The cancer-causing gas is odourless, invisible, and seeping up through the ground throughout the majority of the United States. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) website is the first place you should look for localised details and additional resources concerning this silent killer. Surprisingly few individuals understand the threat that this gas poses to human health. My parents have made numerous Midwest homebuying attempts over the past few years.
My father, a cancer survivor and asthma sufferer, had the Radon levels examined in all of the prospective homes. The area around here has 5 houses checked out. Radon levels in all of these homes were found to be at least 5 times higher than the EPA’s recommended limit. This entire neighbourhood was bustling with activity since every house was occupied. My dad’s oncologist has cautioned him against ever residing in a home with radon levels above the minimum safe threshold. Unless the homes in the area have been updated with a vapour retarder, I suspect that most of them would have tested above unsafe levels.
The next piece of information that people need is that there are products called radon retarders or radon barriers, which, when properly installed, can successfully prevent radon from entering a home. The majority of these items traditionally used foil, making them quite expensive to produce. VaporBlock 20Plus is a polyethylene-based substance that acts as a powerful Radon, Methane, water vapour, and volatile organic compound (VOC) retarder. The plastic used in this item is of the latest generation, with a significantly more compact cell structure.
This more compact cellular structure will prevent the tiny gas molecules from crossing the membrane. Common vapour retarders used in home construction today, and very definitely the products used a decade or more ago in most regions of the country, are easily penetrated by these gases. Visqueen, C&A film, or Construction and Agricultural grade polyethylene sheeting is the cheapest plastic sheeting available and is all that is specified as an under-slab or under-basement vapour retarder in most of the United States today. Very often, no effort has been made at all!
This grade of polyethylene sheeting is not suitable for use as a vapour or moisture barrier. In my opinion, manufactured films are the way to go for this situation. The price difference is negligible, but the performance improvement is enormous. Our very well-being is in jeopardy. All too often, we overlook the potential danger posed by invisible gases.
It is often possible for homeowners to retrofit their homes with these materials and greatly increase their safety by installing them themselves. Any time this issue arises, contractors can employ these engineered goods to protect their clients and their clients’ families. At the very least, I think homebuilders should provide customers the choice of purchasing such a product. The issue is that not enough people are aware of the difficulty or the answer.
Planning For Radon Mitigation in Your New Home
Radiation from radon gas is an increasing hazard in many parts of the United States. An Iowa University study found that radon is the leading cause of lung cancer in never-smokers.
You should think ahead and budget for a Radon Mitigation System if you intend to build a home in a high-risk location. There are several places where a test is already required with every residential real estate transaction, and this is likely to grow to include most of the higher risk locations. In any case, the minimal cost to establish such a system is more than justified by the benefits to your health.
Basic installation in a basement or slab-on-grade foundation is burying a perforated pipe in crushed rock beneath the slab and splicing it into the basement floor. A passive radon mitigation system consists of a pipe that vents the gas to the outside (ideally through the roof so as not to affect any nearby windows). If take action on radon is performed on your home after construction is complete and excessive levels are found, you may need to switch to an Active Radon Mitigation System, which involves installing a fan that runs constantly to create low pressure under the slab and increase the rate at which the gas evacuates the building. As a result, the slab penetration should be at an easily reached spot with nearby electricity to power the fan.
Most of the United States has detectable levels of radon gas. Follow this link to access the EPA’s Radon Map Zone
The riskiest radon map zone colours are the pink ones, followed by the orange and the yellow ones. To view the threat level in your county, please click here.
Particularly if your home has a slab-on-grade or crawl space foundation, the fan is likely to be installed there. Water dripping down the vent pipe onto the slab below is not desirable for a number of reasons and should be avoided if at all possible.