Radon is a naturally occurring gas that is radioactive and found throughout the atmosphere in trace amounts. Radon typically vents through the ground and can cause health issues, namely lung cancer. It is an inert, colorless and odorless gas that can not be detected by human senses. Instead, inspectors use device to determine the levels or radon in the air. Naturally occurring radon disperses easily in the atmosphere, however, the interior of the house can trap radon. Specifically in the lowest levels of the house, especially when there is limited ventilation.
The Different Variations of Radon Exposure
There are two main forms of radon exposure, humans come into contact with radon either in the air or in the water in the home. Both can be hazardous to your health, but most of this article will deal with the airborne variation of radon. Further reading and investigating is recommended. However, directly below will be a brief description of both.
Airborne: Radon is created when Uranium breaks down. This means that radon levels are higher in areas that contain high amounts of uranium. Typically, the closer to mountains or hills that the home is, the greater the likelihood for radon. Radon can cause bodily mutation and is the second leading cause for lung cancer in the United States after smoking. Because of the nature of radon, it must be detected by specific devices. The only way to truly know if the house has high amounts of radon is to properly test for radon.
Water: Radon is not a concern when it comes to water that originates from lakes or reservoirs as it normally has enough time to dissipate into the air. Radon is found underground and can contaminate wells. Getting the water tested for potability and radon every few years is always a great idea. But it is highly recommended to get the well tested before you buy a home. Understanding all the components of the house is critical in the buying process. And radon in water can still cause all the same health issues as airborne radon. If you are interested in more information, there are plenty of EPA articles that you can read.
How to Find Radon Levels.
Radon testing is rather simple, but it requires the appropriate device to detect the levels of radon. Getting a radon test requires only the device to be set by a qualified inspector. There are several kinds of limited use tests that can be bought online and performed at home. You can get fairly accurately short term readings of radon, with an at home without the use of a professional, however, the pricing for the accurate kits are comparatively priced with most professional testing services. If you are looking for more information, there are loads of resources online.
The two main types of testing are short and long term tests. Most tests are conducted on the short time frame. A device is left for a few days on the lowest living level of the house to take air readings. The house has to remain closed to air flow for the testing to be accurate. However, due to the nature of how radon moves and fluctuates, long term testing is much more representative to actual radon levels of the home. Most short term radon tests are conducted in a few days, with a minimum of 48 hours. Whereas long term radon testing typically takes 90 day, but does not require the house to be closed to air flow.
How to Reduce and Remediate Radon.
If the radon inspection comes back with higher than recommended levels of radon, then there are a few steps that need to take place to properly remediate. The first is sealing up the slab on lowest level of the house which is typically the basement. Making sure that there are no large gaps and cracks throughout the slab and the foundation will help reduce where the radon is gaining entry to the living space.
After sealing the slab, installing a sub-slab depressurized system is typically the next stage. These systems will be installed in a large hole drilled into the slab of the foundation, and allow the radon to be funneled through one controlled area. If the house is already equipped with a sump pump system, the installation of the depressurized system will typically be installed in the sump crock.
The system will then either be an active system, which uses an electric motor fan to circulate the radon air outside of the house, or a passive system. The passive system is a single pipe that allows for radon to naturally disperse outside of the house. Both systems have specific requirements for where the pipe must terminate outside of the house, and the pipe must go past the roofline. Radon systems tend to go outside of the house at the basement level, then the piping proceeds upwards past the eaves of the roof.
Though passive systems are effective, typically it is active systems that are installed in current installations. Both systems have very specific installation standards, and should be installed by appropriately licensed contractors. Anytime there is a modification to the foundation, it is best to let professionals take care of it.