May 8, 2018

What I Think You Should You Know About Radon Testing & Mitigation?

The detrimental effects of radon upon people’s health has been well researched and recorded, especially in recent years. It’s presence in commercial buildings and multifamily dwellings, even in miniscule degrees, can be lethal. In fact, over a period of time radon can cause a myriad of serious illnesses and diseases and lead to death. Thus, its remediation or mitigation is not only required by law, but is a necessity that must not be ignored or overlooked. What is Radon and Why is it so Bad for Our Health? Radon should be considered insidious as well as extremely hazardous to the health of human beings. For it is not only odorless, colorless and tasteless but is radioactive (the decay product of the element radium). So, its presence cannot be detected by people under normal conditions. Thus, one could be breathing it in for years and never know. Radon is a noble gas and an extremely dense substance which remains a gas under normal conditions, and because of its radioactivity is why it is such a health hazard to all living things. In fact, radon is responsible for most people’s exposure to what is called ionizing radiation. This is radiation that contains enough energy to allow electrons to escape from atoms and molecules, thus ionizing them. The pejorative term, “free radicals,” definitely applies here. Free radicals, and radiation, is a virulent destroyer of cells and tissue in living things. As it is, radon is the largest contributor to a person’s individual radiation dose during his life, and its dosage varies from location to location. Radon gas from different natural sources can accumulate in buildings and multifamily dwellings, especially in confined areas such as basements, attics, cellars and storage areas. And it can also be present in hot springs, spring waters and similar kinds of watery bodies. In its 2003 report, EPA’s Assessment of Risks from Radon in Homes, the Environmental Protection Agency states there is scientific evidence that shows a distinct link between lung cancer and high concentrations of radon. It indicates that there are 21,000 radon-induced U.S. lung cancer deaths per year, which is second only to cigarette smoking. So, in geographic areas where radon is present in high concentrations, it is considered a serious indoor air contaminant. Bearing all this in mind, the importance of detecting radon in pre-existing buildings, and especially multifamily dwellings, and implementing its remediation, is exigent and should be considered the number one priority to real estate developers, owners, managers and landlords. Following Radon Standards of Practice: All real estate developers, owners and others in the industry need to be cognizant of standards of practice applicable to radon and detecting, measuring and mitigating its presence or removing its entire presence from a facility or property. One great source for learning and applying these standards is the National Radon Program Services of Kansas State University website. On its website ( is the following: “Standards and protocols for conducting radon measurement and mitigation activities have been available since the early 1990s, and were developed in several ways: first, by EPA with radon industry input; second, under the ASTM standards development process; and third, by the ANSI-recognized American Association of Radon Scientists and Technologists (AARST) Consortium on National Radon Standards. One or more of these standards have been recognized or adopted in several ways: first, by various states with radon licensing or certification requirements; second, by EPA; and third, by national radon proficiency programs, of which there are two, the AARST-National Radon Proficiency Program (AARST-NRPP), and the National Radon Safety Board (NRSB). Radon measurement and mitigation professionals should identify which standard and/or protocol they are following or comply with, usually determined by the state certification program or national certification program they participate in.”  A thorough visit of this important online resource is in order. The site also provides the currently available standards included those listed from most recently produced to older standards. Early detection of radon in commercial or residential property is essential. And early detection of radon in commercial and residential property is essential. Early detection as well as effective and complete remediation most likely will require the services of an experienced professional environmental engineering company such as Essel Environmental. Methods and Practices for the Remediation of Radon: There are several basic tests for radon gas. And even radon test kits are available commercially. The NEHA (National Environmental Health Association) provides a salient list of professionals who provide radon measurement services. It should be remembered that long-term testing kits for taking collections for up to one year are also available commercially. Plus, what is called an open-land test kit, is one that can test radon emissions of the land before a property construction begins. As it is, the EPA and NEHA have identified 15 types of radon testing (one is called a Lucas cell). The distribution of radon in an indoor environment is almost entirely controlled by the ventilation system in said space or enclosure. Indoor radon concentrations generally increase as ventilation rates decrease. By sealing cracks in walls and floors to increasing the ventilation rate of a building, radon levels in an indoor environment can be lowered in numerous ways. Thus, listed herewith are several many accepted ways to reduce the quantity of radon that may accumulate within a dwelling:
  • Improve the ventilation of the dwelling and avoid the transport of radon from the ground, cellar or basement into living spaces;
  • Install a crawlspace or basement ventilation system;
  • Install sub-slab depressurization radon mitigation systems, which can vacuum radon from under slab-on-grade foundations;
  • Install a radon sump system in the basement;
  • Sealing floors and walls (not a stand-alone solution); and
  • Install a positive pressurization or positive supply ventilation system.
It’s good to remember that the half-life for radon is 3.8 days. This means that once a radon source is removed, the hazard of it will be greatly reduced within approximately 30 days. ASTM E-2121 is a standard for reducing radon in homes as much as is practicable, and real estate developers and homeowners can visit the ASTM website to learn more. Here: Homes built on a crawl space or other such enclosure can no doubt benefit from installing a radon collector. This should be installed under a radon barrier, or membrane, which consists of a sheet of laminated or plastic polyethylene material that covers the crawl space floor or area. As stated hereinabove, early detection of radon in commercial and residential property is essential. And early detection as well as effective and complete remediation most likely will require the services of an experienced professional environmental engineering company such as Essel Environmental, we are the Radon Experts you can trust.