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RADON

Health hazards from radon occur with long-term exposure. Radon is a naturally occuring soil gas. It is believed to be the greatest cause of lung cancer in non-smokers, and is estimated to cause 20,000 deaths per year. A certain amount of radon is found in all homes. It is found naturally in the atmosphere at approximately .5 Pci/L which is a measurement used to denote the percentage of Radon found in one liter of air.

The EPA recommends that all homes be tested for radon. A study published by the EPA late in 1988 shows 30% of all homes studied contained radon amounts that exceeded the agency's action level of 4 Pci/L. We advise clients that if they like the home, they should still purchase it even if it has elevated levels, as the radon can easily and inexpensively be reduced to a safe quantity. The cost of abatement in an existing home typically runs between $800-$1,500. At the present time we are attempting to educate residential home builders to incorporate passive radon resistant construction techniques during new construction for an additional $200-$300.

EPA guidelines for radon testing with real estate transactions require that a home be tested in the lowest finished or potential living space under closed house conditions for either a passive or active short term test for a minimum of 48 hours. There are many disadvantages of doing a short-term test as there are many conditions which can influence the radon level in a home during that short duration. Atmospheric conditions, seasonal influences, mechanical air movement (air conditioning, bath fans, dryer vents, etc.) and home owner interference can all impact the test results. Because real estate transactions are time sensitive, short-term testing is normally recommended.

A better, more realistic representation of the true average radon levels in a home would be achieved by conducting a long term test over a span of 3-12 months. Long term testing methods include Alpha Track and Electret Chamber devices. Short term test devices include passive (charcoal canisters) or active continuous monitors for a period not less than 48 hours. Both active and passive devices are considered equal for accuracy, though active devices have the advantage of detecting tampering with the testing device or closed home conditions.

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Should results above the EPA recommended action level of 4 Pci/L be found on an initial short term test, a second short term test is recommended to verify results. If the levels are still elevated, then mitigation by an state approved EPA contractor is recommended. It is also highly recommended that you use an EPA listed and approved radon measurement contractor to perform the testing.

Mitigation of radon gas coming from the ground.

The Active Soil Depressurization (ASD) system is the most common and effective method used today for reducing airborne radon levels.

This system depressurizes the soil beneath the concrete slab, effectively drawing in radon, as well as other soil gasses.

This is accomplished by penetrating the slab and installing suction points in one or more locations. 3"PVC pipe is then run from the suction point(s) to the exterior in a suitable manner.

An in-line exhaust fan is installed on the piping to draw in the radon and exhaust it safely above the roof of the building.

 
Typically radon levels can be reduced significantly with this method of mitigation. In one basement office where this system was recently installed radon levels went from 8.9 - 9.8 prior to installation to 0.4 - 1.0 after the installation, sampling from several areas of the basement.

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