Tag Archives: radon

All About Radon

You have probably heard the term “radon” floating around recently, most likely in connection with real estate. But what is radon? Why is it getting so much attention? And do you really need to get your home tested for it?

Radon is a tasteless, odorless, colorless gas that occurs naturally everywhere in the environment, all over the world. It is a radioactive gas that is produced when radium decays. While there are some areas of the globe that naturally experience higher concentrations of the gas, in most outdoor locations there is a sufficient amount of ventilation so as to minimize any effects that the gas would cause. The situation indoors however, is another story. Inside, radon gas can have a dramatic affect on air quality, especially in more tightly enclosed or less ventilated indoor spaces like basements, etc. Over time the amount of radon gas in these enclosed spaces can build up causing a threat to any who inhabit the space.

Exposure to radon is actually quite dangerous. Radon is a carcinogen, or cancer causing gas. The EPA has estimated that radon is responsible for thousands of lung cancer deaths each year. In fact, many sources have noted, that, its cancer-causing affects are surpassed only by cigarette smoke. Radon is one of the primary causes for lung cancer in the United Sates. Fortunately, in almost all cases, these cancer-causing affects can be avoided. Currently the EPA estimates that one in every 15 homes in the United States has radon levels that are above the recommended limit.

What is the recommended radon limit? What do you need to do to make sure that your home is not full of cancer-causing radon gas? The answer is quite simple. The only way to know where your house stands with radon is to have it tested. Or if you are building a new home, you can help prevent radon build-up by requesting that the builders use radon-resistant techniques. These radon-resistant techniques have been proven to reduce the amount of radon in the air, and they are often less expensive to install while a home is under construction than they are to add to an existing home.

The maximum recommended radon limit is 4 picoCuries per liter (pCi/L). That means if your house tests at 4 pCi/L or higher you will definitely want to take repairable action. And while the EPA has strongly recommended that people whose homes test at 4 pCi/L or higher seek mitigation for their homes, they have even encouraged people whose homes test at 2 pCi/L to look into repairative measures.

There is a cost to have your home tested for radon, but the process is fairly simple and non-invasive. A radon collector is placed in the lowest living space in your home (often the basement) for a range of 2 to 7 days. The only thing you will need to do while the collector is in your home is to ensure that the reading device is not blocked. After the selected time period has elapsed, the collected data will be sent to a lab for testing. Then within a few days to a few weeks you will get your results. If your homes tests at a level under the recommended 4 pCi/L, taking further preventative action will be up to you. However, if your home tests above the recommended 4 pCi/L, it is strongly encouraged that you have mitigation devices installed.

Mitigation is more costly than radon testing. Getting your home properly mitigated can cost you anywhere from a few hundred dollars all the way up to a few thousand dollars. And while that may seem a bit pricey, the benefits far out weight the costs.

First of all, there is the more obvious health benefit. Having your home properly mitigated significatnly decreases the likelihood that you or your family will contract radon-related lung cancer. For many people, this point alone is enough of a reason to take the appropriate action.

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For those who require additional inspiriation, it most often comes in the form of real estate. More and more people are becoming aware of radon and the need for testing. New home buyers are regularly encouraged to ask about radon testing in the homes they are looking to purchase. Because of this it is recommended that anyone looking to sell their home have it properly tested for radon and get it mitigated if needed. Several home sales have been lost or had the sale price greatly reduced because the home for sale was not properly mitigated. Today’s home buyers want their homes tested, and they want appropriate proof of the result.

There are a variety of ways that a home can be properly mitigated. The method used will depend largely upon how much radon reduction is required and will be determined on a case by case basis. Some of the more typical mitigation options include:

o adding a gas permeable layer underneath your home (a layer-often gravel-is placed beneath the flooring system to allow soil gasses to move more freely)
o plastic sheathing is used in crawlspaces to hep prevent radon gases from entering the home
o any openings found in the foundation are sealed to prevent gas from entering the home
o a 3 to 4 inch gas-tight PVC pipe is installed running from the gas permeable layer of a home (usually the basement) out through the roof to increase radon ventilation

Radon testing and mitigation can seem like a daunting endeavor, and the very real potential threat of lung cancer can be quite frightening. Fortunately the solution to this issue is not only valuable, it is also fairly simple and pain free. Radon testing is too important to be ignored and should be done, if not for your physical health, then at the very least for your financial health as a homeowner and potential home seller. You need to become familiar with radon gas, and radon testing. So whether you own a home, are looking to buy a home, or are planning to sell your home, you can’t afford not to have your home tested.

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Author: Dennis Kanakis
Article Source: EzineArticles.com
Solar panel, solar power

Home Inspection Tips – Lowering Radon Levels

It’s possible a home inspection will reveal the existence of radon gas seeping up through the ground into the living area of the home you want to buy. Radon is known for causing lung cancer, so you don’t want it around. What can you do to decrease the seriousness of the problem? In other words, what do you do to mitigate the radon threat?

