Radon

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Radon is a naturally occuring odorless, colorless, inert gas that rapidly breaks down forming ionized radioactive decay elements;it is developed as uranium breaks down below the earths surface. High concentrations of radon are typically found in soils where granite and shale are present. As radon gas rises from the earth virtually everywhere, it mixes with the vast volumes of atmosphere(outdoor air) and is diluted resulting in very low concentrations. However, in an enclosed space such as inside a home, it can accumulate to levels which according to EPA may be hazardous to your health How Does Radon Become a Hazard? Radon enters a building through cracks, dirt floors, drains and porous concrete foundations. It is drawn into the home as air is sucked in by the furnace for combustion and then sent up the chimney. Air exits the chimney creating ,a partial vacuum. This is especially true during winter months when the ground is frozen and furnaces are blaring. The resulting pressure difference, draws air and radon from beneath the home through any available openings. Concentrations of radon will vary depending on the building's construction style and the amount of radon present in the soil underneath it. When Is Radon Considered a Hazard? EPA guidelines state that radon levels in indoor air should be kept below 4 pico curies per liter of air (4 pCi/l). Epa has established careful guidelines for action at 4 pCi/l i.e. mitigate within 11 months. At 19 pCi/l EPA recommends mitigating within 30 days. The assumption made by EPA in establishing 4 pCi/l as the action level is that 50% of the decay element will not be plated out and therefore be available to be breathed. In the Uranium industry uranium miners are allowed to be exposed to no more 16 pCi/l over an 8 hour period. In New England, the most cost-effective means of controlling radon levels is to install an active, semi active or passive ventilation systems. This system overcomes the vacuum effect and prevents the radon gas from entering the home. It's easy to solve! An active ventilation system draws air from beneath the building and vents it above the roofline. Inexpensive PVC pipes installed through the basement floor are connected by a manifold. The air is then directed to the roof vent via a single vertical pipe. A small radon removal fan may be installed to facilitate the air flow or at some concentrations the radon can be disapated passively. If the fan runs continually it will cost about $5 per month to operate. In a basement or crawl space with a dirt floor, the exposed soil is covered first with a polyethelene membrane (plastic) to create a barrier similar to that created by a concrete floor. The radon control system is then installed in the same manner. Once installed, the system collects air from beneath the plastic Radon mitigation systems range in cost from $750-$2,800- subject to the size of the property, concentration of radon and level of finish work required. The Installation Any home can be retrofit with a Radon Control System. Various installation options are used according to the structural design of the building and any limitations it may present. We recommned accomodations be made in any new homes to facilitate radon reduction which may be present after it is built. You can only test for radon after the proerty is complteted. How is radon Tested?Radon is collected in short term charcoal canisters or other devives which are sent to a lab for review. This method is frequently conducte at the same time as the home inspection and costs between $100 & $150. Electronic testing with devices left on premise can also be conducted. This method costs between $225 & $275. Radon is everywhere but its easy to get rid of.

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