Friday, February 26, 2010

How to interpret radon test results. Post 6 of 7

It should be noted that the EPA believes that any radon exposure carries some risk of causing lung cancer; no level of radon can be called safe.  As stated in the post “is radon a health hazard” the Surgeon General has warned that radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the US.   Even radon levels below the EPA guideline of 4 pCi/L pose some risk; you can reduce your risk of lung cancer by lowering the radon level in your home.

The following are the general recommendations based on the results of radon testing. The amount of radon in the air is measure in “picocuries of radon per liter of air” or “pCi/L”.

Short term testing with levels LESS THAN 4.0 pCi/L - The EPA does not recommend any follow up action or mitigation.

Short-term testing with levels NEAR 4.0 pCi/L - A second short term test may be in order.  If you do a 2nd short-term test the 2 values should be averaged and if the average is LESS THAN 4 pCi/L no follow up action or mitigation is recommended.

Short term testing with levels EQUAL TO or GREATER THAN 4.0 pCi/L- The EPA recommends mitigation to reduce radon levels.

Some additional information about radon levels and recommendations by the EPA
The average indoor radon level is estimated to be about 1.3 pCi/L and the outdoor level is estimated to be about 0.4 pCi/L.  The US Congress has set a long-term goal that indoor radon levels be no more than outdoor levels.  While this goal is not yet technologically achievable in all cases, most homes today can be reduced to 2.0 pCi/L or less.


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Pillar to Post uses professional radon monitoring devices which have been classified as a "Continuous Radon Monitor" testing devices which have been evaluated and accepted by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The unit must be in place for a minimum of 48 hours.

My next post will address the mitigation methods used in home with high radon levels.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Radon testing methods. Post 5 of 7

Since we are unable to see or smell radon, special equipment is needed to detect it. There are two types of radon testing devices, passive and active and the differences are listed below. You can also choose a short-term test (usually 2 to 5 days) or a long-term test (longer than 90 days)

Testing Devices

Passive Radon Testing Devices
  • Do not need power to function.
  • Include charcoal canisters, alpha-track detectors, and charcoal liquid scintillation devices that are exposed to the air in your home for a specific amount of time and are then sent to a laboratory for analysis.
Active Radon Testing Devices
  • Require power to function.
  • Continuously measure and record radon in the air, making radon spikes and dips more apparent.
  • Include continuous working level monitors and continuous radon monitors.
  • May include anti-interference features that reveal if the unit is moved during testing.
  • Generally considered to be more reliable than passive radon devices.
  • Normally used only by home inspectors and air quality professionals.
Testing Methods

Short-term radon testing:

Short term tests typically last between 2 – 5 days depending on the device. The testing requires that the home be closed up except for typical entry and exit patterns. Because radon levels vary from day to day and season to season, a short term test is less live to give you an accurate indication of the year round average.
Advantages of short-term testing: Quick results, less expensive

Long-term radon testing:

Long term tests last more than 90 days and require the use of specific testing devices. A long-term test is more likely to give you a more accurate indication of your actual radon level and exposure.
Advantages of long-term testing: more accurate measurements

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Pillar to Post uses professional radon monitoring devices which have been classified as a "Continuous Radon Monitor" testing devices which have been evaluated and accepted by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The unit must be in place for a minimum of 48 hours.
My next post will discuss how to test for radon and interpret the results.

How does radon enter a home? Post 4 of 7

How does radon get into your home?

Radon is a radioactive gas that is created during the natural decay of uranium that is found in nearly all soils.  The radon gas moves up through the ground and mixes with the air above then the radon typically enters your home through gaps, cracks and other holes in the foundation such as: cracks in solid floors, constructions joints, cracks in walls, gaps in suspended floors, gaps around service pipes and cavities in walls.   As the radon moves upwards it gets diluted with outside air which enters the home through cracks, openings (doors and windows) and other penetrations.  This means that the highest levels of radon are typically found in the lowest occupied portion of the home.

The amount of radon to which you may be exposed is directly related to several things:
  • Where in the home you spend the majority of your time.
  • How much fresh outside air typically enters the home during the day.
  • Seasonal habits such as open windows, use of fans, evaporative coolers, etc.
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Pillar to Post uses professional radon monitoring devices which have been classified as a "Continuous Radon Monitor" testing devices which have been evaluated and accepted by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The unit must be in place for a minimum of 48 hours.



My next post will discuss the different testing methods available.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Is radon a problem in my home? Post 3 of 7

This is the 3rd blog post in a series about radon in your home:

Radon gas is present in nearly all air.  We all breathe radon every day, usually at very low levels. It is released into the air from the decay of uranium in most soil, rock and water. Radon can be found all over the US and it can be found in any type of building.  You and your family are most susceptible to the negative effects of radon if you are exposed to high levels in your home where you spend most of your time. It is estimated that nearly 1 out of every 15 homes in the US have elevated radon levels.

