Archive for April, 2012
Radioactive Radon Levels and their Harmful Effects on Ann Arbor, Michigan
Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas that is created during the slow breakdown of elements like uranium, which is found in many types of soil and rocks. Radon gas is tasteless, odorless and colorless; generally found first in basements and crawlspaces that it enters through foundational cracks, it can build up to levels that are very harmful to you and your family if not removed promptly. 4.0 picocuries per liter of air is the radon level at which the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recommends that people take immediate action to remove the gas from their homes. The consequences of not doing so can be extremely serious; radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the continental United States, and is responsible for approximately 21,000 deaths each year.
Testing for Elevated Radon Levels
Testing your home for radon is fairly easy and inexpensive. Ann Arbor’s health officials offer home radon testing kits for as little as $10 per kit, which includes the laboratory analysis. There are two tests that can be performed, one that takes about a week and one that can last for more than a year. The shorter test, called the charcoal test, consists of an activated carbon device. It must be used under closed house conditions to detect the level of radon inside your home. The longer test uses a passive monitor, which requires no power and is only used when a higher level of radon is detected in the home. Of course, a professional test will be more quick and accurate than any home test kit. SWAT Environmental’s radon experts offer this type of professional test.
Safe and Unsafe Radon Levels
Radon levels have been tracked in Ann Arbor since the 1980s. Radon tests have been collected and compared to other locations to create different zones, each labeled by the level of danger radon produces in it. Ann Arbor homes are at a very high risk for this problem; about 12 percent of Ann Arbor’s single-family homes contain radon levels above the danger cutoff of 4.0 picocuries per liter. Including other types of buildings, the number containing radon levels greater than 4.0 picocuries per liter may surpass 40 percent. Although not all homes in Ann Arbor contain dangerous radon levels, it is important to remember that any home could. If your home is one that is contaminated, you would never know it. Regular testing, therefore, is critical.
Lowering Excessive Radon Levels
Radon levels can be reduced via the installation of a mitigation system. The exact components necessary vary somewhat from house to house; SWAT Environmental’s mitigation experts can design the best system for your home. The most common method uses a vent pipe system and fan; it actually pulls the radon from beneath the house and vents it directly outside. Of course, another important step of the mitigation process is finding and sealing the means by which the radon gas gets into your house in the first place. With these systems in place, you will no longer need to worry about harm coming to your family from built-up radon levels.
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