Radon gas poisoning kills many thousands of people every year. It is now the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States. Only smoking cigarettes causes more lung cancer deaths. If you smoke and your house has very high levels of radon gas, then your risk of lung cancer is much higher.
Radon is found throughout the United States. You can’t see, smell or taste it. It comes from the breakdown of uranium in the soil and water and gets into the air you breathe. Radon gets into any building, home, office or school and can build to high levels of concentration.
The home is the most likely place to get radon poisoning because that’s where you spend most of your time. Radon from the soil is the main cause of radon poisoning, but it can also enter the house through well water.
The only way to know if you and your family are at risk of radon poisoning is to have your home tested for radon. The Environmental Protection Agency strongly recommends that all homes should be tested. Apartments and condos below the third floor should also be tested. It’s a very easy test that takes only a few minutes and is inexpensive to do. Millions of American homes have been tested for radon gas. Radon testing kits can be found online and in many hardware stores.
Contact your state officials for more information about radon in your area. Radon problems may be more common in some areas than others, but, any home can have a problem with radon gas. It’s a very good idea for home buyers and renters to ask about radon levels of the house before they buy or rent a home.
Most public water supplies do not have a radon problem, but if the air in your home has tested positive for radon gas and you have well water, you should have the water tested by a lab certified to measure radon in water.
There is no known safe level of radon gas. There can always be some level of risk. But, the risk can be lowered by sealing cracks in floors and walls. Simple systems of using fans can also help in reducing radon gas when it is found in the home. After any major renovations, the house should be retested again to make sure the levels have not increased.
Ira has been writing articles for over 11 years over a wide variety of subjects. Visit his latest website all about toilet paper holders which helps people find the best toilet paper storage and information they are looking for when remodeling their bathrooms.
Radon is widely known in the home improvement industry. It’s kind of one of those things that no one likes to discuss, because the danger is so surreal. You’ve probably heard of toxins being referred to as silent killers, and when it comes to radon; that’s no understatement.
Maybe you haven’t heard that much about radon or what you have heard has not been too convincing. Does radon seem to be some “new” thing that is going to cause cancer and end the world? Everything seems to cause cancer, but the trick is in knowing how to prevent cancer, before it begins. Not everything causes cancer. That way of thinking is just some comedian’s way to laugh-off the seriousness of so many people contracting this fatal disease. But, it’s real.
Radon is a proven carcinogen, and experts know more about radon than other carcinogens. So, if you were told to avoid a proven carcinogen, you know that you would. Please, this is important. Radon doesn’t smell, it doesn’t have a taste, and you can’t see it; there aren’t even any immediate symptoms. Radon has the ability to kill you without even giving you a chance to defend yourself, without even knowing, not even a rash! Radon is not only found in the air, but also in water, so be sure to have your well water tested for radon.
Although radon does not give you much of a chance to defend yourself or trace whether you have been exposed, radon testing and mitigation systems have been developed in order to measure the radon count in your home, school, or workplace. There are even ways to make these places almost 100 percent radon-free. Not only do you want the places where you spend the most time to have a low radon count, but you want it gone. Did you know that most people, who have cancer from radon exposure, did not get it because they were saturated in it; but because of a low radon concentration?
Don’t let radon fool you into thinking you won’t get sick, or that you and your loved ones have no way to protect yourselves. There are experts who know how to regulate radon levels, and provide you with the protection that you need.
Radon: Close-up and Close to Home
Radon is a radioactive gas that’s a proven carcinogen. It does not smell. It is invisible. You cannot taste it if you tried. Radon does not choose favorites; it’s found all over the U.S. and infects anyone in its midst. Although not everyone exposed will contract cancer, for those who are infected, the particles damage your lung tissue and will most likely cause cancer.
Where does it come from? Well, radon is the result of the natural breakdown of uranium and radium. Once these particles breakdown and turn from a solid into a gas, with every breath you breathe in, this toxic radon infiltrates your lungs and body.
According to the studies performed by Air Chek, Inc., Connecticut’s New Haven County has an average indoor radon level of 3.9 pCi/L, which is 2.6 pCi/L higher than the national average. About 27% of homes in New Haven County have over 4.0 pCi/L — the high danger level. But, even with a radon level of 2.0 pCi/L there is still a higher likelihood of getting cancer from radon than carcinogens in your water and food.
“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 Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Indoor Environments Division.
What’s Your Risk?
Radon causes about 15 percent of the world’s lung cancer cases, according to the World Health Organization (WHO.) And the EPA has discovered that radon is to blame for about 21,000 of the annual lung cancer deaths.
You can increase the likelihood of contracting lung cancer from radon by not monitoring: the amount of radon in your home, how much time you spend at home, and your smoking habits. According to the Surgeon General, if you mix high levels of radon with smoking, you are in the highest risk group to have lung cancer. Together, radon and smoking are considered the top two lung cancer causing agents.
The WHO has also concluded that radon is not just a local problem, but a worldwide health risk right inside your own home.
“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.
The Only Thing to Do
You must have your home tested for radon. You must know that the radon specialists you call are trained, experienced, and the best in the industry. Otherwise, you’re putting your life in the hands of someone you can’t trust.
