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Reduce Radon Levels?


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My question is what is the next step to reduce the radon in my home?

Here is what has been done so far. Please bare with me

Bought a house built in 1988 in Virginia and had the house tested for radon before purchasing. It passed but there are times shown on the hour by hour test that the levels can reach as high a 8 pCi/L. But the average is below 4 pCi/L.

I plugged in one of these Safety Siren Pro Series 3 HS71512 Radon Gas Detector and the lowest levels i have seen is 13 pCi/L.

The house has 2 radon fans in the unfinished basement. Both appear to be working with a negative of close to 1pa. All of the gaps in the concrete to the block wall is caulked. I just finished spraying the entire slab with a product called radon seal that claims in will reduce the radon levels that leech through the slab. Well according the the Safety Siren there was not a change.

So now i am wondering what the next step is to continue to reduce the radon levels. Would like to be under 2 pCi/L.

Thanks for your help

Josh

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You may not get there.

If my memory isn't totally blown, I recall the guvmint establishing 4pCi/L as a performance level. What's that mean?

In areas of the country with extreme radon issues, if one installs a state of the art mitigation system, the lowest feasible obtainable levels will be 4pCi/L. IOW, it's really, really low, and you may not be able to get lower.

The international scientific community continues to argue about what is "safe". The US guvmint science behind the proclamations of what's "safe" and what's not is sketchy, and if one bothers to take the time to read the papers and studies our guvmint has produced to support it's radon program, one would most likely conclude that much of the issue might just be made up to suit the agencies preconceived notions.

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The problem you describe is something I typically see on older houses that do not have gravel under the foundation, but instead clay. If there are not voids between the gravel for the soil gases (radon) to travel through to get to the pipe then it will continue leach up through the floor. OR the 2 systems are not installed properly. You say there are 2 fans in the basement. A radon mitigation fan should not be inside the house. The fan should be in the attic, garage, or outisde. Did you mean there are 2 suction points in the basement and the fans are somewhere else?

I would first ensure the mitigation system(s) are properly installed. You can find an inspection checklist online.

You can replace the current fans with larger ones. I believe there are 3 sizes.

You might consider doing a longterm test (6 months or more) with an "Alpha-track" device. A long term test will give you more accurate results.

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It's certainly possible that the problem comes from systems that aren't installed satisfactorily. Lots of them out there.

Still, are we arguing that the correct level is now 1/2 of what the guvmint indicates is an action level? Not a toxic threshold or physiologically significant level, but a performance level?

Isn't it OK to get to 4 pCi/L?

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While the lack of gravel for air communication under the slab may be at issue, it may also be coming in through the block wall rather than the floor.

I had one here where the 48 hour short term test showed a 183.6 average. Radon mitigation system dropped it to 1.4.

If you want it done right, get someone who understand diagnostics and have them guide you.

===============================

FYI: While the "Action Level" is 4.0 - the EPA's website at: http://www.epa.gov/radon/aboutus.html , states:

"The average radon concentration in the indoor air of America's homes is about 1.3 pCi/L. It is upon this level that EPA based its estimate of 20,000 radon-related lung cancers a year upon. It is for this simple reason that EPA recommends that Americans consider fixing their homes when the radon level is between 2 pCi/L and 4 pCi/L. "

"Unfortunately, many Americans presume that because the action level is 4 pCi/L, a radon level of less than 4 pCi/L is "safe". This perception is altogether too common in the residential real estate market. In managing any risk, we should be concerned with the greatest risk. For most Americans, their greatest exposure to radon is in their homes; especially in rooms that are below grade (e.g., basements), rooms that are in contact with the ground and those rooms immediately above them."

The EPA's " Home Buyer's & Seller's Guide to Radon" states

"Radon levels less than 4 pCi/L still pose a risk and, in many cases, may be reduced."

"Short-term tests can be used to decide whether to reduce the home's high radon levels. However, the closer the short-term testing result is to 4 pCi/L, the less certainty there is about whether the home's year-round average is above or below that level. Keep in mind that radon levels below 4 pCi/L still pose some risk and that radon levels can be reduced to 2 pCi/L or below in most homes."

===================================

Though I doubt you'll find a mitigation contractor who will guarantee to get it that low. The typical is to guarantee getting it below a 4.0.

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Sorry, OP,

I'd really rather not "bare" with you. My wife would probably get pretty upset if I went around doing that with total strangers. I might get arrested too. Since I've had a bench warrant out for my arrest in VA for the past 32 years. Going there isn't an option. You'd have to come here, which begs the question - where the hell would I put you?

Nope, ain't "baring with anyone unless I get divorced first, that person is a female and she wants to come to Washington.

At my age, that's too much of a hassle. Forget the whole thing.

Now, that other thing; the radon thingie. It sounds like you've done about all that can be done. If you're intent is to not breath in radon I suggest you buy an oxygen bottle and get a really large lawn/leaf bag. Climb inside, pull in an oxygen hose and then have someone tape the bag closed around the hose and turn on that oxygen bottle. Now punch a pin hole in the bag for air to flow out so that the bag doesn't completely inflate and blow up. Now you're protected.

Oh, you want to be able to move around and live a normal life? Well, why didn't you say so? If that's the case, stop obsessing about the damned radon and go about living your life, because after you get done trying to limit your exposure to radon how are you going to prevent yourself from inhaling asbestos fiber every time you drive down the interstate on a warm day or when you use a blow dryer? Are you a smoker? What about the formaldehyde you inhale with every puff along with all of the other bad stuff out there? What about when you visit Mom or Dad in their old home and drink that water that comes through those old galvanized pipes? How will you prevent yourself from ingesting lead or prevent your kids from ingesting lead when they are there? Live in a house built before 1980? How are you going to prevent your kinds from ingesting lead as they play in the back yard, get lead dust all over their hands and are constantly putting their hands in their mouths?

