Tag Archives: radon

Radon Testing – How to Test and Remove Dangerous Radon Gas

Radon gas dangers in the home have become more prevalent, and can affect homeowners before radon is detected. Consider the story of Stanley, a nuclear power company employee from Pennsylvania. One day he arrived at work and the radiation monitors at the plant screamed an alarm. The experts were puzzled–how could Stan set off an alarm on his way in to work? The answer to this question brought to light one of the biggest environmental concerns of our time: Radon. It turns out Stan’s house had radon gas levels more than 500 times what was considered safe and Stan had carried the effects into work. Stan desperately needed a radon mitigation system to save himself and the health of his family.

What is Radon?

Radon is not an industrial chemical or synthetic creation. It occurs naturally when uranium in the soil breaks down, as do all organic compounds. If inhaled, radon can cause damage to lung tissues and can lead to lung cancer.

Although radon has been around since the dawn of time, it’s become a problem in the last 20 years or so, since the energy crisis led to the construction tighter more energy efficient homes. Years ago, when energy was cheap, homes were much draftier, and these built-in air leaks helped dilute indoor contaminants like radon to safe levels. However, as energy costs rose and home construction became tighter, indoor radon levels have also risen. Today, we need to pay close attention to our indoor air environment to make sure the air stays healthy and free of radon dangers.

Testing for radon gas is fairly simple. Within your own home, you can even do the test yourself. Many radon laboratories sell simple test kits, which usually come complete with a mailer to send the kit back to the company for analysis. However, if the house you’re testing is one you’re buying, some state laws require the test be done by a licensed radon testing company. Likewise, if your radon test reveals a high level of radon gas, a radon mitigation systems will be needed and should also be installed by an experience, licensed radon mitigation professional.

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How to do a Radon Test

All radon tests must be done in the basement or lowest livable level of the house and under closed building conditions. Except for normal entry and exit, this means all windows and doors, from the basement to the uppermost level of the house, must be closed for the entire test, which can be up to a week. While this may be difficult, especially in the summer, it is critical. If the windows are left open, a false high or low reading of radon dangers may result.

The most common types of radon gas tests are:

  • Charcoal Absorption Canister: This is the most common radon test available and usually the least expensive. The test consists of a charcoal-filled canister which is left in the home for a period of two to seven days. Then the test is sealed and sent to a laboratory for analysis. The lab will usually mail the result back to you within one week. This test method is relatively inexpensive and reliable if done properly. However, it can take up to three weeks from the start of the test until the result is received.
  • E-PERM Testing: E-PERM is short for Electret-Passive Environmental Radon Monitor. The way it works, however, is not as complicated as its name. As radon is formed, it gives off “ions” which produce a small electrical charge. The E-PERM is designed to measure the amount of electrical charge and convert this measurement into a radon level. Similar to charcoal canisters, this test for radon danger is usually done for two to seven days, but processing is much quicker as the testing company can usually produce a result within a day of the test completion.
  • Continuous Monitors: These devices are among the more expensive radon tests available but have several distinct advantages. Continuous monitors sample air over a minimum two-day period and can produce hourly radon readings. In addition to the test result being immediately available upon test completion, the hour-by-hour test result can be analyzed to check for unusual air patterns in the house. This test is often chosen by people buying a house to make sure the closed building condition requirement is met by the sellers.

Most importantly, if the radon test result comes in high, don’t panic. Most buildings can be modified to reduce radon gas to safe levels by installing a simple radon mitigation system. In newer buildings, partial radon mitigation systems are even required during construction, just in case they are needed later to reduce or eliminate radon dangers.

Tom Kraeutler is the Host, Founder and Chief Home Improvement Evangelist of The Money Pit. He is a hands-on home improvement broadcast journalist and the kind of guy homeowners want to call at midnight when their basement floods. He first earned his home improvement stripes as a professional home inspector, amassing over 20 years experience learning how houses are put together, and how they fall apart!

Author: Tom Kraeutler
Article Source: EzineArticles.com
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Radon and Your Health

These days, radon is a very talked about subject, but there are homeowners and renters who remain unaware of radon and the serious effects it can have on their health.

