Is A Home Radon Free?
Airborne radon and its decay products is known to cause lung cancer in humans. Exposure to radon in drinking water has been accused of increasing the incidence of gastrointestinal diseases, including stomach and other cancers. Radon gas has been found in varying amounts in every state in the USA, killing up to 30,000 people each year from lung cancer.
Information about Radon:
What Are The Risks?
It is estimated that radon kills between 5,000 and 30,000 people each year. Nearly 1 in 15 homes are estimated to have elevated levels of radon. Radon gas is the #1 cause of lung cancer in non-smokers. Radon can show up in any home or office. You may have radon in your home or office even if your neighbor does not. The risk of developing lung cancer from Radon exposure can increase depending on:
1. the level of radon in your home or office;
2. the amount of time you have spent exposed to radon;
3. whether you are a smoker or have ever been exposed to tobacco smoke.Smokers Beware!
Cigarette smokers who have radon concentrations of 10pCi/L or higher increase their chance of developing lung cancer by as much as 18 times or 1800%.
How Does Radon Get Into A Home Or Office?
The greatest concentration of radon is usually found in the lowest level of homes or offices. This is because radon is found in the soil and rocks beneath the foundation. If you have dirt floors in the basement, cracks in the foundation, or openings from a sump pump hole or drain, radon is likely to build up quicker and in higher concentrations. Radon can also enter your home or office through your water supply (i.e. shower, dishwasher, washing machine, etc.). If your home or office uses well water, we suggest testing.
Protection...Testing Is The First Line Of Defense!
To find out if radon gas is a problem in a home or office, a radon test conducted! Our Radon Gas Testing is accurate and reliable for checking the level of radon gas in a home or office. Our test employs side-by-side testing in order to get the most accurate and reliable results.
Radon Is Measured In Picocuries Per Liter (pCi/L)
An acceptable level of radon is 4(pCi/L) or less. If the average of your last test results were higher than 4(pCi/L) it would be recommended that you take some action to reduce the radon level in your home or office.
We recommend that you conduct a radon test every year. Annual testing is the best way to determine whether or not your home or office has the potential for a radon problem.
If Test Results Are High?
Unfortunately, if the initial test results are very high, costs to control your Radon probel could run between $500-$2,500 depending on the seriousness of your problem. We recommend that you start by doing the following:
The Radioactive Series and Different Types Of Radiation
Radon can be found in the periodic table as radon(222), a gas which is a naturally occurring radioactive product in the uranium(238) decay series (the numbers in parentheses refer to the atomic weight of the element). Atoms of radioactive elements are not stable, and they disintegrate, or decay, at a specific and constant rate that cannot be changed by any known means. In the process of this disintegration, elements of “high” atomic weights eventually turn into elements of “lower” atomic weights. The result of this disintegration process is a non-radioactive element. Radon maybe found emanating from industrial wastes containing radium such as the by-products of uranium or phosphate mining. Uranium is a natural element and may be found in soil, rock or bedrock containing granite, carnotite, shales, phosphate and pitchblende. Radon decay products release further radiation. These decays products are known as radon daughters or radon progeny. Radioactive polonium(218), lead(214), bismuth(214), and polonium(214), lead(210), bismuth(210), and polonium(210) are produced when radon(222) decays. Radon(222) finally becomes stable when it reaches lead(206).
How Does Radon Enter A Building?
Most airborne radon is released into building from the soil or rock beneath. Radon from soil or rock enters the building through cracks and holes in a building's foundation, then can move freely through open areas. Most radon in water can be released into buildings from contaminated groundwater (such as from a private well) used in showers, dishwashers, clothes washers, and other types of appliances. Generally, the amount of radon released from water depends on how much radon was initially in the water, the temperature of the water (higher temperatures release more), and the amount of water surface exposed to air (the more surface exposed, the more radon is released.) Although the alpha particles in radon can he stopped by a wall, a few sheets of paper or a person's skin, building basements or foundations are often not a completely effective barrier since they often contain cracks or holes. Pressure differentials between a building interior and exterior can also draw in radon gas.
