The Importance of Putting Radon under Control

The Importance of Putting Radon under Control
  • Opening Intro -

    When we think about polluted air, we usually think of toxic emissions from vehicles, smoke coming out of chimneys of factories and our own homes.

    These are visible fumes that are dangerous and require strict regulations; otherwise, we'll turn our air into a gray, toxic mess with severe consequences on our health.

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But, what about the things we don’t see? Plenty of research has indicated the dangers of the colorless, odorless gas known as radon.

If you’re exposed to it continuously, it might cause severe damage to your lungs, resulting in breathing problems and even lung cancer. Indeed, studies have shown that it’s the second leading cause of cancer in the USA after smoking.

Find out more on https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/radon-and-health.

Radon Levels and Measurement

Taking care of the safety of your own home is essential to protecting yourself and those around you. Indoor air is a confined area, no matter how often you ventilate your rooms or how many air purifiers you use. Of course, these are necessary measures that you still need to do, but dealing with radon usually requires a different approach.

What do we mean by dealing with radon? It means measuring the levels in your household or workplace.

Every responsible business owner who cares about their employees should check the presence of harmful gas in their premises.

As we said, the danger lies in long-term exposure; you may not see the effects right away, but when you do, it could be too late.

It’s important to point out that acceptable radon levels differ from one country or organization to another. The soil underneath, the quality of ventilation, and how much time you spend inside – all these are factors that influence radon presence.

There’s no such thing as a radon-free area, but you can certainly reduce the presence of the gas to safe levels.

Fortunately for everyone, we have radon detectors at our disposal to alleviate the problem. They monitor the levels and tell you in precise detail how exposed your area is to the gas. You can do this yourself, using special kits, or better yet, hire a professional team to give you the most accurate analysis.

According to the WHO, reference radon levels for all countries should be 100 Bq/m3, or Becquerel per cubic meter. If you’re unfamiliar with the name, the unit is named after the famous French engineer Henry Becquerel. He was instrumental in the field of radiation, ultimately winning the Nobel Prize in Physics along with Pierre and Maria Curie. 

A Bit of Background Information

The married couple we just mentioned, together with chemist Gustave Bemont, discovered the element radium back in 1898. People had been suffering the effects of radiation long before that, but no one could explain it in scientific terms until these lab wizards came on the scene.

What does radium have to do with radon, you may ask? The chemical element leaves radioactive decay, which in turn generates this dangerous gas.

This decay is actually a part of the atomic energy contained in the nucleus. In short, one curie gives us the amount of radioactivity contained in one gram of radium.

According to federal law requirements, the USA measures the speed of decay using a different unit than the rest of the world. Their preferred unit is pCi, or picocuries per liter of air, while the rest measure in Becquerels. Like with Celsius and Fahrenheit, it’s good to know the corresponding values if you run into this subject.

Acceptable Levels

Ideally, we would erase all radon from the face of the Earth and live happily ever after. However, the reality is a bit different. It’s impossible to eliminate the gas; it’s a natural element produced constantly and is everywhere around us.

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Its lack of physical qualities makes the task even harder. Nevertheless, putting the situation under control is indeed possible and highly advisable at that.

Being the supreme authority in all thing’s health, the World Health Organization determined the generally accepted radon levels at 2.7 pCi/L, equal to 100 Bq/m3. They also warn you not to exceed the upper limit of 8 pCi/L, or 300 Bq/m3.

We won’t bother you with science if you’re starting to yawn; this is intended to give you a clear understanding of the basic principles.

Are Some Areas Riskier than Others?

Simply put, no area is immune to radon exposure. Escaping from underground water and rocks, it permeates the soil and rises into the air.

As we said, the human eye, or nose for that matter, can’t detect it, so it’s impossible to estimate its presence without measuring it.

The general rule of thumb is, the more confined your space is, the greater the radon exposure. This is why it’s so important to check the levels in your living area or workplace

If the test shows unfavorable results, installing a mitigation system will put things under control and improve the air quality. Click here to learn more.

Thanks to the Internet, you have plenty of information related to tips for reduction and ventilation, DIY solutions, and, best of all, professional experts who will mitigate radon. We cannot overstate the importance of safe, clean indoor air and its health benefits.

Moving into a New Home

If you’re beginning a new chapter in your life by buying a new house or apartment, your head is probably fuming. There are endless things to consider: finances, mortgage, location, convenience for you and your family, safety, and so on. But people usually overlook radon measurement simply because it’s not a top priority concern for most people.

Now that we’ve examined the issue in more detail, hopefully, you’ve gained better insight into the matter. Every homeowner should strive to minimize the quantity of VOCs, or volatile organic compounds, inside their homes.

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These are airborne chemicals that pollute the air, as well as our bodies if we inhale them. You can fight them using organic, toxin-free products for cleaning and maintaining the household.

When buying a new carpet or a piece of furniture, it helps to know that these items are potential VOC sources. Of course, everyone enjoys having new stuff, but you also might want to consider including older furniture in your living area or some piece that is repurposed. New carpets, for instance, have a high amount of glue in them, resulting in more harmful chemicals.

We can’t argue that cleaning agents, paints, and other chemicals are necessary in every household. However, it’s best to keep them in unattached areas, such as an outbuilding or a storage place. Even when the lid is on, they can emit gases that could permeate every corner of your house and contaminate the air.

Unfortunately, radon isn’t something that you can put in a bottle and shelve it away for good. This is where testing and mitigation systems come into play.

When moving into a new place, it’s crucial to test the gas levels as soon as possible. It would be best if you think of it as a one-time investment and a life-long benefit.

A Few Extra Tips

Studies have shown that radon levels are higher in winter. That doesn’t mean it magically goes away during the other seasons. By monitoring the gas continuously, you make sure that you and your family are breathing clean air throughout the year.

Aside from DIY testing, you can also reduce the damage by sealing access points, such as your doors and windows, the cracks in your floors and walls, etc. But, if you cannot maintain healthy radon levels for more than three months, you should hire professionals. Not only do they have better equipment, but they can also advise on the topic of future maintenance.

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As you probably know, the mitigation system can be installed outside or inside your home, usually hidden in the attic. Both solutions have advantages, but many people opt for the latter method for several reasons.

If you choose to place your system under the roof, there will be no pipes around the house. If you care for aesthetics, you’ll probably want to keep all components out of sight. In this case, you would only see the vent stack protruding from the roof.

Having an external radon mitigation system means condensation in the pipes. In cold weather, the frozen drops might reduce the lifespan of the radon vent fan. So, to avoid spending money for replacing defunct parts, it’s best to keep the system in a closed area where freeze won’t damage it.

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Moreover, you won’t have to scold your kids for touching your components or turning the fan off accidentally if your system’s in the attic. Having an unreachable installation is highly valuable for households with toddlers. Also, you won’t hear the system running if it’s inside an enclosed area.

Perhaps investing in a system for regulating some invisible gas you’ve never even heard of isn’t your top priority. But you probably won’t hesitate to take action if you look at the points we covered in this article and consider all the health benefits you can get.

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Image credit: putting radon under control by Pixabay

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