A safe environment is vital for efficiency and productivity both at home and in the workplace. Although some accidents are inevitable, measures should be put in place to protect one from exposure to harmful elements such as radon. Installing a functional mitigation system could do the job of protecting everyone and reducing the health hazards associated with exposure to these elements.
Radon is a radioactive gas that is also tasteless, colorless, and odorless. As a result of its radioactivity, it is considered a health hazard. Radon is created due to a breakdown of uranium to radium occurrence in rock, water, or soil and then discharged into the air. It often builds up in places with poor ventilation like an underground mine or inside buildings.
Being unable to perceive this gas makes it more difficult for one to detect its presence in a building. It is therefore imperative to have an inspector run a test on your building. With a little search, you can find professionals or you can visit: https://kcradonpros.com/ to find experienced radon inspectors that will test your building.
Health Hazards of Inhaling Radon
There are usually no immediate symptoms but health problems such as lung cancer due to the exposure may be recorded after many years. As you breathe in the gas, it enters the lining of your lungs and gives off radiation that damages the cells present. Long-term exposure to it is very harmful and chances are higher for persons who smoke.
Some of the symptoms of radon include shortness of breath, hoarseness, chest pain, nagging cough, coughing up blood, loss of appetite, fatigue, and loss of weight. Even infections such as pneumonia and bronchitis also affect one during this time. This makes it very important to reduce exposure to this radioactive gas by carrying out proper testing in the home and workplace to detect the presence of radon.
Currently, there is no medical test to measure one’s level of exposure to the gas, and there are also no available treatments to remove radon from the body. However, it is easier to treat lung cancer in its early stages before it spreads completely. Consult with a doctor immediately if you notice any of these symptoms. To learn more about lung cancer and its treatment, you can check here.
How to Test for Radon
The invisible nature of radon makes it difficult for a test to be carried out without the right tools or expertise. Although this test can easily be executed by following the instructions on the package, it is better to have a professional carry out this process. Here are some methods to use:
The duration of this test varies with some measuring for 3 days while others can measure for as long as 90 days. The doors and windows must stay shut within the period and outside air must equally be avoided. Certain devices such as charcoal canisters or liquid scintillation detectors, electret ion chambers, alpha track detectors, and continuous monitors are used for this process.
This testing method is more ideal for emergencies as it gives faster results.
This method is more ideal to get accurate results and an advanced understanding of your home since the gas levels are usually unstable and tend to fluctuate. The measurement durations last for over 90 days. The electret ion chamber and alpha-track are the tools used in this method.
How to Detect Radon
Carrying out a diagnosis enables the contractor to decide which reduction method will be best suited for your building. Information about the structure such as the foundation design and type of material all contribute to deciding the reduction method to use.
This can be used to locate the source and direction of the movement of air. A small quantity of smoke is shot into drains, sumps, holes, or along cracks and likely routes are revealed by the sources where air flows from.
Soil Communication Test
This involves using a chemical smoke and vacuum cleaner to know how air can easily move from one place to another under the building. A vacuum cleaner hose is inserted into a small hole while a chemical smoke is inserted into another hole.
The contractor then observes to see if the smoke can be pulled down the second hole by the force coming from the suction of the vacuum cleaner. If you feel you can handle the process, you can read articles explaining how to test for radon to get assistance.
Top Radon Reduction Methods
When a level of 4 picocuries per liter or more which is regarded as a high level is detected in the home or other buildings, some steps that do not require heavy spending can be taken to reduce its presence. There are several techniques available that can be used in preventing or reducing radon levels and here are some of them:
This method prevents the gas from entering the home. A pipe not less than four inches can be installed to draw out the gas from beneath the house and release it outside. A vent fan is attached to the pipes to pull the gas from under the house and discharged it outside.
Since the gas can easily enter the structure through openings or foundation cracks, closing them can greatly limit the amount of radon that enters. Although closing the openings and cracks in the foundation is one major way to reduce radon, it may not be adequate due to the difficulty in permanently closing the cracks.
Install a Heat Recovery Ventilator
This air-to-air heat exchanger introduces outdoor air and increases ventilation by warming or cooling the air coming inside using the heated or cooled air that is being exhausted. It is capable of ventilating some or all parts of the home although they function better to reduce gas levels when installed for basement use only.
With good maintenance, HRVs ensure there is a regular degree of ventilation all year round. In homes with other indoor pollutants, it makes the air quality better.
Install Plastic Sheeting
This is only suitable for places with a crawl space. The sheeting is placed over the floor on top of the gas-permeable slab to block the gas.
House or Room pressurization
This is the process of blowing air into the living area or basement using a fan. It tries to build enough pressure in a basement to prevent the gas from entering the home. This requires shutting all windows and doors at the lowest level to maintain the pressure. This often leads to more outdoor air entering the home and which results in energy penalties and moisture intrusion.
Occupant lifestyle, climate, home appliances, and construction are some factors that limit the effectiveness of this strategy. It is advisable to employ this method only after all others have failed.
Build a Gas-Permeable Layer
This technique allows the gas to only move beneath the house and is ideal for places with a slab or basement foundation.
When there is a mix between outdoor air and indoor air, it results in a reduction in gas levels and this can be achieved by opening the doors, vents, and windows in the lower levels to boost ventilation.
However, these levels would likely return once the ventilation units are closed thus making this approach a temporary one. There are also certain disadvantages such as security concerns, loss of conditioned air, and huge discomfort associated with this method.
Maintaining the Radon Reduction System
Like every other installation, these reduction systems also demand maintenance from time to time if they are to work without fail. Here are some ways to carry out maintenance on them:
- Always ensure your system is functioning right especially one powered with a fan. It should never be put off but run continuously if the system is expected to work properly. Fans may last up to five years before needing change or repair.
- HRV filter needs constant cleaning and should be replaced twice a year. This is not expensive and can easily be done. Consult with a contractor to get a suitable replacement. Those used to control the spread of the gas must run all the time.
- Inspect vents for debris and leaves. Ventilators should also be checked annually by a professional to ensure a balanced airflow.
- Retest your home after remodeling or after two years to be certain that the gas levels remain low. This is important to be sure the effectiveness of the system was not reduced by the construction.
Long-term radon exposure can cause lung cancer hence it is recommended that you conduct regular tests on your building to detect the presence or otherwise. Large traces and cracks in the building should be closed up to prevent gas from seeping into the building.
Finally, before buying a property, have an expert test the place for radon since you can neither smell nor feel it. Reducing radon levels demands specific technical skills and knowledge and this makes it necessary that you hire a qualified mitigation contractor to avoid creating other hazards, incurring extra costs, or even increasing gas levels.