The concentration of radon does vary by geographical area.  The US Environmental Protection Agency has broken up the US map by zones.  A copy of that map can be found at http://www.epa.gov/radon/zonemap.html .
The zones are defined as follows:
Zone 1 (Red) Highest Potential – the predicted average indoor radon screening level is greater than 4 pCi/L
Zone 2 (Orange) Moderate Potential - the predicted average indoor radon screening level is between 2 and 4 pCi/L
Zone 3 (Yellow) Low Potential - the predicted average indoor radon screening level is below 2 pCi/L

This map is the EPA Radon map of Colorado. As you can see the majority of Colorado is in Zone 1 which has the highest potential for predicted indoor averages over the EPA limit of 4.0 pCi/L. 

This map only indicates the POTENTIAL for high levels of radon in your home.  The only way to determine the levels in an individual home is through testing.  Testing methods will be addressed in a later post.  Indoor radon levels are directly affected by the soil composition under and around the house, and the ease with which radon enters a house.  Homes that are next door to each other can have different indoor radon levels.  Other conditions can cause radon levels to vary from month to month and day to day.

US Environmental Protection Agency   www.epa.gov/radon
National Cancer Institute www.cancer.gov


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 Call 303-284-6354 or email judy.browne@pillartopost.com to schedule your radon test today!


Pillar to Post uses professional radon monitoring devices which have been classified as a "Continous Radon Monitor" testing devices which have been evaluated and accepted by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The unit must be in place for a minimum of 48 hours.

My next post will discuss how radon enters your home…

Monday, February 8, 2010

Is radon a health hazard? Post 2 of 7

Radon is considered a Group A carcinogen which means it is known to cause cancer in humans with prolonged exposure. It has been determined that radon is the 2nd leading cause of lung cancer in the United States.  While the link between radon exposure and lung cancer has been verified ongoing studies are being performed to better determine the increased risk associated with increased levels of radon.

In June 2003, the EPA revised it’s risk estimates for radon exposure in homes. EPA estimates that about 21,000 annual lung cancer deaths are radon related.  EPA also concluded that the effects of radon and cigarette smoking are synergistic, with smokers being at a much greater risk from radon.

The US Environmental Protection Agency and Surgeon General recommend that people not have long term exposure in excess of 4.0 Pico Curies per liter (4.0 pCi/L).

 Radon’s negative health affects have been verified by carefully controlled studies on animals, hard-rock miners and most recently has been confirmed in residential case-controlled studies.  You can read this study, Residential Radon Gas Exposure and Lung Cancer – The Iowa Radon Lung Cancer Study, here http://aje.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/reprint/151/11/1091.pdf .

According to the National Cancer Institute radioactive particles from radon can damage cells that line the lungs and lead to lung cancer. The presence of radon in your home can pose a danger to your family's health.  In 2005 the Surgeon General released a National Health Advisory on Radon recommending testing of all homes. You can read that press release here: http://www.surgeongeneral.gov/pressreleases/sg01132005.html

References

American Journal of Epidemiology Journal of Epidemiology Link
Colorado Department of Health and Environment Colorado Radon Link
US Environmental Protection Agency www.epa.gov/radon
National Cancer Institute www.cancer.gov


SPECIAL OFFER
Professional Radon Test
ONLY $99 Feb 2010
(regularly $135)

 Call 303-284-6354 or email judy.browne@pillartopost.com to schedule your radon test today!


Pillar to Post uses professional radon monitoring devices which have been classified as a "Continous Radon Monitor" testing devices which have been evaluated and accepted by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The unit must be in place for a minimum of 48 hours.

My next post will discuss where radon is found in the US

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Radon - What is it? Post 1 of 7

Radon (pronounced /ˈreɪdɒn/, RAY-don) is a chemical element with symbol Rn and atomic number 86. It is a radioactive, colorless, odorless, tasteless noble gas, occurring naturally as the decay product of radium.  (from Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radon)

Radon is a radioactive gas that is released from the normal decay of uranium in rocks and soils.  Uranium is found in nearly all soils everywhere in the U.S.  Radon is invisible, colorless, odorless and tasteless and seeps up through the ground and diffuses into the air. Radon gas can accumulate in buildings, especially in confined areas such as attics, and basements. It can also be found in some spring waters and hot springs. It is often the single largest contributor to an individual's background radiation dose, and is the most variable from location to location.

Here are some facts about radon:
Elevated levels of radon are found in both new and old buildings
Radon can be found in buildings other than homes.
Radon can be found in homes built on all types of foundations, including crawlspaces and slab-on-grade basements.
Radon is a concern throughout out the US
Radon can vary from house to house.  The only way to know how much radon may be in your house is to have it tested.

References
Wikipedia   Wikipedia Link
US Environmental Protection Agency EPA Link
Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment Colorado Radon Info

My next post will discuss the affects of radon on your health.

SPECIAL OFFER
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(regularly $135)

 Call 303-284-6354 or email judy.browne@pillartopost.com to schedule your radon test today!


Pillar to Post uses professional radon monitoring devices which have been classified as a "Continous Radon Monitor" testing devices which have been evaluated and accepted by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The unit must be in place for a minimum of 48 hours.