Radon enters your home through pores in the basement concrete and travels to low pressure air inside of your basement. This air then travels upwards through the home by the stack effect. This stack effect results in 40% of basement air ending up in the living space of your home.
Fact! Basement air traveling upward through your home is called stack effect.
The dangers of radon gas are frightening and real. Concrete alone is too porous to stop it from entering. Through under slab ventilation and vapor barrier on the exterior walls, however, radon can be greatly diminished. These precautions are especially important when finishing your basement or when a high radon level is detected.
A sealed water system is superior to open drainage systems and those without a vapor barrier. By not allowing these to breathe, you can reduce radon introduction. Our system is also easily retrofitted to vent under slab air outside, resulting in a truly one stop shop system.
What is radon and how dangerous is it?
Radon gas is energy lost from uranium breaking down into simpler elements called byproducts. The energy is released in three different forms, one of which is the more dangerous form than the other two. This form is an alpha particle, which is a high speed atom of 2 protons and 2 neutrons moving so fast that when it collides with human tissue it disturbs the atomic structure of the tissue. The body can take this to some degree and re-stabilize itself; however in large or prolonged doses it can be a significant cause of cancer.
Why is it called radon?
Most dangers from radon are from the breakdown of the two poloniums, which are byproducts of radon. We call it radon poisoning because it’s shorter than explaining or listing all the half life elements (time it takes to break down) byproducts of uranium that are dangerous. Radon is the first gas of the long chain of half lives from its parent, which is a solid. (Uranium) It’s also radon’s long half life (3.5 days) which is long enough for it to escape from deep beneath the soil to the surface, where it is dangerous.
Who is most susceptible and what kind of cancer does it cause?
Everyone is susceptible to radon gas dangers since we’re already exposed to it on an average of 0.4 picocuries or more everywhere at all times and an average of 1.3 picocuries in most U.S. homes inside structures at their lowest living area. Exposures over 4 picocuries is considered a hot area and your chances of lung cancer go up by over 20%. If you’re a smoker, it is incrementally worse due to the particles in the smoke acting as a taxi for the radon gas to enter the sensitive tissue in your lungs. Exposure is exponential and even at a rating of 6, which is considered low, is five times more exposure than the safe home of 1.3 picocuries. At a rating of 20, the dangers are very serious and increases with smoking, which makes it even more dangerous.
What does 4 picocuries mean and what levels are safe?
4 picocuries is the radon level inside a home where the EPA requires people to remediate it. A difference from 1 picocurie to 4 picocuries is 4 times greater chance of cancerous exposure, and is by no means a low number. It is Kinetic Basements goal to get radon not to pass the EPA’s 4 picocuries, but to get levels as low as possible for each structure. A radon level of 3 is still awful for you and you’re still at risk, just not high enough for the government to force you into remediation expenses.
It is our companies goal to get homes as low as possible, even below the national average when structure design is conducive.
Radon and New Construction
Testing on soils prior to construction is not an accurate way of testing a site. It’s also important to know that during pre-construction there are passive designs (ones that use no power) that can be used to make all homes almost as low as outside levels and correct moisture problems at the same time. Post construction mediation can be much more costly, less effective, and almost always requires electricity, although usually minimal.
Fact: Most radon systems are also dehumidifiers that are incredibly efficient. It can sometimes alleviate the need for dehumidification inside the living space.
In our findings crawl spaces, even partial ones, are the worst for radon gas. It’s difficult to fight humidity problems in them and not have radon levels rise. It’s required to have a vent every 150 sq. feet with one minimum in every crawl space. But what do people do in the summer? They close their vents to block humidity. And what do they do in winter? They close their vents to prevent cold floors and frost. The answer to this issue is to install slabs with sub floor aggregate or a cheaper method being vapor barrier. Both of which are helpful with moisture, which is an equally big issue in NY. The vapor barrier or concrete must be sealed with proper air flow underneath to passive or fan ventilation.
Geographic Hot Zones
Radon is released from hard rocks like granite and shale. If you have a home over these types of rocks, even deep beneath, your chances of high radon levels is multiplied. However, this doesn’t mean that you can’t have radon in sand or clay, it’s just less likely.
Why have testing by a professional who is EPA certified?
Radon is a tricky substance to test for and requires studying and classes to learn. There are many different scenarios that can cause a mixed reading, usually indicating that the structure is safe, when indeed it is not! For example, weather conditions, time of day, water table levels, etc. are factors that can change radon significantly. You can have a reading change 10 fold overnight due to a rainstorm, barometric pressure, and wind. In NY stack effect in winter is one of the biggest variables and radon testing from summer to winter can be strikingly different.