Radon Atlanta Radon Health Hazards in Atlanta Homes www.inspection-company.com Michael Collins-Smythe Certified Radon Testing Technician Atlanta Home Inspector www.inspection-company.com 770-321-2676
Radon is a naturally occurring, odorless, invisible, and toxic radioactive gas. Its sources are earth and rock beneath homes, well water and some building materials. In open air, it dissipates to harmless levels. However, in enclosed structures such as homes, it can accumulate to dangerous levels. The EPA has determined that radon concentrations above 4 pCi/L (pico curies per liter of air) is considered hazardous and should be mediated. As a comparison, the average concentration in most indoor environments is 1.3 pCi/L and the average outdoor concentration is 0.4pCi/L.
1 in 15 Homes in Atlanta Have High Levels of Radon
According to the EPA, much of north Georgia in zone 2 or zone 1 meaning the Atlanta area has moderate to highest potential for elevated Radon levels. Not every home is affected. Age and foundation types have not effect on whether a home can have elevated Radon. Only through testing can the levels in a home be determined.
Certain rock types, such as black shales and certain igneous rocks, can have uranium and thorium in amounts higher than is typical for the earth’s crust. Increased amounts of radon will be generated in the subsurface at these locations. Because radon is a gas, it can easily move through soil and cracks in building slabs or basement walls and concentrate in a building’s indoor air. Areas with higher amounts of radon in the underlying rocks and soil are likely to have higher percentages of buildings with indoor radon levels in excess of U.S. Environmental Protection Agency guidelines, and incidences of very high indoor radon levels are more likely in these areas.
It is estimated that radon causes many thousands of deaths each year because breathing air that contains radon can cause lung cancer. In fact, the Surgeon General has warned that radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States today. Only smoking causes more lung cancer deaths. If you smoke and your home has high radon levels, your risk of contracting lung cancer is especially high.
Not everyone exposed to radon will develop lung cancer, but U.S. EPA and the National Cancer Institute estimate the annual number of lung cancer deaths in the United States attributable to radon is between 7,000 and 30,000.
All radon tests require a minimum of 48 hours and it must be located in the lowest inhabitable part of the house. Placement of the device can affect results.
We use the latest state-of-art electronic monitoring radon testing equipment that are lab calibrated yearly. Our instruments sample the radon levels each hour, and keeps track of any changes in the environment that might indicate tampering or can skew the results. At the end of the 48 hour minimum test period, we can generate the report immediately.
Other companies typically use charcoal canisters that may not give an accurate reading if the test environment changes and cannot detect any tampering. In addition to the 48 hour minimum test period, charcoal canisters require additional days to return the canisters to a test lab before results can be obtained.
Active Sub-slab suction (also called sub-slab depressurization) 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 pipes 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. Often, only a single suction point is needed.
An effective method to reduce radon levels in crawlspace houses involves covering the earth floor with a high-density plastic sheet. A vent pipe and fan are 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.
If you are having a radon system installed you should look at the Radon Mitigation Standards so you will know what you are supposed to be getting and whether the system was correctly installed.
Your contractor should meet when installing a radon reduction system in your home. It is important to verify with your contractor that the radon mitigation standards are properly met to ensure that your radon reduction system will be effective.
Michael Collins-Smythe, a home inspector in Atlanta is a certified Inspector with ASHI and is ICC Code Certified. He also serves on the state board of directors for the ASHI Chapter in Georgia Michael has years of experience inspecting. He inspects older in-town homes, new construction, condominiums, town homes. He is skilled in all areas of inspections including HVAC, electrical, plumbing, framing, structure, foundation, grading, roof coverings, and has written several technical articles related to the home inspection and building consulting industry. He is also certified to conduct Radon testing. He is the owner of The Inspection Company, LLC, www.inspection-company.com , and can be reached at [email_address] .