How Does Radon Enter The Body?
It is generally believed that skin acts as a barrier to radon, so, the only way that radon can enter into a person's body is if it is inhaled (breathed in) or ingested (when water is consumed). A person's lungs are particularly vulnerable to the effects of radon. If ingested, radon goes to the gastrointestinal (GI) tract first, then to the liver and parts of the circulatory (blood) system. From the circulatory system radon enters the lungs and body tissues.
Why Is Radon Dangerous?
The known health hazard associated with exposure to radon is an increased risk of lung cancer. Exposure to radon and its decay products is the second-leading cause of lung cancer in America after cigarette smoking. According to Dr. L. Grodzins of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, in a document published in 1987 for Beckman Instruments, Inc., the decay of radon gives off more radiation than the amount an average nuclear power plant employee is exposed to. Early risk assessments have been more concerned about the radon in air than the radon in water. In fact, the only danger from radon in drinking water was thought to be that this radon could and did evaporate into the air. Today, more is known about the effects of radon ingested in drinking water. According to studies performed at Massachusetts General Hospital as part of the EPA's effort to regulate radon, it is now known that ingested (radon in drinking water) is first present for a significant length of time in the stomach, and then moves, in smaller quantities, to the small intestine, upper large intestine, lower large intestine, and from there to the portal blood, where it is rapidly carried to the liver, and to airspaces in the lung tissue. Radon may also reach general body tissue, where it is distributed uniformly. Although the lung tissue generally receives less of a dosage from ingested radon than it does from inhaled radon, we already know that lung cancer is a proven effect of radon exposure, so it is possible that radon in water contributes to lung cancer rates as well. Studies indicate that the stomach receives the greatest dose of radiation from ingested radon. The relationship between radon exposure and stomach and intestinal cancer is highly uncertain, and a better understanding of the actual risk factors involved awaits further epidemiological studies. It has been suggested that the alpha particles released by the nucleus of radon atoms and radon progeny as they decay, are responsible for most of the bodily damage caused by radon. When alpha particles are inhaled they may attach to lung tissue. Alpha particles can enter the lungs freely in the form of radon gas, or as a radon decay product attached to dust, smoke, lint or biological aerosols. While in the lung tissue, the energy emitted by the alpha particles has the potential to damage DNA molecules. The damaged DNA molecules may repair themselves, may die, or may replicate more damaged DNA molecules. If damaged cells are replicated, the danger of lung cancer arises. Exposure to radon does not always cause lung cancer, but it does increase a person's risk. Research has shown that lung cancer rates among miners of uranium, iron, and other hard rock minerals, who have worked within comparatively high quantities of radon, are higher than the lung cancer rates of underground miners of coal and gold, who have worked with comparatively low quantities of radon. This research also shows that the higher the radon concentrations were, and the longer the exposure, the more serious the risk of lung cancer grew. The lung cancers usually appeared at least 5 to 10 years after exposure. Studies of animals have shown that dogs, mice and rats, whose lungs are similar to humans, are also at increased risk of contracting lung cancer from exposure to radon and radon decay products.
Do Legal Limits Exist?
Radon in Water: As of the time of this writing there is no official U.S. limit on radon in water. By the authority granted to the EPA under the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA), the EPA has proposed a Maximum Containment Level (MCL) of 300 picocuries of radon per liter of water. Under the SDWA, each state would be required to monitor and enforce this regulation among public water supplies in their state. The SDWA does not require compliance among private wells or community water supplies (those serving less than 25 households annually). This proposed MCL has been promulgated and published in the Federal Register (July 1991) to become effective in April 1993. That limit may not, however, become effective, as proposed limits are subject to debate and legislative processes. Radon in Air: There is no federal limit on the amount of indoor airborne radon, as the EPA does not have the authority to regulate indoor residential air. The EPA has however established advisories and recommended action levels. Please refer to the section in this guide titled: "When Should I be Most Concerned About Radon".
