RADON

Radon is a chemically inert, naturally occurring radioactive gas. It has no smell, color or taste. Radon is produced from the natural radioactive decay of uranium, which is found in rocks and soil. Radon escapes from the ground into the air, where it disintegrates through short-lived decay products called radon daughters (also known as radon progeny) or decay products. Unlike the gaseous radon itself, radon daughters are solids and stick to surfaces, such as dust particles in the air. As radon progeny decay, they emit radioactive alpha particles and attach to aerosols, dust and other particles in the air. As we breathe, radon progeny is deposited on the respiratory tract and can cause cancers.” Soil gas infiltration is recognized as the most important source of radon in occupied structures and is the second cause of lung cancer after smoking. Most of the radon-induced lung cancer cases occur among smokers due to a strong combined effect of smoking and radon.

The unit of measurement for radon is expressed as picocurie per liter, or pCi/L. OSHA has established acceptable levels of radon exposure in the workplace. They list levels for general and construction industry; for radon, the levels are identical. The limits apply to workers over the age of 18 and are based upon exposure during 40 hours of work over a consecutive 7- day period. OSHA places the exposure at 100 pCi/L. By comparison, the Environmental Protection Agency sets guidelines for radon in homes. It recommends that levels remain below 4 pCi/L to be safe. Normal outside air tests at 0.4 pCi/L and the average home rates 1.3 pCi/L, according to the EPA.

In October 1988, Congress enacted the Indoor Radon Abatement Act (EPA 1988), which established a long-term goal of indoor air as radon-free as the ambient, outside air. The law authorized funding for radon-related activities at the state and federal levels to:

  • Establish state programs and providing technical assistance,

  • Conduct radon surveys of schools and federal buildings,

  • Establish training centers and a proficiency program for firms offering radon services,

  • Develop a citizen's guide to radon, and

  • Develop model construction standards.

 

The following table was extrapolated from Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry (ATSDR).

Radon measurements are are essential to assess radon concentration in occupied structures. Indoor radon concentration varies with the construction of buildings and ventilation habits. These concentrations not only vary substantially with the season but also from day to day and even from hour to hour. Because of these fluctuations, estimating the annual average concentration of radon in indoor air requires reliable measurements of mean radon concentrations for at least three months and preferably longer. Short-term measurements provide only a crude indication of the actual radon concentration. Quality assurance for radon measurement devices is highly recommended in order to ensure the quality of measurements.

 

Elite Environmental Services LLC conducts affordable, professional short-term or long-term radon tests that meet the EPA’s standards of radon testing. The testing device will be placed in the lowest level of the home or building suitable for occupancy. Call us at 509-759-7480 for your radon testing.

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