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Radon-Something in The Air

Although it may not be appreciable on the surface, air quality is still something to be concerned with - especially living in New England. Oftentimes the quality of the air in your household may be unhealthy without you even knowing it. Various carcinogenic vapors and pollutants are tasteless, smell-less and invisible to the naked eye. One of the most pernicious of the airborne carcinogens that you will encounter, here in the Northeast, is called radon.

Radon gas is an omnipresent element, on our planet. It’s spreads from the very soil beneath your feet and lurks in the water that comes out of your sink - in trace amounts. These traces of lingering radon are a product of uranium decaying radioactively and naturally, in the ground. Because this organic process is happening all around us, at all times, the total avoidance of radon gas is impossible.

It is important to know what an acceptable level of radon is, and in order to mitigate any potential damage, to be certain that the radon gas levels in your building(s) are safe.

Something in the Air

January is National Radon Action Month, so it’s the perfect time to get educated!

Based on the consistency of the soil in your region, you may be at a greater risk for radon gas poisoning. Granite, for instance, is a well known carrier of naturally occurring radioactive materials - or NORMs. Radon emanates from all stone products, including countertops and other concrete furnishings. But the emanation of radon from these sources is much less damaging than the emanation of radon from the soil beneath buildings.

Because the air pressure in buildings is typically lower than the air pressure below, a vacuum effect inevitably occurs, lifting radon gas from the soil up into the building. Radon tests are usually performed before and after a building is constructed. But if you’ve done any renovating or if you just want to be certainly safe, it’s beneficial to check the radon levels in your home or business. This can be done rather simply.

The ceiling for the acceptable level of radon is 4 pCi/l. This is 4 trillionths of a gram of radium - immeasurably small. Just about 90% of the state of Maine is considered a Zone 1 Radon Zone. This means it is presumed that indoor air, in most of Maine, naturally contains 4 pCi/l of radon gas or more.

There are options when it comes to the remedying of a radon problem.

Radon test kits can be easily purchased online. But going with a professional is always the more impeccable route. In Maine, testers and installers of radon mitigation systems have to be certified in order to work in your building.

Usually a radon gas problem is alleviated through ventilation systems. Active soil depressurization is the most common method used. This is the process of redistributing gas emanating from a slab or from the ground below, through PVC piping, to an area above the roof of a building. Mechanical ventilation systems have also proved effective, especially if the radon gas is coming from furnishings.

It is never too late to understand your radon risk. Yes, it is an invisible and often undetected problem. But radon gas can cause serious damage and it is overwhelmingly present in the Northeast region of the United States. If you’re worried about radon gas in your building, contact your local center for disease control & prevention or a radon mitigation systems contractor.