Who Is At Most Risk?
Radon can cause lung cancer in any person, but it is believed that the risks increase if a person is exposed to radon for a longer period of time, and/or if they are exposed to greater concentrations. It is also believed that the combination of cigarette smoking and exposure to radon results in a synergistic (significantly greater because of the combination) risk than would result from either factor alone. Most of the individuals who get lung cancers attributable to radon have been smokers. According to a study conducted by the EPA, a non-smoking person exposed to between 10 and 20 picocuries of radon has a risk of lung cancer comparable to someone who smokes a pack of cigarettes a day. Despite the fact that a home may feel safe, it is possible for radon concentrations in that home to exceed the concentrations in an underground mine. Some American homes have radon levels so high that the people in the homes receive as large a dose of radiation as did the people living in the vicinity of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power plant in 1986, the year of the disaster (Kerr, R.A. Indoor radon: the deadliest pollutant. Science 240:606-608,1989). Radon will not irritate your eyes, nose or skin, nor does it have any immediate effect on your breathing. Symptoms usually appear five to twenty years after initial exposure. These symptoms can include coughing up blood, shortness of breath, or unexplained weight loss. See your physician if you develop any of these symptoms.
When Should I Be Most Concerned About Radon?
You should always he concerned about the risk of radon gas in your home, or in schools or other places; but you should be especially concerned if: You live in one of the following states: Colorado; Connecticut; Idaho; Illinois; Indiana; Iowa; Kansas; Kentucky; Maine; Maryland; Massachusetts; Minnesota; Missouri; Montana; Nebraska; New Hampshire; New jersey; New Mexico; New York; North Dakota; Ohio; Pennsylvania; Rhode Island; South Dakota; Tennessee; Utah; Vermont; Virginia; West Virginia; Wisconsin; or, Wyoming.
What Factors Can Affect Test Results?
Many factors can affect radon measurement, including a building's ventilation, how often its windows are open, how and where the radon is entering the building, and the temperature and humidity. Because of these factors, it is possible for the same home to have different radon levels at different times. It is important when conducting any radon test that you carefully follow instructions enclosed with the test.
A Brief Explanation of the Units Of Measurement
Radon is measured in picocuries per liter and written as (pCi/L). One picocurie is one-trillionth of 37 billion disintegrations per second. One curie, named for Marie Curie, the discoverer of metallic radium, is the amount of radiation given off by one gram of radium. Radon decay products (RDPs) such as polonium(218), lead(214), bismuth(214), and polonium(214), lead(210), bismuth(210), polonium(210) are measured in working levels (WL). A working level is the amount of RDP which normally results when the decay products are in equilibrium (maximum concentration) with 100 picocuries of radon in the air. RDPs are difficult to measure in a house though, because among other problems, RDPs have a static charge and tend to plate out (stick) to walls, furniture, clothing, dust, smoke, and other objects and substances. One of the problems with understanding the amount of risk due to a specific radon level measurement is that the risk statistics are based on an average lifetime (70 years) spent in an exposed area, even though the average American moves every 7 years, and is thus exposed to many different radon levels.
What Should I Do if I Find Radon In My Home?
The first thing you should do is determine whether the level of radon in your home is acceptable to you. Radiation always presents an element of health risk, but higher levels are, of course, more dangerous than lower ones. You can compare the reported level against the guidelines that have been set by the EPA. Various groups have also independently established levels that differ from the EPA. The American Society of Heating, Refrigeration, and Air Conditioning Engineers has set the lowest level, which suggests a radon action level of 2 picocuries per liter or less for commercial buildings and residences. The EPA has adopted a 4 picocuries per liter of air action level. The U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration, on the other hand, suggests an action level of 16 picocuries per liter (while miners are in underground mines). If you feel you have high levels of radon in your home, we recommend you increase the ventilation, limit the time anyone spends in the areas with highest concentrations, and consider other abatement mitigation methods. You should also consider contacting your State's radiation control program, regional EPA office, or other qualified professionals to determine what action might be taken to reduce your exposure.
