Radon in Lancaster homes is pervasive but there is a good way to reduce it

By Robert Field

 Below is information from federal EPA and Wikipedia concerning the dangers from radon radiation. Our region and most of Pennsylvania (and much of the USA) are classified asmin the danger zone.

Map of Radon Zones in Pennsylvania based on Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) data

Map of Radon Zones in the United States based on Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) data

Wikipedia on health risks from radon:

The invisible menace, toxic fumes in your home

Toxic Fumes Inside Our Homes

My observations:  The best precaution may be increasing circulation of fresh air.   A major problem has been the super insulation of homes, especially new structures, thus trapping radon and other toxic fumes from various sources within the residence.

Earlier generations had coal heat and thus slept with windows partially opened a good bit of the time to control temperatures..

When tests for radon levels are run with windows partially open, levels are far lower, usually within the lower, comparatively safe levels. Tests usually require that all doors and windows be closed.

So why not allow some small amount of outside air circulation in the basement or on the first floor to protect against radon and toxic fumes, especially with homes with wall and attic insulation?

This is basically is what expensive remediation efforts accomplish, when they continue to function.

I regret now the extensive means we went to in our latter apartment complexes in sealing around openings to the exterior. We were obsessed with saving energy and unaware about saving lives.

 

 

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Updated: January 11, 2017 — 8:57 am

3 Comments

  1. It’s my understanding that radon levels in homes can be higher in winter, not only because windows and doors are closed but because the ground is frozen.

    Radon gas finds the easiest way out of the ground, when the ground is frozen it can’t escape, so it’s more likely to escape through basement floors into the home.

  2. For 22 years in Vermont I lived in a home built on the edge of a granite gravel pit; a prime source of Radon gas. The gravel extended several thousand feet beyond my home. The home was a split level design and had a french drain in the basement which went directly into the granite below the basement floor. When we sold the house the buyers inspector measured high levels of radon, especially next to that drain. It concerned me, especially that the bedrooms were all on the lower level and we slept there for 22 years. I made a second independent test which confirmed the first test. But I also discovered from a expert at the University of Vermont that there is no causal connection between lung cancer and naturally occurring radon in homes. I was told that the government attributes cancer caused by radon to those non-smokers who get lung cancer where radon is present. Not especially scientific. Incidentally, no one in the family have any form of cancer.

  3. For 22 years in Vermont I lived in a home built on the edge of a granite gravel pit; a prime source of Radon gas. The gravel extended several thousand feet beyond my home. The home was a split level design and had a french drain in the basement which went directly into the granite below the basement floor.

    When we sold the house the buyers inspector measured high levels of radon, especially next to that drain. It concerned me, especially that the bedrooms were all on the lower level and we slept there for 22 years. I made a second independent test which confirmed the first test. But I also discovered from a expert at the University of Vermont that there is no causal connection between lung cancer and naturally occurring radon in homes.

    I was told that the government attributes cancer caused by radon to those non-smokers who get lung cancer where radon is present. Not especially scientific. Incidentally, no one in the family have any form of cancer.

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