Radon is a colorless, odorless, tasteless radioactive gas that is a decay product of uranium that naturally occurs in soil and rock. The 2nd leading cause of lung cancer, Radon causes 15,000 to 21,000 deaths in the United States annually and has been found and identified in every state. Once produced, radon moves through the ground to the air above while portion remains in the earth and dissolves in underground water. It is estimated that over 6% of every home in the United States has elevated levels of radon that may need remediation. The Environmental Protection Agency and many state governments recommends Radon testing. The EPA states that any Radon exposure carries some risk. Radon levels are measured in picocuries. A picocurie (pCi) is a measure of the rate of radioactive decay of Radon. Remediation is suggested if the levels average 4 picocuries per liter or higher ( pCi/L) Unless Radon is tested for, there is no way of knowing how much Radon is present. Some states require radon testing for real estate transactions including property transfer or for mortgage approval on a planned property purchase. If Radon levels are not within an acceptable range within a planned purchase, ventilation remediation may be required before the sale will go through.
Only smoking causes more cases of lung cancer than does Radon exposure. If you smoke and are exposed to higher than normal Radon levels your risk of lung cancer is elevated. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has a Radon risk comparison chart available for those who smoke and who have never smoked. The problem is that Radon gas decays into radioactive particles that can become trapped in your lungs. Over the course of a lifetime, lung tissue may become damaged. Breathing of Radon does not cause any short-term bad health effects such as fever, headaches or shortness of breath and everyone that is exposed to high radon levels will not develop lung cancer, but the potential risk is higher than usual. Radon in drinking water also poses some risk, but research shows those risks are much lower than those risks from breathing radon in the air.
Most indoor Radon comes into a building from the soil or rock beneath it. The Radon becomes trapped under a building and builds up pressure. The built up pressure forces the gases through cracks and other openings in a building and become concentrated. Because Radon levels are not predictable, it is wise to purchase an inexpensive Radon test to determine if levels are unacceptable in a home or building.
What is the Radon testing procedure?
Radon testing is inexpensive and easy. To perform a radon test simply follow the instructions provided and return the radon sampling bag in the self-addressed envelope. All that is required to collect the sample is to open the package and place the sampler in the area to be tested. The test start date and time and the completion date and time are recorded on the supplied data card that is returned with the collected sample. The sampler should be exposed to the environment in the area being tested for 2 days. The cost of the kit includes a laboratory analysis fee and the detailed report, which will be sent to you.
The Report Includes The Information On: Report Date, EPA ID Number, State ID #, Lab ID #, Kit ID #, Radon Level Measured (pCi/L), Test Location, Test Type, Start and Stop Date and Time, Test Method, Radon Health Risk, Explanation of results, Recommended next steps required based on radon level.
Be Proactive. Don’t wait until someone falls ill, or you are contemplating selling your home to test the levels of Radon in your residence. Stay healthy, Be Safe.
The author is the owner and founder of Be Safe Plus LLC, an e-commerce website that specializes in Safety, Wellness, Sports Therapy and Exercise products and solutions including Radon testing kits.
When uranium in American soil decomposes, it creates radon. This is bad news for families when the gas seeps in through the cracks of your basement and floorboards. Too much exposure can lead to lung cancer, and radon is responsible for more than 20,000 lung cancer deaths in the U.S. Annually.
When radon levels in a house are too high, I have seen people reduce them by 90%+ just using the simple steps in this guide. If you do it right, you can avoid exposing yourself to high levels of radon in the process.
1. Get a commercial radon testing kit and see how high your levels are.
2. If the levels are 4x the safe levels in your state or more, stop right there. Google a “radon mitigation professional” in your area and have him come do the work. It’s simply not worth the risk if the levels are that high.
3. Ensure that you’re getting enough air circulation through all the close and compact areas in your home, such as your basements and crawl spaces.