What Can I Do Myself?
Some relatively easy and minor mitigation techniques that can be done by a non-professional are: · Increase the ventilation in your home (open windows and doors whenever possible.) · Limit the amount of time anyone spends in the areas of your home which have the greatest radon concentration (for example, the basement.) · If your home has a crawl space, keep the crawl space vents on all sides of the house fully open all year. · Stop smoking and discourage smoking in your home.
Some Facts About The Radon Abatement Industry
Radon abatement services exist in both the public and private sectors, nationwide. Many organizations and firms are capable of providing radon measurement, or mitigation and abatement services for existing structures, or preventative services for newly-constructed structures. The EPA has worked with builders, building inspectors, federal, state, and local code authorities, as well as with school officials, to develop these services further. The field of radon abatement is still relatively new and not all abatement contractors have equivalent skills. It is important to carefully evaluate the skills and competence of the individuals you select. Before hiring an abatement or mitigation firm. · Evaluate them properly, check with other homeowners in your area who have hired them, call your local Better Business Bureau or Chamber of Commerce. · Make sure the contractor has a permanent business location and a good reputation in the community. · Be cautious of high pressure tactics, also be cautious of any contractors who require a large down payment in cash. · Check that the contractor has the proper insurance and liability to protect you in case of an accident. · Ask for documentation as to the contractor's training and certification. · If at all possible, obtain more than one estimate. Estimates are usually free of charge. Be sure each estimate (and the subsequent contract) describes all the work to be done in detail, including quantity, quality, types, brands, and models of materials and products. Be sure the written version of the contract includes any oral promises that have been made to you. The contract should include the contractors’ warranty. Be sure the contract also specifies who will be responsible for acquiring and paying for building code permits and licenses. It is also a good idea to include a provision for testing for radon levels before and after the project. just to confirm that the desired amount of mitigation has taken place. · After having work performed, get post-mitigation testing. Radon levels should he significantly decreased. It is best if these measurements test the radon gas concentration in picocuries per liter of air.
Recent Controversies About Radon The EPA, The U.S. Surgeon General, NIOSH, The American Lung Association, The American Cancer Society, The World Health Organization, The Consumers Union, The National Research Council's Committee on the Biological Effects of Ionizing Radiation and The American Medical Association all agree that radon in home and work places is dangerous. The Health Physics Society, however, claim that radon is not a significant health risk when compared directly to smoking. Further controversy exists on the exact numbers with which to measure risk. For example, using the same studies, the National Council of Radiation Protection (NCRP) estimated that about 7 out of every 1,000 people would die from lung cancer attributable to radon and RDP exposure (over a 70 year period) at a level of .02 WL (4 pCi/L); while the EPA estimates that between 13 to 50 people out of 1,000 people would die at that level. Controversy even exists on what constitutes safe levels of exposure to radon. Different groups have made different value judgments as to what levels of risk are acceptable. Research on the health hazards of radon continue. Some scientists say that external exposure to radon and the possibility of swallowing radon presents no danger because alpha particles have little penetrating power and may be easily stopped by a barrier as thin as skin, or by the liquids in the gastrointestinal tract. Others are privately skeptical. The only thing that has been absolutely proven is that radon is a “Group A” carcinogen, which means that there are human data proving it causes lung cancer in people. Still, less dangerous carcinogens are prohibited and strictly controlled, while radon, which is ubiquitous (very common) to some areas, is hardly regulated. The dangers of radon exposure are greater, statistically, than the dangers of typical exposures to asbestos, pesticides such as ethylene dibromide, and air pollutants such as benzene.
