Technology Snapshot &
Health benefits can accrue from designing and building features that effectively
remove radon from your home. Radon is a colorless, tasteless, odorless
radioactive gas that can seep into your basement or the
lowest livable space in the
home from surrounding soil. Decomposition
products attach to very small particles in the air and these can be breathed
deeply into the lungs, potentially resulting in serious health consequences.
National statistics indicate that one in fifteen homes in the U.S. have
unacceptable levels of radon.
The only way to know whether your
house has unacceptable levels of radon is to have the
lowest livable space in the
home tested. You may test yourself using kits
that are available at home supply stores or seek professional
assistance. Winter is the best time to test since doors and windows are kept
closed allowing radon concentrations to reach detectable levels.
If radon occurs as a result of out gassing from the
soil, the most common reason, this can be readily mitigated with ventilation for
roughly $1,000. Removal
technology is simple and straightforward. It involves blocking points of entry
into the lowest livable
space in the home and venting areas to the
outside using an active circulation system to exhaust basement air. Usually
plastic ducting and piping are sufficient, and these low-cost materials help
keep total costs low.
In a few rare cases, it has been discovered that foundations were made of
radioactive mine tailings or other waste materials. In these situations, the
costs of radon mitigation become substantially more than $1,000.
Estimated Cost Savings:
Cost savings of radon mitigation is measured in terms of assuring the
quality of indoor air and preventing any health
problems associated with radon. A typical cost to eliminate radon from
the home is on the order of $1,000, with costs ranging from several hundred to
several thousand dollars. Most people find this to be more than worth the
investment, when protecting the health of family and loved ones.
Remedies will likely involve some sort of ducting to the outside. You
should think carefully about how best to design the ducting, keeping in mind
both aesthetic and practical considerations.
Some regions of the country have soils and rocks with higher levels of radon
than others. Even in areas prone to radon infiltration, there is no way of
knowing for sure that you have a problem without testing. Testing is inexpensive
and easy and should be performed when buying or selling a home.
(Getting It Done):
Be sure to get two or three (or more) bids from designers and/or building
contractors to gain immediate perspective on the actual costs of radon
mitigation and equipment installation details in your area.
Videos On This Topic:
What Is Radon? (4:35) - U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency -
Radon is one of
the lesser-known harmful gases in homes and buildings. In this video from the
EPA, find out what radon is, why it's so dangerous, and what you can do to help
prevent radon from infiltrating your home.
Install Radon Mitigation (3:22) - This Old House -
Once you have
identified radon as a source of an indoor air quality problem, there are a few
different ways you can go about mitigating the problem. In this video, watch as
This Old House's Kevin O'Connor walks through one way to help resolve the
problem of radon contamination.
Articles on This Topic:
Protection Agency: Indoor Air - Radon
Environmental Protection Agency: A Citizen's Guide to Radon
Geological Survey: The Geology of Radon
National Safety Council - Radon