4. Aerate your home further with vents and fans. Put in ventilation fans in your home anywhere radon levels have accumulated and are particularly high. Open up all your chimney flues and make sure you let stale air waft out of the home by opening and closing doors.
5. Look for ways to generate cross-draft in your home by opening adjacent doors. For example, you may have a second doorway to your backyard through the kitchen. Open that door up and the front door. Put a fan facing out of your home in the direction of the cross-draft to get that stale air out of your home.
6. Seal off the cracks in your walls and floors. These gaps are your entry point for radon gas.
7. Seal off all open plumbing bores and seal your wall seam to the floor. Any area in your home that lacks a complete join is a candidate for sealing.
You want your family to live a long, healthy life, and so do we. Make sure your home is radon-free with these DIY radon mitigation techniques. Remember, if you cannot reduce your radon levels dramatically by yourself, make sure you get a professional. Ignoring radon will NOT make it go away.
If you’ve done a radon test and the results came back showing that the level is higher than 4 PCi/L, then you definitely need to install a radon mitigation system. Usually this system keeps the gas concentration to lower levels that cannot be harmful. In fact, it lowers the levels up to 2 PCi/L. Interestingly, If you later decide to sell the house installed with this system, the price will be definitely tangible.
Basically, it would be best to inquire from an expert opinion before installing any radon mitigation system. However, if you choose not to, then you ought to consider certain criteria. For instance, the type of foundation and the design of the house. Here you’ll find that there are houses that have a simple space under the first floor, some with concrete-poured on the ground level, some that combine these two foundation designs, others with a crawl space and half a slab-on-grade etc.
Whichever the design of your house, there are several procedures that may be required to achieve radon mitigation. Generally, you can opt for prevention by using special devices that may prevent radon from entering the house or you can choose to lower the gas concentration. Installing underground fans, radon contractors, sealing cracks and openings in the walls etc, are some of the measures you can undertake to control radon.
Such things as the soil type beneath the house, foundation design and so on, are some of the special diagnostic tests that should be done before you start on the radon process. Nevertheless, it would be better and wise to talk to the team in charge of the whole procedure and analyze every detail together.
Peter Gitundu Creates Interesting And Thought Provoking Content on Radon. For More Information, Read More Of His Articles Here RADON POISONING If You Enjoyed This Article, Make Sure You SUBSCRIBE TO MY RSS FEED!
Many homeowners have questions about radon and the serious effects it can have on you, your family and even your home. But, the only way you’d ever even worry about radon is by learning about it and seeking professional assistance. Radon is an invisible, odorless, hazardous and natural occurring gas that is a result from uranium decay in the earth’s crust.
In the United States, radon is the leading cause of cancer found amongst non-smokers. Radon is dangerous because it quickly breaks down and scatters into the air. Large and dangerous amounts of radon can and will accumulate inside your home, within a short amount of time, without your knowledge or permission. As a result, radon exposure can cause lung cancer. Radon induced lung cancer kills 21,000 people each year. Let’s learn more about this silent killer so that we’re not growing anxious without hope. There is hope.
By far the largest source of radon is located around and under your home in the soil, but this deadly gas can also present in the air, building materials, and public and private water supplies.
How is Radon Measured?
Since radon is invisible and odorless it can only be detected and measured using radon specific detection equipment and devices. Radon detectors are somewhat common in the United States and Canada and can be purchased at most hardware stores and home building centers.
Most radon detectors are generally placed in a home for several days, and then sent to a lab where your home’s radon levels will be analyzed and determined. There are more expensive models of radon detectors on the market that can be installed in your home by a professional. Whether a short term test that remains in the home for a few days, or a long term test that remains in the home for over 90 days. Whichever you prefer!
Does My Home Have Elevated Radon Levels?
Radon tends to move through the soil, so any homeowner with a dirt crawl space beneath their home, may be exposed to the high levels of radon. However, homes with concrete foundations can also have high levels of radon. The Environmental Protection Agency recommends an action level of 4.0 picocuries per liter (pCi/L).