Types Of Radiation Uranium and radium emit radiation in the form of alpha, beta and gamma rays, as do the following other radioactive elements: actinium, polonium, plutonium and thorium, power plain. Alpha Radiation: is considered the most dangerous product associated with radon gas. As the atom decays, its nucleus releases alpha particles which have a positive charge, are somewhat affected by magnetic fields, and have very little penetrating power. Because of this lack of penetrating power, an inch of air, or a few sheets of paper, or a person’s skin may stop alpha particles. Alpha particles, which are the mass of two protons and two neutrons, disperse their energy quickly, and can damage molecules as they pass through them. A hazard exists if a person breathes in these particles, or somehow swallows them, such as in drinking water. Alpha radiation can also he found in nuclear power plants. Beta Radiation: Beta particles, which are also released from the nucleus of a radioactive atom, have a negative charge, and a mass equal to that of an electron. Beta radiation is faster than alpha radiation, and can be drastically affected by the presence of a magnetic field. Beta particles also have more penetrating power than alpha particles, and can penetrate about .5 centimeters into a person’s body. Gamma Radiation: Gamma rays have no mass, no charge, and a penetrating power weaker than that of either alpha or beta radiation. Gamma rays are not affected by magnetic fields, and can pass right though a human body. They are emitted as photons, can travel at about the speed of light, and behave very much like x-rays. Gamma radiation can also be found in nuclear power plants. Gamma rays are spontaneously, but not always, emitted from decaying atoms.
Is Gamma Radiation Dangerous?
The National Council of Radiation Protection (NCRP) has set federal guidelines for residential exposure to radiation. This limit is 0.058 mR/hr, which can also be expressed as 0.000058 R/hr. This guideline covers any type of radiation, man-made or natural. It has not been clearly established that exposures above this level lead to increased mortality (death rates), but many medical professionals believe that any exposure to radiation leads to an increased incidence (chance) of cancer.
What Should I Do If There Are Radionuclides Which Emit Gamma Radiation In My Home?
Since gamma radiation is associated with radioactive elements such as uranium, radium and radon, reducing the level of radon in your home might also reduce the level of gamma radiation. Gamma radiation is emitted from a wide spectrum of radioisotopes, and a reduction in the level of one may reduce your overall gamma radiation exposure to a more acceptable level.
HOW WE TEST FOR RADON
The Professional Radon Gas Test Products we use utilize the most advanced liquid scintillation, short–term detectors, which contain silica gel desiccants (patented) necessary to remove all moisture in order to make your test results accurate and reliable. Testing involves us placing radon detectors in the lowest level of your home or office for a period of 96 hours to allow time for the detectors to absorb enough radon to be analyzed according to EPA standards. We then Seal the detectors and send them to a Laboratory for analysis.
Professional laboratory test results are mailed to the company/individual requestiung the test, indicating the exact radon level in the tested area. For real estate transactions, an express service is also available.
Once we have tested your home or office, you can then make any changes necessary to protect you and your family from further exposure to radon.
RADON GAS IN AIR TEST
Radon gas has been found in varying amounts in every state in the U.S. killing up to 30,000 people each year from lung cancer.
Our Professional Radon Gas Test offers you a professional radon analysis of your home or office. If you ever conducted a radon test and your results were above 4 pci/L, we strongly recommend that you immediately do a repeat test for result confirmation before you take any further action. Also, if your home or office uses well water, this could be the source of your radon problem. We suggest testing your well water.
You will receive your results within one week from the date we remove your detectors.
RADON GAS IN WATER TEST
Over 17,000 homeowners with well water are affected by water-borne radon according to the U.S. EPA. Radon is the 2nd leading cause of lung cancer and is emitted in homes from well water during showering, cleaning, brushing your teeth, and doing laundry.
Our Professional Radon Gas Test utilizes patented liquid scintillation technology that offers EPA proficiency results, within 2 weeks. Lab fees are included in our pricing.
17,000 Homeowners are affected by water borne radon according to the U.S.
Express service for real estate transactions is available. Info
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about our lab reports.