Radon resistant techniques can be simple and passive and will lower radon levels when done properly. They can lower levels of moisture and other soil gasses, too. Radon resistant techniques have the additional benefit of making your home more energy efficient and can help you save on energy costs. Save money when a home is first built by not having to deal with the problem later if these techniques are put into place with common building materials.

Even in a new home, radon testing should be done to be sure the level is below 4 pCi/L. If radon levels are high, a passive system can be turned into what’s called an active system by adding a vent fan to reduce radon levels.

You’ll need to find someone who is considered to be a qualified radon mitigator to install radon resistant techniques, whether your home is new or not. Costs will vary, but should be similar to other home repairs you may need to have done.

What are these radon resistant techniques? It’s important to note that this depends on your home’s foundation. Also, if you’re having a house built, ask your builder if they’re using EPA’s recommended approach.

The first radon resistant technique of note is a gas-permeable layer, which is used only in homes with casement and slab-on-grade foundations. It is not used in homes with crawlspace foundations. It usually consists of a four inch layer of clean gravel placed under the slab or flooring system. It’s meant to allow the gas to move freely under the house. Plastic sheeting is placed on top of the gas permeable layer and under the slab to help prevent the soil gas from getting into the home

When a home has crawl spaces, plastic sheeting is placed over the crawlspace floor. This serves as a moisture barrier as well.

Sealing and caulking is another technique. Any below-grade openings in the concrete foundation floor are sealed to reduce the amount of soil gases getting into the home.

When there’s a gas-permeable layer under the home, a vent pipe is put into the gravel and runs through the house and to the roof to vent gases away from the living area. The pipe used is a 3- or 4-inch gas-tight or PVC pipe, or other gas-tight pipe.

If it’s necessary to use a vent fan to reduce high radon levels, an electrical junction box is included in the attic to make the wiring and installation of a vent fan easier. A separate junction box is put in the living space to power the vent fan alarm. That’s because an alarm is installed along the vent fan to indicate when that fan isn’t operating properly.

Your home inspector or other qualified radon mitigation professional should know the best place to put radon test equipment. It should go into the lowest level of the home that’s occupied regularly, such as any place used as a bedroom, play or exercise area, den or workshop. The EPA says testing should not be done in a closet, stairway, hallway, crawl space or in an enclosed area where there’s either high humidity or breezy air circulation. Avoid places like the kitchen, laundry room,bathroom or furnace room.

There’s no way to accurately know the level of radon in the home you’re building, buying or selling unless radon testing is done. Be sure your home inspector or other qualified professional can do the testing for you. You don’t have to put your family’s health at risk from radon.

You’ve carefully selected the home you’re buying. Make sure you’re as careful when selecting your home inspector. Don’t get stuck paying for repairs missed by a quick home inspection. Author David Haigh is a professional home inspector in NJ. Click now to view a free sample report of a New Jersey home inspection.

Author: David Haigh
Article Source: EzineArticles.com
Lowest price PCB Prototype

Radon Remediation Explained

One of the major health hazards and Radon dangers that are often present in an invisible, odorless as well as tasteless manner is the presence of Radon in a building which is a danger that needs to be removed and eliminated without delay if you don’t want to end up suffering from lung cancer. Mostly, radon gets into a building through the floor and to reduce the risks you can either try or prevent the Radon gas from entering the building, or you can extract it from the building.

The best Radon remediation technique is the one that addresses a particular instance of Radon presence in the building, and so you may need to choose one or combination of methods to get rid of Radon in the home. However, the easiest way is preventive Radon remediation for which you would need to seal all gaps and cracks as well as the joints under the building’s floors. For this method to succeed, you need to ensure that you can seal everything so that no Radon gas can enter into the home.

You can also use extractive Radon remediation techniques, which are sometimes known as soil suction and which is a very common method of remediation in which you need to make use of cavities that are of the size of a bucket and which are called sumps. These cavities can be connected to a pipe network that leads out of the building. Furthermore, the sump helps in changing pressure differentials between the interior of the building and its exterior through lowering the pressure in the building’s exterior. With the help of a fan, the air below the building is sent into a pipe system and thus extracted out of the building.

This may be a slightly more expensive Radon remediation technique, but it is certainly very effective and thus well worth choosing.

I recently wanted to test my home and I went to a site that helped me a great deal. I was able to buy an affordable home test kit and I received my order within 2 or 3 days. I found them to be very friendly to deal with and very helpful. Go there now to get yourself a simple home test kit – just click here

Author: Charles Berkley
Article Source: EzineArticles.com
Excise Tax

Radon Facts – What It Is And Why It Should Be Tested For In Your Home

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.

http://www.BeSafePlus.com

Author: Renee Grasso
Article Source: EzineArticles.com
Alternative energy

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.

Radon – an introduction

Radon - 222
Radon - 222

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.

How radon gets into your home!!!

how radon enters a home
how radon enters a home

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.