Radon mitigation is the process of reducing radon gas concentrations in occupied buildings or radon from water supplies. It involves proper ventilation either through collection below a concrete floor slab or a membrane on the ground. Alternatively, radon mitigation can be performed by increasing the air changes per hour in the building. In addition, removing radon from domestic water supplies involve treatment systems using aeration or activated charcoal. Through these processes, harmful levels of the dangerous gas can be reduced, and the health and safety of the occupants can be ensured. In East-Central Illinois, Callaway and Associates, Inc. provide accurate testing that could lead to proper radon mitigation.
Callaway and Associates, Inc. provides home inspections and radon testing services in East-Central Illinois, namely, Urbana-Champaign, Mattoon, Decatur, Charleston, Danville, and other areas. In meeting or exceeding state standards, we apply the latest techniques for radon testing in homes, schools, daycare facilities, commercial establishments, and other buildings so that accurate measurements can be made and appropriate radon mitigation measures can be applied. At Callaway and Associates, we provide comprehensive radon inspection so we can provide the correct mitigation procedures to reduce elevated levels of radon. In this way, we ensure safe and healthy homes and workplaces. Callaway and Associates, Inc. is the name to trust for radon testing and mitigation.
Dangers of Radon
Radon originates from Uranium 238, a radioactive element. Almost anywhere in the world, some radioactive Uranium 238 can be found in the soil. Radioactivity simply means that the element or atom gives off energy, which may a solid particle, and changes into a different element. During this radioactive decay, the release of energy causes varying amounts of damage to anything that surrounds it. For instance, radon floating in the air of our homes decays back into a series of short-lived solid particles that are charged or are reactive. These short-lived radon decay products can be produced in our lungs from radon decay inside these organs or enter them from airborne radon decay products that come with dust particles and other air particulates that are breathed in.
Subsequently, the decay of these solid particles damages our lung tissues, and continuous and adequate exposure increases the chances of lung cancer. In fact, many scientific entities that have carefully analyzed all the available data have agreed that a connection exists between radon exposure and lung cancer. Radon has a Class A carcinogen rating because of the abundance of human data, animal studies, and sound explanation of how it causes the disease.
Other environmental exposures are regulated to reduce the lifetime risk of cancer to one in 100,000. The EPA states that radon risk exposure to 4.0 pCi/L for a lifetime (18 hours per day) causes 7 additional lung cancers in a thousand non-smokers or 62 additional lung cancers in 1000 smokers. The risk is considered to be linear, which means that even 2 pCi/L of exposure during a lifetime can cause 3 additional cancers in 1000 non-smokers. Fortunately, most of us are not exposed for a lifetime. However, we would be under a similar risk if we were exposed to four times as much for a quarter of a lifetime, or 16 pCi/L in our bedrooms for 17 years.
Therefore, radon mitigation is important to bring radon levels down to acceptable levels to reduce the risk of lung cancer. Through proper inspection and testing techniques, true levels of radon can be accurately measured, and proper recommendations for radon mitigation can be given and applied. Radon is everywhere, and fixing a radon problem is a very straightforward process. Thus, it is a good move to include radon testing to regular building maintenance so that mitigation can proceed if necessary.
Types of Radon Mitigation
If your home has elevated levels of radon above the EPA's recommended action level of 4.0 pCi/L, then a radon reduction or mitigation system should be installed. There are different ways to reduce levels of radon in a building, and we outline some of them so you can determine the most appropriate procedure in case you need to reduce levels of radon in your home.
In homes with a basement or a slab-on-grade foundation, radon mitigation is usually performed through subslab depressurization, drain-tile and sump-hole suction, or crawlspace ventilation.
Subslab depressurization is the most common and usually the most reliable radon mitigation method. One or more suction pipes are inserted through the floor slab into the crushed rock or soil underneath. They may also be inserted below the concrete slab from outside the home. The number and location of suction pipes that are needed depend on how easily air can move in the crushed rock or soil under the slab and on the strength of the radon source. Often, only a single suction point is needed, but more severe cases may require more suction points.
Drain-tile suction is used in some homes with drain tiles or perforated pipes to direct water away from the foundation of the home. The suction on these tiles or pipes is often effective in reducing radon levels. In addition, sump-hole suction can be used, which is a variation of subslab and drain-tile suction. Often, a home with a basement has a sump pump to remove unwanted water. A radon mitigation technique is to cap the sump so that it can continue to drain water and serve as the location for a radon suction pipe.
In some cases, radon levels can be lowered by passively or actively ventilating the crawlspace with a fan. Crawlspace ventilation may decrease indoor radon levels by reducing the home's suction on the soil and by diluting the radon beneath the home. Passive ventilation in a crawlspace is achieved by opening vents or installing additional vents. Active ventilation uses a fan to blow air through the crawlspace instead of relying on natural air circulation. However, a disadvantage of this technique is that it may require additional ventilation appliances that could result in increased energy expenses.
Other Methods of Radon Mitigation
Radon mitigation can be performed through other methods, which include sealing, pressurization, and other ventilation techniques.
Sealing cracks and other openings in the foundation is a basic part of most radon mitigation techniques. This process limits the flow of radon into a home, thereby making other radon reduction techniques more effective and cost-efficient. Furthermore, this technique reduces the loss of conditioned air. However, the EPA does not recommend the use of sealing alone to reduce radon because, by itself, sealing has not been shown to lower radon levels significantly or consistently.
Home or room pressurization involves using a fan to blow air into the basement or living area from either upstairs or outdoors. This method aims to create sufficient pressure at the lowest level indoors — in a basement, for example — to prevent radon from entering a home. The effectiveness of this technique is limited by home construction, climate, other appliances in the home, and occupant lifestyle. For example, to maintain enough pressure to keep radon out, the doors and windows at the lowest level must not be left open except for normal entry and exit.
Finally, a heat recovery ventilator (HRV) or an air-to-air heat exchanger can be installed to increase ventilation, which can help reduce radon levels in a home. An HRV improves ventilation by introducing outdoor air while using the heated or cooled air being exhausted to warm or cool the incoming air. HRVs can be designed to ventilate all or part of a home, although they are more effective in reducing radon levels when used to ventilate the basement only.
Professional Radon Testing and Mitigation
For professional radon testing that can lead to proper recommendations for radon mitigation, Callaway and Associates, Inc. is the name to trust. Whether you are a home or business owner, you can rely on our dependable services to keep radon levels in your location at a minimal level, ensuring your health and safety and those of other occupants. For more than 20 years and with over 400 jobs performed annually, we have helped many families, schools, and businesses detect harmful levels of radon and provided appropriate recommendations for radon mitigation. With this, we take pride in our work and continue to improve our processes so that accurate measurements can be made and proper mitigation techniques can be applied.
Trust Callaway and Associates today. Get in touch with us for more information about our processes or to schedule an initial consultation.