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Sun Nuclear CRM questions


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Dad just sold his house and is asking me questions about the results of his buyer's inspection. Mercifully, the buyer's attorney has only forwarded a few pages of the report.

My questions are regarding the radon screening. Here we go:

If a Sun Nuke does hourly readings does it generate a chart or graph?

Do you report the hourly readings, an average, or just the peak?

Would you report the peak reading as actionable (4.5) and in the same report state the hourly readings are normal, or is this inspector as dweeby as I think?

According to Dad, the CRM was placed next to the well equipment (the water line enters through a PVC sleeve in the block wall) and near a floor drain. According to the report the CRM was placed following protocol and the likely entry points are "floor cracks". Is placing a CRM between openings through the foundation really protocol or did this guy try to get a high reading?

The only way I can sanitize this thing is to print it and redact it. If you need some encouragement to bang your head against the wall I can email you a copy.

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The Sun Nuclear machine can record readings at different intervals. Hourly is one choice. The machine provides data, not a report. If the inspector is using the Sun Nuclear software, it produces a chart by default. But he doesn't have to use that software, he can export the data to some other proprietary reporting system that might or might not include a chart.

The SN software reports the hourly readings, the overall average and the EPA average (ignoring the first 4 hours). The EPA average is "considered" to be the more accurate.

He should not report the peak reading as actionable, only the average (preferably the EPA average).

The machine should be placed on the lowest habitable level - even if that level or space is not finished.

In many ways, the EPA protocol itself is "trying to get a high reading." The idea is that, since you've only got 48 hours, you try to create worse case conditions for those 48 hours.

If the peak reading was 4.5, what was the average?

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Jim is right about the hourly readings. SN can be set to differ, but most are hourly. the data can be downloaded to their software or just produce a "cash register" style bar graph. Placement is important, as is calibration of that individual device.

the goal is not to find radon and really I don't think it is appropriate to test for radon, rather I think you should screen and learn what the average level in a given area is. There is also an accuracy issue.

email me the rpt.

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I don't know. He didn't include that information in his report. When asked what the reading was he said it was peak.

Truthfully, I have seen reports from the mail in canisters sold at Lowes that are 100 times more useful than what this schmuck wrote.

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Well, the plot thickens.

On my advice Dad requested the complete data set. The inspector refused. He also switched his position that 4.5 was the peak and now claims it is the average. He didn't say which average. He did offer to retest, but his report is useless so that would be a waste of time. Dad has his own radon test scheduled for Monday.

Dad produced his 2006 radon report to show this turkey what an informative report looks like and the guy blew up at him saying that it's 8 years old and is useless. He later emailed a diatribe about how long he has been inspecting, how many certifications he has, how he looked up the weather for the dates of the 8 year old radon test and how severe weather affects test results, yadda, yadda, yadda. He was so angry when he wrote this message that he got his weather implications ass backwards and used a weather report (cut and pasted into the message) from the Ohio Pennsylvania border to support his argument, that's 4 hours drive away from the test location.

He closed the email by directing a slur towards me. One could easily replace his choice words with most common expletives without changing the context. I never knew that "home inspector" was derogatory.

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When I give radon test results, I normally do not provide the data with the hourly readings. I just provide the EPA average number. I'm in an unregulated state so I have no reporting requirements like some states. I keep the data for years in an Excel spreadsheet in case I do ever need it or just want to compare what areas are like to other areas I work in.

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Sounds like a lot of guys in the biz. Sorry to hear.

What's silly is all the fuss over radon. For the cost of a couple tests and the dinking around that's already occurred, one could put in a mitigation system and forget about it.

Inasmuch as the only folks I hear cranking about radon risks are the mopes charged with expending their budgetary allotment cranking about radon, I often wonder just how bad it really is. I don't know any medical professionals that seem to care a rats ass about radon, and I know a lot of uber uptight medical professionals concerned about everything......except radon.

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Sounds like a lot of guys in the biz. Sorry to hear.

What's silly is all the fuss over radon. For the cost of a couple tests and the dinking around that's already occurred, one could put in a mitigation system and forget about it.

Inasmuch as the only folks I hear cranking about radon risks are the mopes charged with expending their budgetary allotment cranking about radon, I often wonder just how bad it really is. I don't know any medical professionals that seem to care a rats ass about radon, and I know a lot of uber uptight medical professionals concerned about everything......except radon.

What would medical professionals know about radon? Sure, they know lung cancer when they see it. But the reality is, they do not know for sure what caused it.

Non-smokers get lung cancer too. How does that happen? If a non-smoker can get lung cancer, then it would be reasonable to expect a smoker can get cancer from things other then smoking. They may know that a person was a smoker and also lived in a house with high radon. If that person gets lung cancer, they have absolutely no way of knowing what really caused it.

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I recall not too long ago there was a group pushing testing for radon on all the granite countertops that are being installed. I heard a local fed-gov rep on local TV saying how harmful it is ...

Mind you radon in the dirt here in N. Texas barely registers on anyone's maps.

But, the granite countertop radon testing was a potential money maker for a certain group of folks ...

Oh well ... [;)]

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I'm not sure what you're saying. I'm saying I don't know, but wonder how dangerous radon really is.

You're saying.......(?)

You said medical professionals that you know are not concerned about radon. I'm saying that they diagnose cancer but can't tell for sure what caused it. In that case, why would you place trust in their opinion on radon?

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I did an inspection and radon test just a few weeks ago for an Radiologist who specializes in Oncology radiation treatment at Vanderbilt's Susan G Coleman Cancer Center and he was very concerned with radon in his home.

