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Most of us plan to see our investments grow, comfortably retire in good health, see our children through college or university, get some grand children to play with and to pass our values on, or simply enjoy life. Yet, it is estimated that every year more than 21,000 people are dying of radon-produced lung cancer in the United States only.
Radon comes from the natural breakdown of uranium in soils and rocks and has been classified by International Agency for Research on Cancer as being carcinogenic to humans, even though some people go to so called “health mines”, radioactive water baths or “radon spas” to seek a remedy for their arthritis or to get “energized”, but they only sit there for a limited amount of time, few days a year.
There is no safe threshold for Radiation Exposure and that exposure should be limited to as low as reasonably achievable. Spending everyday in a high level radon radiation environment will not fail to show its Adverse Effects.
What is Radon?
Radon is a colorless, odorless, radioactive gas which may be shortening your life by slowly getting into your home through cracks and holes in the foundation or floor slab. The only way to find out is to measure the level of radon radiation in your home.
Fortunately, a number of fairly inexpensive and accurate methods such as Activated Charcoal Canisters, Alpha Track Detection Kits, Electret-Passive Environment Radon Monitor, and Safety Siren Radon Detectors are readily available.
The Most Cost-Effective Method is using a safety siren radon detector. A reading of more than 2 pCi/L is a clear indication that you must take action to mitigate the levels of radon within your home. In Canada and elsewhere the measurement unit may by Bq/m3. Do not get confused, 1 pCi/L = 37 Bq/m3 and a reading of more that 72 Bq/m3 calls for action.
Although radon gas is almost 8 times heavier than air, do not make the false assumption that it will just stay in your basement and your will be safe, because the HVAC system does an amazing job at pushing it to all levels of your home. Radon kills slowly and the effects can only be seen after 5 to 25 years, depending on the amount of radiation you are being exposed to. You definitely must do more than just hope for the best.
Here are the radon maps for:
The solution can encompass one or a combination of the following methods: natural ventilation of the home, Heat Recovery Ventilation Systems, Sealing and Caulking all the openings in the concrete foundation floor and radon entry routes, basement pressurization, block-wall or drain-tile fan suction, sub-slab depressurization, apply a deep-penetrating concrete sealer.
Natural ventilation of the home and/or heat recovery ventilation system may show some results in conjunction with sealing and caulking all the openings in the concrete foundation floor and radon entry routes, if the radon levels are below 5 pCi/L or 185 Bq/m3.
Block-wall suction with a fan is suitable for basements with hollow block walls when used in conjunction with sealing and caulking all the openings in the concrete foundation floor and radon entry routes.
Drain-tile suction with a fan works best if drain tiles form a complete loop around the basement and should be complemented by sealing and caulking all the openings in the concrete foundation floor and radon entry routes.
Sub-slab depressurization technique has been found to be the most effective, so far. By installing an In-Line Radon Fan along with a vent pipe you would get a so called fan-based radon mitigation system. The system creates low pressure under the basement slab by pumping and venting the radon outside the home.
Regardless of the method you choose, radon levels should be continuous monitored. Be aware that the level of radon radiation does vary within certain limits from season to season. For example one should expect to see a raise in these levels during winter time, when the ground is frozen and covered by snow and underground gases cannot easily escape into the atmosphere.
Radon-Resistant Construction Techniques
If you are building a new home, here are typical radon-resistant construction techniques which will definitely minimize the risk of getting radon in your home:
- install a 4-inch layer of clean gravel gas permeable layer underneath the basement floor slab
- install a plastic sheeting on top of the gas permeable layer to help prevent the soil gas from entering the home
- seal and caulk all openings in the concrete foundation floor, as soon as the concrete floor cures and install a vent pipe from the gas permeable layer to the roof to vent radon above the house
- install an electrical junction box near the vent pipe just in case an in-line radon fan must be installed later on.
After occupancy, you should definitely take a reading of the radon level within your home. Should the reading is more than 2 pCi/L you must take action to mitigate the levels of radon within your home.
Although nobody seams to have got out alive from this life, we all have to do our best to enjoy a long and happy journey. We owe it to ourselves and to our loved ones!
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