When you think about the safety of your building, few people consider radon to be an issue, yet in many buildings it is present at levels that can cause cancer. Understanding radon and what steps you should take to deal will be covered in this article.
What is radon?
Radon is a colorless, odorless gas that is radioactive. It occurs when highly radioactive elements decay deep underground and occurs naturally in soils and bedrocks throughout the United States. It is the second most prevalent cause of lung cancer today. The EPA is the main agency charged with educating people about radon, and has created a Citizens Guide to Radon to provide details regarding radon and what to do about it.
How does radon enter my building and how do I test for it?
Radon can enter a building through any cracks or breaks in the subfloor such as water pipes and electrical conduits. According to the EPA, nearly one in 15 buildings has elevated levels of radon, which is defined as a measured level of > 4 pCi/l (a measurement of radiation per liter of air). The only way to know if radon is present is to test for it.
Radon test kits are commercially available or through state agencies. They are the only way to accurately measure the radon level in your home. There are two kinds of tests, a short-term and a long-term. The short-term test is a snapshot of the radon level over two to 90 days, depending on the design of the kit. The long-term test takes more than 90 days and gives a good indication of annual radon levels. To work properly, the directions must be followed exactly. A key is to place the test radon detectors in a room or closet on the lowest level of your building and minimize airflow into the space. When doing a short duration test, testing in winter generally is more accurate because outside air (which is radon free) is not mixed with the air in the space. Most counties and municipalities require radon testing before sale of a building.
If an elevated radon level is found in my home, what do I do about it?
Radon mitigation is a technique used by general contractors, builders, and other qualified businesses to remove and/or prevent radon from entering a building. Because radon seeps up from underneath your building, and it is difficult to properly seal every possible point where it can enter, most systems use passive or active ventilation of the soil underneath your building. They then exhaust the gas through pipes leading above your roof. In many cases, a 99 percent reduction in radon can be expected.
Key takeaways about radon
Radon can impact buildings throughout the United States and Europe. As a concerned homeowner or building manager, you should test for radon periodically, following the directions provided with the kit. If a dangerous level is discovered, contracting for radon mitigation is your best solution.
Read more about radon instruments and radon detectors from Radonova (EN). For Swedish customer you can use this link instead..
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