When it comes to radon mitigation in Connecticut, there’s no reason to go to anyone but the best. Connecticut Basement Systems Radon, Inc. is dedicated to offering its customers in CT, NY & MA only the finest and most cost-effective solutions for radon problems within your home.
Samantha Walton currently works as a web content writer for home improvement sites, and for a Basement System’s contractor whose expertise is in radon mitigation in Connecticut. 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.
For a radon estimate in Connecticut contact Connecticut Basement Systems Radon toll free today at: 1-888-630-1018. CBSR has incomparable customer service, and has become one of the largest radon companies in the U.S. Not to mention, it’s the oldest radon company in Connecticut. They also offer well pumps and well water treatment!
CBSR is a member of the Better Business Bureau Reliability Program, Water Quality Association, National Radon Safety Board, American Association of Radon Scientists and Technologists, Connecticut Water Well Association, and the National Environmental Health Association.
Did you know that radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer? Following closely behind cigarette smoking, radon is responsible for about 21,000 deaths per year, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. In fact, it could be lurking, undetectable, in your home right now. The EPA estimates that 1 in every 15 homes has elevated levels of radon. It is found in every area of every state and can even reside in your house but not the house next door.
Radon is a naturally occurring gas caused by the decay of uranium and radium, radioactive earth metals often found in rock and soil, and sometimes in well water. The dangers of radon were discovered in the 1950s in uranium mines, which hold high concentrations of radon, but it wasn’t until the 1980s when an employee at a nuclear power plant set off the radiation contamination alarms on his way into work that it became apparent that it might be a household threat.
Radon is not visible, has no odor, and by the time the effects manifest themselves in a person it is likely that significant lung damage has already occurred. Radon permeates into buildings from the ground. As warm air rises, it creates a vacuum causing continuous intake of the gases it contains. It wafts in through the tiniest of spaces and could seep through small cracks in the foundation, around pipes, sump pumps and drains, and even through walls and floorboards. Radon is a faceless enemy that subtly penetrates and slowly kills.
ARE YOU CONTAMINATED?
Detecting radon contamination is easy and could save your family’s lives. Though only some areas require mandatory radon testing when selling a house, it is a good idea to test your home regardless of whether you have just moved in, are planning to sell, or have been living there for years. In addition, it is recommended that a test be done before purchasing a home, and it is becoming common practice to do so.
There are several ways to test for elevated levels of radon in your home. There are two kinds of tests, passive and active, and both are easy enough to do yourself. The first, and quickest, is with a passive test. These are generally short-term and most commonly consist of placing canisters filled with charcoal in the location you’d like to test and leaving them for a period of time (usually from 3-7 days). If radon exists it will cause chemical changes in the item in the canister that, when sent to the laboratory in the pre-paid mailer included with the product, can then be analyzed. However, because radon levels can change from day to day or season to season, the EPA recommends doing two back-to-back short-term tests to maximize your chances of more accurately assessing your situation.
A second type of short-term test is called an alpha track detector and contains a piece of foil, film, or plastic that is used to count the particles thrown off by the radon gas decaying. Each particle leaves a tiny dent in the surface and the marks are then counted in the laboratory so that a figure proportional to how much radon is in the space can then be calculated.
The active test is long-term and requires the use of electricity. These are more accurate than the short-term tests, remaining in the home for 90 days or more, and are more likely to give you an overall year-round average radon reading than a short-term test. These are continuous monitors that record data at least once an hour, in addition to monitoring its own operation. Some even record temperature, humidity, air pressure, and other variances in the locale. Though there are some long-term tests that are relatively inexpensive, the better ones cost more than short-term testing, with some kits costing up to $400, and many are best administered by a professional.
FIXING THE PROBLEM
Now that you know how to test for radon in your home, what do you do if you find that you have elevated radon levels? Though the initial thought of having such a deadly gas amongst your family can at first seem daunting, realize that hundreds of thousands of homeowners have been in your shoes and have already made their homes safe.
There are several options that can prevent radon from entering your home. If you find a definitive place of entry, such as a sump pump, around a pipe, or through a crack in your foundation, you can simply block its path. This is a low-cost solution, but may not provide complete protection, as it may be only one of many sources of entry. The EPA does not consider sealing to be a primary reduction technique.
A second option is to create a sort of fresh air bubble under the building, which pushes the radon gas away from the home. An average cost is around $600 but, while this can be effective, it is unpredictable and needs loose soil and careful sealing.
Most mitigation techniques will involve some sort of fan that will draw air from below the basement floor and exhaust it above the roof, thus drawing the danger out and around the home instead of allowing it to rise through it. This can be done for under $2000. If you have a crawl space under your home you can also add a layer of special plastic, which will be sealed to the perimeter walls, under which the exhaust pipe will lie further minimizing the possibility of exposure.
Regardless of your method of detection, identifying radon in your home and fixing the problem ensures that the home you live in remains safe and comfortable. Don’t fear if you discover radon in preparation for selling your home. Take measures to prevent its entry and it can be used as a selling point, not a deterrent. No matter if you’re buying, selling, or have owned your home for many years, testing for radon is a wise and health-saving option.
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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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.