Check out this podcast from WDEL for important facts about radon and how to protect yourself.
WHAT IS RADON?
Radon is a known Killer. It is the #2 cause of lung cancer behind smoking. Radon gas is colorless, odorless and undetectable by the average human. Testing is the only way to know if the levels are average or high. In this area, we are aware of levels as high as 177 PCi/L (picocuries curies per liter). In some areas, the local radon office reports 1 in 4 homes with levels above 4 PCi/L.
Radon gas - even the name sounds ominous. Radon is created when uranium in the soil decays. The gas seeps through any access point into a home. Common entry points are cracks in the foundation, poorly sealed pipes, drainage or any other loose point. Once in the home, the gas can collect in certain areas especially basements and other low lying, closed areas and build up over time to dangerous levels. The Environmental Protection Agency of the U.S. Government has set a threshold of 4 picocuries per liter of air as the safe level. As humans are exposed to the gas over a period of years, it can have significant, and detrimental effects.
How widespread is the problem? Radon has been found in homes in all 50 states. Certain areas are more susceptible than others. Concentrations of radon-causing materials in the soil can be either natural or manmade. Homes built near historic mining operations may be at higher risk. The only way to tell for sure is to have your home tested.
Radon testing comes in two forms: active and passive:
Active devises constantly measure the levels of radon in a portion of your home and display those results.
Passive devices collect samples over a period of time and then are taken away and analyzed. Either method can help you determine your level of risk. Do-it-yourself kits are available from a number of outlets, normally with passive devices. Over a period of days, the device is left in the lowest level of the home which is normally occupied. This eliminates crawl spaces under the house, but includes finished or unfinished basements. Then the results are analyzed by a professional. The other option is to engage a qualified professional to conduct the tests properly.
The EPA web site provides information on finding an appropriate resources and testing devices. Professional tests usually yield faster results and are conducted by trained individuals.
If high concentrations of radon are found in your home, you have several options. Since radon is only a problem when it is concentrated in high volume, improving the ventilation in an area is often sufficient to solve the problem. In other cases, it may be necessary to limit the amount of radon seeping into the home by sealing or otherwise obstructing the access points. Once again, a professional should be engaged to ensure the radon is effectively blocked. Typical radon mitigation systems can cost between $800 and $2500, according to the EPA. Call us for a free radon inspection bid today.
If you're buying or selling a home, radon can be a significant issue. Buyers should be aware of the radon risk in their area and determine whether a radon test is needed. When in doubt, the EPA always recommends testing. The cost of the test can be built into the house price. If test results already exist, make sure they are recent or that the home has not been significantly renovated since the test was performed. If in doubt, get a new test done. If your selling a home, having a recent radon test is a great idea. By being proactive, you can assure potential buyers is no risk and avoid the issue from the start.
So whether you have an old home or a new one, live in an old mining town or in the middle of the Great Plains, radon is a reality. But it is a reality that we can live with. Proper radon testing and mitigation can eliminate radon as a health threat. For more information, visit the EPA web site.
Was Your System Installed Properly?
"To prevent re-entrainment of radon, the point of discharge from vents of fan-powered soil depressurization and block wall depressurization systems shall meet all of the following requirements:
(1) be above the eave of the roof, (2) be ten feet or more above ground level, (3) be ten feet or more from any window, door, or other opening into conditioned spaces of the structure that is less than two feet below the exhaust point, and (4) be ten feet or more from any opening into an adjacent building. The total distance (ten feet) from the point of discharge to openings in the structure may be measured either directly between the two points or be the sum of measurements made around intervening obstacles. Whenever possible, the exhaust should be positioned above the highest eave of the building and as close to the roof ridge line as possible."
Radon Health Risk Information
Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer, after smoking. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Surgeon General strongly recommend taking further action when the home's radon test results are 4.0 pCi/L (.02 WL) or greater. The national average indoor radon level is about 1.3 pCi/L. The higher the home's radon level the greater the health risk to you and your family. Reducing your radon levels can be done easily, effectively and fairly inexpensively. Even homes with very high radon levels can be reduced below 4.0pCi/L. For further information about reducing elevated radon levels, please refer to the "Pennsylvania's Consumer's Guide to Radon Reduction".
The Radon Certification Act Requires that anyone who provides any radon-related service or product to the general public must be certified by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection. You are entitled to evidence of certification from any person who provides such services or products. You are also entitled to a price list of services or products offered. All radon measurements data will be sent to the department as required in the act and will be kept confidential. If you have any questions, comments or complaints concerning persons who provide radon-related services, please contact the department at the Bureau of Radiation Protection, Department of Environmental Protection, P.O. Box 8469, Harrisburg, PA 17105-8469, (717) 783-3594 or (800) 237-2366.