Like I said, stop obsessing and go about living your life.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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While it may seem like the previous responders are heartless jerks, they really are not.

Please realize there is no scientific consensus that radon levels are actually bad for you nor are there "safe" levels. I understand one study actually showed a little radon was actually safer!

Much of what is out in the public domain is pure conjecture, not science.

I'm not a scientist and don't pretend to understand the jargon but a little deeper study might be warranted and you will likely shrug and get on with life or adopt the "bubble" mentality previously mentioned.

Me, I live in Texas where we don't have much of a radon issue. But I would seal the crack in the floor and walls below grade, ventilate a bit and move on with life.

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Consider doing a long-term test to see what the average is. I would not believe that numbers from the Radon monitor thingie you are using.

Really.

A decent quality low-cost radon monitor sells for about $800 - $1200 and might have 25% +- accuracy. To get to 5% accuracy, you'd have to spend more like $4,000.

Do you really think that a $60 gizmo is going to give you results that are worthwhile?

If you want to know the long-term average levels in your house, spend $20 on an alpha track detector, expose it for a year, and send it in for the results, which will be real and reliable.

If you want to know the peaks, you'll have to either buy a long-term machine or hire someone to set it up in your house for as long as possible.

As others have said, no one really understands the relative health risks of radon at low levels. There are lots of things out there that can kill you. Why the focus on radon? Sunlight clearly causes cancer. Why aren't we each wearing sunlight monitors to measure our cumulative exposure to it?

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FYI, those Pro Siren plug-in detectors are about as accurate as throwing darts in a dark room with your eyes closed and behind your back! With two mitigation systems going and with everything being sealed, I would not put much trust in that plug-in detector.

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Read this and relax.

http://www.epa.gov/radon/pubs/citguide.html

There is a linear relationship between radon exposure levels and cancer risk. Like mike said, you can't live your life in a bubble and enjoy it. Also, keep in mind that your radon exposure and risk is combination of the level and time exposed. Most people don't live in the basement so the risk is reduced because the radon level is lower as you move up in the house.

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Read this and relax.

http://www.epa.gov/radon/pubs/citguide.html

There is a linear relationship between radon exposure levels and cancer risk. Like mike said, you can't live your life in a bubble and enjoy it. Also, keep in mind that your radon exposure and risk is combination of the level and time exposed. Most people don't live in the basement so the risk is reduced because the radon level is lower as you move up in the house.

Because the EPA says so?

Marc

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Read this and relax.

http://www.epa.gov/radon/pubs/citguide.html

There is a linear relationship between radon exposure levels and cancer risk. Like mike said, you can't live your life in a bubble and enjoy it. Also, keep in mind that your radon exposure and risk is combination of the level and time exposed. Most people don't live in the basement so the risk is reduced because the radon level is lower as you move up in the house.

Because the EPA says so?

Marc

Because the information is logical and makes sense.

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I have become dubious about all of this over the years because all the "statistics" and cited risk percentages are not based in any actual or valid studies. It's all projections from other industries and activities, primarily coal miners working in highly elevated and concentrated radon environments. If any business or organization did this to promote their position, they would be fined, indicted, or otherwise hounded out of existence.

And the "test"......What science comes to conclusions that result in billions of dollars of activity based on crappy equipment and statistically validated testing procedures demanded by the NAR?

Is the medical profession and industry really blind and have their collective heads in the sand on radon? I've yet to talk with any medical professional that thinks it's a major problem.

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Do a Google search with the question " Is radon really dangerous?" You will find a lot of answers from home inspection and radon testing companies that obviously have something to gain by overstating the risk.

On the other hand there are a lot of articles that make it clear that higher radon levels increase the risk of lung cancer. We can discuss whether the action level of 4.0 pCi/L is appropriate but I have not seen any articles that state that high levels of radon exposure do not pose a risk.

My feeling is that if there is something we can do to reduce a risk at a reasonable cost we should do it.

If someone told me that I have to spend $1500 to reduce the risk of my children getting lung cancer I will do it.

Of course that leads to the question of what else should we consider spending money on to reduce risk and that is not for me to answer for others.

That is what I feel and how I present it to my clients.

I look out of my car window and see little kids jumping around the back seat of a moving car driving down the road and I know that the risk of them getting injury in a crash is higher than if they were belted. I can't control them but I know my kids were always belted when they were little.

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I've googled that so many times, it's silly. The people most concerned about it are testing and enforcement agencies.

As far as the rest of it, I know. That's pretty much my take too. It's cheap and easy to address, so why not?

Current EPA policy is bad science based in projections from completely unrelated conditions, tested for in highly questionable protocols with cheap portable equipment with lousy accuracy, and bounced off of random standards having little relationship to anything medical science considers valid.

Not saying radon is OK, but I'm biased in wanting good science if we're supposed to do something about it.

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I'm not that extreme. That clear bubbling stream on your avatar might still be that way because of EPA.

Like all government agencies, there's insane overreach. Determining where the line is gets complicated in some cases, not so much in others.

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... and don't forget the radon from the beloved granite counter-tops. I believe that data point hit a peak in 2008 with articles in many locations. A Google search will give you plenty to read including the one below from "This Old House".

Radon - Granite Counter-Tops ... This Old House

Bottom line ... be aware, learn ... but "chill out"

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