He actually requested and paid for two CRMs to be placed in in home side by side just to verify their readings.. I was sooooo happy when both readings were identical! I placed two machines that I had sent at the same time for calibration..

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I would trust their opinion because they're oncologists, radiologists, allergists, medical researchers, and general practitioners. This is what they do. Seems reasonable to listen to them.

I didn't say they don't care; they just indicate that it's one more thing in a broad spectrum of possibilities.

I don't see or hear any particular push from the medical profession at large about radon. That's why I wonder. The international scientific community is still arguing about what it all means. If they don't know or have consensus, why do we? Not saying it's fine, just saying I wonder.

Or, go with your gut. Science, schmience....they're just doctors and educated professionals. Why would they know any more than you or I do?

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My brother in law is a Radiological Engineering Supervisor at one of the local nuke plants.

Someone who actually deals with this stuff on a daily basis.

The guy is a very low key individual who usually doesn't bother getting involved on controversial discussions.

Since there is a spot in one plant that has a radon problem, and they never seem too concerned about it, or even mentioned it while 1200 of us sat through days of mandatory rad worker training required to enter the gate, I asked him about his opinion of home inspector testing methods.

He laughed, and likened the most common methods used to be right on par with that of mold testing.

I don't remember the whole conversation about half lives and the wild chance of radon surviving long enough on a particulate that might be ingested. I won't pretend I do.

I do remember him saying, without a full years worth of careful monitoring, under very controlled conditions, tests results would be pretty much, worthless.

I can tell you this much. It likes to cling to plastic badges, safety glasses and helmets. They have a nice big fan to stand in front of, to blow it off you before you enter the monitors to exit the RCA.

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The half-life of radon is 3.8 days. It is not the radon that causes the damage to the lung tissue it is the radon decay products (RDPs) The RDPs attach themselves to dust and other pollutants in the air, we then breathe those in and the alpha radiation given off by the RDPs damage the lung tissue. The analogy I like best when discussing the chance of getting lung cancer form radon exposure is as follows. Radon is to the lungs like sunshine is to the skin. The more you?re exposed to the higher the potential to develop cancer.

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Two interesting stories and observations.

I've also been told by a dermatologist that some folks just need a single sunburn to put them in line for skin cancer.

I was a licensed radon guy from (about) '87 to sometime in the early 90's. Originally, if we had an elevated level, we had to go back and set several more canisters over a period of time to chart points on a graph, but still with no controls on the test space. Canisters in a house set on cardboard boxes with silly cable ties chained around anything that might not be able to be moved.....science is grand.

Lousy testing, lousy results, and from these we draw conclusions about radon.

It's why I wonder. Not saying I'm comfortable with any exposure, but I wonder what it really means.

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The EPA claims that radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer. Last year there were nearly 225,000 new cases reported. If even a tenth of those cases could be attributed to radon exposure then mitigation would be codified. Every new home would have a system by design and testing would be mandatory at resale for existing stock. It's all supposition. No one knows so who's gonna say they are wrong? It's scary that so many assume they are right.

I live in one of the hottest parts of the State according to DEC maps, and in nearly 30 years of remodeling work all over WNY I have encountered exactly 3 mitigation systems, and one of those wasn't running. If it were killing thousands of us every year there would be as many mitigators as there are 7-elevens. Try to find one, let alone a reputable one to give you an estimate, then who do you comparison shop with? At least that's how it is around here. Everyone wants a test, nobody mitigates.

In the grand scheme of things, it's a non-issue. In relation to a real estate transaction testing should be banned. This deal is going to go bad over a few hundred bucks worth of PVC and a fan that would do little more than increase the annual utility costs. All because someone advised them to test for something that not one of the parties knows anything about.

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I'm with you Kurt on the wonder factor. Maybe some day there will be proof one way or the other. I suggest all of us look forward to scientific proof. At the same time, we should always be skeptical about consensus. Consensus in fact, is not proof of anything. Consensus is more of a political activist type of word.

Meanwhile, the clients I work for get the inspection addendum part of their real estate contract stuffed into their face. In that process, the concern of radon is presented to them. If they ask me to test for it, I can do it to the EPA protocol. To make sure I'm up to date on the subject, I maintain a NEHA NRPP cert. I never push radon testing. I wait for clients to ask for it.

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The EPA claims that radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer. Last year there were nearly 225,000 new cases reported. If even a tenth of those cases could be attributed to radon exposure then mitigation would be codified. Every new home would have a system by design and testing would be mandatory at resale for existing stock. It's all supposition. No one knows so who's gonna say they are wrong? It's scary that so many assume they are right.

I live in one of the hottest parts of the State according to DEC maps, and in nearly 30 years of remodeling work all over WNY I have encountered exactly 3 mitigation systems, and one of those wasn't running. If it were killing thousands of us every year there would be as many mitigators as there are 7-elevens. Try to find one, let alone a reputable one to give you an estimate, then who do you comparison shop with? At least that's how it is around here. Everyone wants a test, nobody mitigates.

In the grand scheme of things, it's a non-issue. In relation to a real estate transaction testing should be banned. This deal is going to go bad over a few hundred bucks worth of PVC and a fan that would do little more than increase the annual utility costs. All because someone advised them to test for something that not one of the parties knows anything about.

That, more or less, encapsulates a lot of what I think I'm trying to say.

We got Federal law mandating safety mechanisms on garage door openers, we codify every last thing that has a ghost of a chance at causing someone to trip or fall, we have >1000 page documents devoted to making buildings safe with armies of AHJ's working enforcement, but mitigation systems....(?)....not required.

That doesn't mean it's OK, because I don't know, but radon proclamations by the EPA have that smell of divisions that are desperate to spend their annual budget for fear of not getting more next year.

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