Read EPA's Citizen's Guide to Radon: The Guide to Protecting Yourself and Your Family from Radon
EPA estimates that about 21,000 lung cancer deaths each year in the U.S. are radon related. Exposure to radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer after smoking. Radon is an odorless, tasteless and invisible gas produced by the decay of naturally occurring uranium in soil and water. Radon is a form of ionizing radiation and a proven carcinogen. Lung cancer is the only known effect on human health from exposure to radon in air. Thus far, there is no evidence that children are at greater risk of lung cancer than are adults.
Radon in air is ubiquitous. Radon is found in outdoor air and in the indoor air of buildings of all kinds. EPA recommends homes be fixed if the radon level is 4 pCi/L (picocuries per liter) or more. Because there is no known safe level of exposure to radon, EPA also recommends that Americans consider fixing their home for radon levels between 2 pCi/L and 4 pCi/L. The average radon concentration in the indoor air of America's homes is about 1.3 pCi/L. It is upon this level that EPA based its estimate of 21,000 radon-related lung cancers a year upon. It is for this simple reason that EPA recommends that Americans consider fixing their homes when the radon level is between 2 pCi/L and 4 pCi/L. The average concentration of radon in outdoor air is .4 pCi/L or 1/10th of EPA's 4 pCi/L action level.
For smokers the risk of lung cancer is significant due to the synergistic effects of radon and smoking. For this population about 62 people in a 1,000 will die of lung-cancer, compared to 7.3 people in a 1,000 for never smokers. Put another way, a person who never smoked (never smoker) who is exposed to 1.3 pCi/L has a 2 in 1,000 chance of lung cancer; while a smoker has a 20 in 1,000 chance of dying from lung cancer. Smokers are at a much higher risk than never smokers, e.g., at 8 pCi/L the risk to smokers is six times the risk to never smokers.
The radon health risk is underscored by the fact that in 1988 Congress added Title III on Indoor Radon Abatement to the Toxic Substances Control Act. It codified and funded EPA's then fledgling radon program. Also, that year, the Office of the U.S. Surgeon General issued a warning about radon urging Americans to test their homes and to reduce the radon level when necessary (U.S. Surgeon General).
Unfortunately, many Americans presume that because the action level is 4 pCi/L, a radon level of less than 4 pCi/L is "safe". This perception is altogether too common in the residential real estate market. In managing any risk, we should be concerned with the greatest risk. For most Americans, their greatest exposure to radon is in their homes; especially in rooms that are below grade (e.g., basements), rooms that are in contact with the ground and those rooms immediately above them.
Sub-Membrane Depressurization (SMD) may be required for crawl spaces that have exposed gravel or dirt and are not concrete covered. With the SMD method, a plastic sheet (Polyethylene or similar) is permanently installed over exposed rock and soil. A fan is then installed to create suction under the plastic sheeting, drawing the radon out from the soil into a PVC pipe, then safely exhausted away from the home, minimizing radon from entering ambient indoor air, similar to the SSD method.
Both Sub-Slab & Sub-Membrane Depressurization systems must run continuously to be effective. These systems use little electricity, are relatively quiet, and require very little maintenance. It is recommended that a professional inspect the system periodically to ensure proper performance.
Exhaust fans and piping are typically mounted on the exterior "equipment" side, of the building, towards the back, in the most inconspicuous space. Optional fan housing units are available for aesthetic purposes.
Exhaust piping is standard 3-inch PVC. Both the pipe and the fan housing may be painted to match the exterior or the home siding or trim.
Floor cracks are sealed with radonproof caulking. This caulking is only intended to stop radon from entering the home, it is not a waterproofing technique. If you have problems with water entering the basement or have flooding problems, you will need to have this addressed separately by a waterproofing specialist.
State of Illinois Tag
The State of Illinois requires that a state tag be affixed to every system installed in this state. Only state-licensed Mitigators such as Will County Radon can acquire these tags. Will County Radon supplies this tag at no extra expense to our customers.
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