and whether you have sufficient airflow under the slab. To keep an eye on your system and to see that it is functioning nominally, I strongly suggest getting something like this Installation Kit for RadonAway System . It includes a manometer which  basically tells you what pressure your system is holding. It’s inexpensive, easy to install, and well worth it. These kits also include couplings, which are intended to tie in your fan to the PVC piping(shown in the picture with the RP145 Fan) and I’d recommend using these, as they allow not only for a perfect tight fit with your piping, but also easy future fan replacement or maintenance.

FINAL NOTE

Our radon levels in the basement were always hovering at around 25 and up to 31 pci/L, and around 20 pci/L on the main floor, during the cold winter months. Summers were ranging from 8 to 12 pci/L. After we installed the subslab mitigation system our levels are averaging 1.4 during the coldest months, and 0.4 to 0.8 pci/L in the summer. The picture to the right is from our own Safety Siren Pro 3 Radon Detector. Click on it to see a larger version. It was taken on January 31, 2010. We have been using it for over 2 years now, and had several of our neighbours borrow it for some time as well. If you find that you have  a radon problem, you are probably better off getting one of these instead of the charcoal or alpha track test kits that need to be sent in to a lab.  These are not cheap, they go for US $130.00, but they are very accurate and convenient to use.

If you are interested in prices or would like to purchase one, here are a couple of suppliers in the States. They also provide a lot of additional information about their products.

Radon Zone – These guys are offering  free shipping, unfortunately they only ship to the States (sorry Canadian customers).  They supply other, short and long term, radon test kits, as well as the Safety Siren Pro 3.

National Safety Products – These guys dont offer free shipping but they do ship to Canada, and they do offer discounts if you plan on purchasing more than one item. They also supply other radon products.

I wish you all the best and hope you get those radon levels down just like we did.

House Pressurization and Ventilation

Pressurization uses a fan to blow air into the basement or living area from either upstairs or outdoors. The goal here is to create enough pressure (positive pressure) at the lowest level indoors, such as in a basement, to prevent radon from entering the house. The effectiveness of this technique can be limited by house construction and climate. In order to maintain enough pressure to keep radon out, the doors and windows at the lowest level must not be left opened, except for normal entry and exit.  Blowing air out of the basement to reduce radon levels, although seemingly a good idea, might actually increase the flow of radon into your home. As you blow air out, a vacuum effect is created (negative pressure) which will cause greater influx of radon into your basement from the surrounding soil.

Another form of ventilation is natural ventilation, which is achieved simply by opening doors and windows at the lower levels of your home. Natural ventilation mixes outdoor air with the radon contaminated indoor air, thus reducing overall radon levels.

There are some obvious drawbacks to both of the above techniques. Once you close your windows and doors, or turn off your fan that blows air into your basement, radon concentrations most often return to previous values within about 12 hours. Furthermore, as a result of more outdoor air being introduced into the home, you might see moisture intrusions, loss of conditioned air, and energy penalties, particularly during the winter months.

Consequently, both of these techniques are regarded as only temporary approaches to radon reduction and should only be considered after the other, more-common techniques (such as sub-floor mitigation) have not sufficiently reduced radon levels.

Another form of mechanical ventilation can be accomplished by installing a heat recovery ventilator (HRV), sometimes referred to as air-to-air heat exchanger.  HRVs ventilate by introducing outdoor air while using the heated or cooled air being exhausted to warm or cool the incoming air. The advantage of an HRV system over other ventilation techniques is that besides supplying balanced ventilation, a HRV will reduce the energy penalty associated with providing more ventilation to a home. As an added benefit, an HRV can improve air quality in houses that have other indoor pollutants.

Sealing cracks and openings

Dranjer D-R2 floor drain
Dranjer D-R2 floor drain

Sealing the cracks in the foundation and other openings, such as drainage and sump pump sinks, is a basic part of most approaches to radon reduction. This technique reduces the flow of radon into your home thereby making other radon reduction techniques more effective and cost-efficient, and also reduces the loss of conditioned air. This technique, however, has its limitations. It is difficult to identify and permanently seal all the places where radon can enter, and if you have a finished basement, this is almost impossible without extensive and possibly expensive work.  Furthermore, even if you were able to do so in an unfinished basement, normal settling of your house will eventually open new entry routes and reopen old ones.

You can try a special floor drain adapter for your drainage holes in your basement. I myself have purchased couple of these Dranjer D-R2 floor drains. They allow for water to flow down the drain but prevent any gas/air from coming up through it into the living space. According to the website I purchased these from it does the following: “Dranjer seals permit unrestricted flow of water into floor drains or sump pits while sealing out the entry of mold spores, insects and radon gas from the sub-slabe floor area.” To be completely honest, I am not sure these worked very well, as my radon detector did not register any significant changes.

As a side note: EPA does not recommend the use of sealing alone to reduce radon because, by itself, sealing has not been shown to lower radon levels significantly or consistently