This radioactive gas can enter a home through the smallest crack in the walls and floor of your home’s foundation, through utility lines, and even drains and sump openings. Radon is not just limited to the basement or crawl space of your home. It quickly travels upstairs into your main living space.
What Are The Health Effects of Radon Exposure?
According to the EPA, smokers who have been exposed to radon have a greater chance of developing lung cancer. However, radon induced lung cancer also kills many people who have never smoked or been hugely affected by second hand smoke, everyone is at risk. Unfortunately, studies have also shown that children are at a higher health risk of developing health effects due to radon exposure, in comparison to adults.
What Are the Symptoms of Radon Poisoning?
Studies show that radon causes some of the highest numbers of lung cancer cases throughout the United States. A persistent cough, respiratory difficulties, hoarseness, breathing difficulties, and respiratory infections are all common indications of radon gas poisoning.
Recognizing Radon Poisoning
Radon poisoning typically occurs where there are high levels of radon gas. This usually occurs when a person is constantly exposed to poorly ventilated crawl spaces, mines or basements.
Radon originates through a decaying process that releases tiny radioactive particles, and when inhaled can begin to deplete lung tissue resulting in lung cancer.
How Do I Protect My Family Against Radon Poisoning?
The United States Surgeon General office recommends that homeowners periodically test their homes for radon in order to stay on top of the conditions. Radon levels can change on a daily basis because of changes in soil composition, weather, encapsulation, and more. Have your home tested and mitigated. If you have any suspicions or concerns about radon induced lung cancer, be sure to get tested for lung cancer.
Contact Tar Heel Basement Systems today to schedule radon testing and radon mitigation in Winston-Salem NC and all surrounding areas. They will design a unique radon mitigation system and provide maintenance visits to verify the system is working and your home’s radon levels are remaining low.
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.
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)
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).
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.
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.
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.
Rn is the chemical symbol for radon. It is a radioactive gas that occurs naturally and can be found in soils, rock, and water throughout the world. It has numerous different isotopes, but radon-220, and -222 are the most common. Radon is a gas that is created in the soils where uranium and radium are found. Since these elements can be found everywhere in the world any building has the potential for elevated levels of radon. The more uranium found in the soil, the higher the potential for elevated radon levels within that building.
Because radon is an inert (or noble) gas, meaning that it does not react or combine chemically with other substances except under certain special conditions, it can move up through the soil into the atmosphere, where it is easily diluted and presents little concern. However, when radon enters a building, it can build up and become a health concern
You cannot see or smell radon, and there is no way that your body can sense the presence of radon; however, it can have a detrimental effect on the inhabitants by increasing their likelihood of developing lung cancer.
Since radium 226 can be found in low concentrations in almost all rock and soil, it is not a question of “if”, but “how much” radon you really have. Radon is generated in rock and soil and it escapes into the atmosphere through cracks and spaces between the rocks and soil. This results in an average outdoor radon concentration of about 0.4 pCi/L (picocuries per liter of air). At these concentrations there is no real danger. However, if radon is allowed to seep into homes and buildings through cracks and holes in the foundations and walls, the concentration can build up to much higher levels, at which point research suggests there is a reason for concern.
The average indoor radon concentration is about 1.3 pCi/l. Radon concentrations in a home can very depending on several factors including; house design, soil conditions, local geology, and the weather, such as high or low atmospheric pressures, and warm or cold climate. For example, indoor radon levels increase substantially during the winter months. As indoor temperatures increase relative to the outside temperatures, a thermal effect occurs. The rising warm air within a building is displaced by cold denser outside air, some of which seeps in through the foundation cracks, vents, and holes from the underlying soils.
Furthermore, exhaust fans inside the house can create a lower (negative) pressure inside the home relative to the surrounding soil and air, and radon can actually be drawn into the building.