Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Radon MItigation

The radon mitigation is complete.  Well, it has been complete, I'm just now getting around to posting it up.  The installation took roughly a half day with two insertion points into the slab in the basement.  For those reading that are unfamiliar with Radon and it's importance, here's a quick synopsis.  

Radon is a radioactive gas that is colorless, odorless and tasteless.  It is an element that comes from the breakdown of uranium and can be found being given off from igneous rock, soil and sometimes well water.  It can lead to lung cancer and 20,000 cases of lung cancer a year are attributed to the exposure of Radon.  Radon is found everywhere, it's the level of your Radon exposure that matters.

The EPA set a standard reading of 4.0 pCi/L as a maximum exposure level before remediation.  This does not mean that Radon is harmless at or below 4.0 pCi/L, but that the government issues a certain limit for remediation to be considered.  What does 4.0 pCi/L mean?  Doing a little searching online found this comparison:
A family whose home has radon levels of 4 pCi/L is exposed to approximately 35 times as much radon as the Nuclear Regulatory Commission would allow if that family was standing next to the fence of a radioactive waste site.  (25 mrem limit, 800 mrem exposure).(Source:
Now, doesn't that just scare the crap out of you!

During our home inspection, a Radon test was conducted and a reading of 5.0 pCi/L was found.  Through negotiation, we were able to have the seller pay for the remediation to reduce that amount to a more acceptable level.  The test was conducted in the basement where the seller had previously had a concrete floor poured over the original dirt floored basement.  Radon can seep through most materials, which includes concrete.  For each floor of the home, the Radon exposure is reduced in half.  So, the first floor would be 2.5 pCi/L, second floor would be 1.25 pCi/L, etc.  The only true way to get rid of this carcinogen is to pump it out.

The contractor selected came for a preliminary visit to discuss the installation of a sub-slab depressurization unit.  Our home's addition has a separate foundation from that of the original footprint.  Because of this division, two insertion points were required.  Each point is a drilled hole through the concrete slab that has a PVC pipe coming out of it that ultimately leads to an exterior mounted pump.  The pump runs 24 hours a day creating a negative pressure within the pipe that draws the air from underneath the slabs and out of the home, kinda like a bathroom vent fan, just more expensive.  I requested that the installer install the pump on the rear of our home so that the curb appeal isn't blemished with a large white pump and piping.

So what did this cost?  Each insertion point was $250.  So, after tacking in any applicable taxes, labor fees, pump cost and the insertion points, the total was $1,300.00.  Our Radon levels have dropped from 5.0 pCi/L to 0.7 pCi/L in the basement.