Thursday, December 29th, 2011 by Francine Maglione
Radon is a naturally occurring gas that is released from soil. Because it is a radioactive carcinogen gas, it can be dangerous to people if it travels up into their homes. Radon is responsible for 20,000 lung cancer deaths each year, making it the second-leading cause of lung cancer (behind smoking). Luckily, there are ways to lessen the amount of radon in a home and prevent the contraction of lung cancer from radon. Radon mitigation in Minnesota and all across the country has become a common service that a number of contractors can provide now.
There are a number of methods contractors use to lower a home’s radon levels. Radon is measured by picocuries per liter (pCi/L) and the EPA recommends mitigating any building with a radon measurement at or above 4.0 pCi/L. Some mitigation techniques are designed to prevent radon from entering your home, while others simply reduce the home’s current radon levels. No matter what method you choose, it is important to have the work performed by a certified professional radon mitigation contractor to ensure it gets done correctly.
Your heating and cooling system may be distributing radon gas throughout your home. According to the EPA, radon gas is approximately 7.5 times heavier than air but is influenced by air movements and pressure. The EPA recommends using mitigation methods that prevent radon entry including soil suction, which draws the radon from below the house and vents it out through a pipe to the air above the house where it is quickly diluted. Other radon mitigation techniques are sealing, house/room pressurization, heat recovery ventilation, and natural ventilation. Radon gas is typically discharged through a home’s roof and into the air in order to decrease concentration levels.
The concentration of radon gas at its discharge point can be tens of thousands of picocuries per minute, according to the EPA. However, radon concentration can begin to approach safer background levels at just three to four feet from its discharge point. Once radon gas gets out into the open, it is no longer a threat. Only when the gas becomes concentrated trapped inside a house does it become a carcinogen. The EPA prohibits ground-level discharge of radon because this could allow the gas to re-enter the home, and it can also be a danger to children. Discharging radon gas through a home’s roof is the most efficient way to remove radon.
Before radon mitigation takes place, a home must receive radon testing. Although there are do-it-yourself home testing kits for radon, it is recommended that homeowners use a certified professional. Trained radon contractors can get a more accurate radon measurement and get the results to the homeowner faster than a DIY kit. After the initial measurement in the lowest living space of the house shows a high level of radon, a second measurement is taken in another living space. If the tests all show an elevated radon level, the radon specialist will recommend a radon mitigation system specifically designed for that home.
If you need radon abatement in Minnesota, contact your local National Radon Defense contractor. NRD dealers go through extensive training and certification to perform professional radon mitigation in Minnesota and across the country.
See Dr. Oz discuss the dangers of radon with Rebecca Morley, Executive Director of NCHH.