Radon is an invisible, silent, hazardous, and odorless radioactive gas that silently enters into your home. Radon is a direct result of the decaying of a small amount of uranium found in the earth’s crust. Radon tends to enter through small holes and cracks in the walls and floors of your foundation, or through utility lines openings, drains, sump openings. Radon spreads rather quickly. Once radon enters your basement it can quickly spread to the above levels and living spaces of your home. Once radon enters your home it can put you and your family, as well as your health in danger of poisoning.

Why is radon so dangerous?

Radon is a very dangerous and hazardous gas because it breaks down quickly and instantly spreads throughout the air. Because radon has the tendency to break down at a rapid speed, larger amounts of radon can be dangerous to you and your health. Radon poisoning can occur without your knowledge and within a short amount of time. As quickly as the gas spreads in your home, you and your family are at immediate risk of radon poisoning.

How can radon be found?

Radon in the largest sources is located in the soil around and under homes, but radon can also be in the water you drink, the building materials in your home, or in the air you breathe.

Can radon levels elevate?

Since radon comes directly from the soil under and around your home, any home is placed at risk, especially those that have a dirt crawl space. Basements that only have a dirt crawl space are at risk to being exposed to maximum levels of radon.

Can my home be exposed to radon if I have a concrete basement?

Even if your basement has a concrete floor it is also at risk of hosting maximum levels of radon.
How is radon measured?

There are radon detectors that can be installed and monitored by professionals. By having the radon in your home under a constant careful eye allows the levels of radon to be continuously measured. This will also protect you and your family from radon poisoning exposure.

If you are on a tight budget, here are inexpensive to moderately priced devices and special detection equipment on the market. These devices and special detection equipment is available in most hardware stores and home building centers around the country.

These devices and special detection equipment is placed in your home for several days. After several days, the detection system is removed and sent to a processing center or lab where tests are performed to determine if radon is in your home, if you and your family have been exposed, as well as the level of radon. Once all the tests have been processed, a report will be sent to you to confirm if you do or do not have radon in your home.

Can radon put me and my family at risk of serious health issues?

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, over 20,000 people die in the United States each year due to from radon related lung cancer. Men and women who smoke and have been exposed to the radioactive gas have a greater chance of developing lung cancer than those who do not smoke or use tobacco based products.

Studies have also shown, non-tobacco users and young children have a much higher chance of developing lung cancer when they have been exposed to the radioactive gas than those who have not been exposed, but young children tend to be more at risk of being exposed.

What is radon poisoning?

Since radon is the source of a decaying process, tiny radioactive particles are slowly and silently released into the air. Radon poisoning occurs when you inhale large mounts of high levels of the radioactive gas into your lungs. By breathing radon into your lungs it can cause moderate to severe damage to the lungs, resulting in lung cancer.

Why does radon poisoning occur?

Radon poisoning has a tendency to occur when crawl spaces, basements or mines are poorly encapsulated.

What are the signs of radon poisoning?

The Environmental Protection Agency has spent endless hours and money researching the symptoms and effects of this radioactive gas. There are indications to look for to tell if you and our family have been exposed to radon poisoning. Those symptoms are a persistent dry cough, hoarseness, respiratory infections, and respiratory issues.

What is the best way to confirm if I have been exposed to radon?

If you believe you or your family have been exposed to radon or if you are experiencing symptoms that you believe are from radon poisoning, it is best to seek medical attention. A physician will give you a complete check up, and run the appropriate tests to determine if you have been exposed to the radioactive gas, and what treatment will suit your specific needs.

How can I protect myself and my family from radon poisoning?

The United States Surgeon General’s office recommends all homeowners and landlords have their homes and rental properties tested for radon.

Solution

If you believe you and your family may have been exposed to radon it is best to contact a professional who can evaluate and properly test your home for radon. This will assure you and your family are safe from this radioactive gas.

Contact the radon experts at Interior Basement Systems for radon testing in Kelowna!

Author: Donna Kshir
Article Source: EzineArticles.com
Humorous photo captions

How to Protect Your Family From Radon Gas Poisoning in Your Home

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.

Author: Ira Potts
Article Source: EzineArticles.com
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Why You Must Check Your Home For Radon

Give Yourself a Chance

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.

Author: Samantha Walton
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.

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.