The greater the air pressure difference between your home and outside air the more your house acts like a vacuum and draws radon in.
Air pressure inside your home is usually lower than the pressure in the soil around your home's foundation. Because of this difference in pressure, your house acts like a giant vacuum, drawing radon in through foundation cracks and other openings. Your home then traps the radon inside, where it can build up.
Radon originally comes from the natural breakdown of uranium in soil, rocks and water. Radon gas then escapes from the ground into the air outside. When radon mixes with the air outside, it’s not a problem: the air outside dilutes the amount of radon. But when radon seeps into a closed-in space like a house, it can be harmful. The radon gas can become trapped inside. You and your family can breathe in high levels of radon without knowing it. Remember, radon is a colorless and odorless gas that is naturally released.
Experience with radon mitigation systems has developed to the point that virtually any home can be fixed, either by a trained and licensed radon contractor, or in some cases, by homeowners who do the repairs themselves. One out of 15 homes nationally may have elevated indoor radon levels that should be lower.
Radon is a cancer-causing radioactive gas. It is classified as a class-one carcinogen, which is a proven cancer-causing agent. The radioactive decay products of radon gas can attach themselves to lung tissue when radon gas is inhaled. Since radon has a 3.8 day half-life, it is likely that when a radon atom is inhaled it will be exhaled again before it decays. As the radon concentrations increase, the quantity of radon gas that has the potential to decay while still inside your lungs also increases, thereby resulting in a greater health risk. However, simple mechanical ventilation can reduce the risk of radon exposure.
Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in United States. Radon exposure in the U.S. is estimated to be the cause of 21,00 lung cancer related deaths each year. Radon decays very quickly, giving off tiny radioactive particles. When inhaled, these radioactive particles can damage the lung cells. Long-term exposure to radon can lead to lung cancer.
Sub-membrane suction is an effective way to reduce high radon levels in homes with crawlspaces. This method often involves covering the exposed earth floor with a high-density plastic sheet. A vent pipe and fan are used to draw the radon from under the sheet and vent it to the outdoors.
Sealing cracks and other openings in the foundation is a simple and basic part of most approaches to radon reduction. Sealing the cracks limits the flow of radon into your home, thereby making other radon reduction techniques more effective and cost-efficient.
is the most common and usually the most reliable radon reduction method. One or more suction pipes are inserted through the floor slab into the crushed rock or soil underneath.
Passive sub-slab suction is the same as active sub-slab suction except it relies on natural pressure differentials and air currents instead of a fan to draw radon up from below the home.
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There are certainly several other ways to reduce elevated radon levels other than the few we're mentioning here. But these are the most commonly used techniques today.
Here are several methods that we can use to lower radon levels in your home. Some of these techniques prevent radon from entering your home while others reduce radon levels after it has entered.
EPA generally recommends methods that first prevent the entry of radon. Soil suction, for example, prevents radon from entering your home by drawing the radon from below the home and venting it through a pipe, or pipes, to the air above the home where it is quickly diluted.
Block-wall suction can be used in basement homes with hollow block foundation walls. This method removes radon and depressurizes the block wall, similar to sub-slab suction. This method is often used in combination with sub-slab suction. That's a sub-slab suction pipe mitigates block wall, too.
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