Radon

 

Radon is a naturally occurring, odorless, radioactive gas caused by uranium deposits in the soil. As uranium decays, one of the byproducts is the radioactive gas radon. This gas migrates through the soil and enters primarily through the basement or crawl space.

 

As reported by the EPA, radon is the number two leading cause of lung cancer in America. The effects of long term exposure has the same negative effect as smoking cigarettes.

 

Every home has radon at some level. Even outside air contains trace amounts of radon. Only by testing with an EPA approved method can the exact level of radon be determined. The Rocky Mountain States have generally high radon above 4.0 pCi/l which is the level at which the EPA recommends corrective action be taken. We have seen and documented levels over 145 pCi/l in the Gallatin Valley. Testing in the Gallatin Valley has found that 48% of homes have levels of Radon above the levels deemed acceptable by the EPA. Gallatin County Radon Information

 

 There are two options in testing for radon. A local certified home inspection service may be contracted. We recommend Advantage (API) or Rocky Mt. inspections in Bozeman or Brainerd home inspections in Livingston/ Paradise valley. The second option is with a home radon test kit. These are typically available at local home improvement and hardware stores or may be ordered online through state Health and Human Service agencies such as the Gallatin County Health Dept. Triple R Mitigation is a licensed, certified Radon/ Mold mitigation company and not a radon testing company. We are licensed to correct the issues. We do not test our own work to avoid any conflict of interest,

 

Once the level of radon has been determined different options exist and consulting a mitigation specialist is the best course of action.

 

All homes have radon at some level. A property with a mitigation system installed simply means the issue has has been addressed and is likely to have a much lower radon level than homes without a system installed. This will more than likely raise your property value and make your home easier to sell if and when you decide to sell.

 

If you do end up having high radon in your home taking action to mitigate makes sense. You may be required to install a system for the buyers of your home as part of the sale of the home. You and your family can lower your risk of radon exposure while you live there, and not the next person or family. Many clients say: "I wish I had known about this. I would've installed this system a long time ago"

 

The EPA and the State of Montana strongly  recommend testing the level of radon in all homes. This includes homes with mitigation systems installed. The primary reason is as homes age, new cracks in the foundation may occur creating entry points for radon. A periodic test of radon ensures the levels remain low. Self test kits are easy to use, inexpensive and provide accurate results.

 

Indoor radon levels can be reduced by installing a relatively simple system. There are two common configurations of the basic system, one for slab-on-grade and/or basement homes and one for homes with a crawl space or both.

Action Sub-Slab Suction

 

   Active Sub-slab suction (also called sub-slab depressurization system) is the most common and usually the most reliable radon reduction method. One or more suction pipes are inserted through the floor slab into the crushed rock or soil underneath. They also may be inserted below the concrete slab from outside the house. The number and location of suction points that are needed depends on how easily air can move in the crushed rock or soil under the slab, and on the strength of the radon source. Usually only a single suction point is needed.

 

Sub-Membrane Suction

 

   An effective method to reduce radon levels in crawlspace houses involves covering the earth floor with a high-density, reinforced, plastic membrane. A vent pipe and fan are then used to draw the radon from under the sheet and vent it to the outdoors. This form of soil suction is called sub-membrane suction, and when properly applied is the most effective way to reduce radon levels in crawlspace houses.

How Does Radon Get Into My House?

 

   The following are excerpts from The Geology of Radon, from the US Geologic Survey.

Because radon is a gas, it has much greater mobility than uranium or radium, which are fixed in the solid matter in rocks and soils. Radon can more easily leave the rocks and soils, by escaping into fractures and openings in rocks and into the pore spaces between grains of soil. The ease and efficiency with which radon moves in the pore space or fracture affects how much enters a house. If radon is able to move easily in the pore space, then it can travel a great distance before it decays, and it is more likely to collect in high concentrations inside a building.

Radon moving through soil pore spaces and rock fractures near the surface of the earth usually escapes into the atmosphere. Where a house is present, however, soil air often flows toward its foundation for three reasons: differences in air pressure between the soil and the house, the presence of openings in the house’s foundation, and increases in permeability around the basement (if one is present).

Most houses draw less than one percent of their indoor air from the soil; the remainder comes from outdoor air, which is generally quite low in radon. Houses with low indoor air pressures, poorly sealed foundations, and several entry points for soil air, however, may draw as much as 20 percent of their indoor air from the soil. Even if the soil air has only moderate levels of radon, levels inside the house may be very high.