Radon in Construction

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					Radon in Construction

 Cindy Ladage & Patrick Daniels
                 What is Radon?

   Radon is a colorless, odorless, tasteless,
    naturally-occurring, radioactive gas.

   The Surgeon General of the United States:
    “Indoor radon is the second-leading cause of
    lung cancer in the United States and
    breathing it over prolonged periods can
    present a significant health risk to families all
    over the country.”
             R. William Field, PhD.
            College of Public Health
 Radon  is our
 cause of cancer
 mortality in the
 United States and
 seventh leading
 cause of cancer
 mortality overall.
                       Lung Cancer
                       Mortality Rates

             Estimated Mortality of Lung Cancer in 2009
               "2009 Facts & Figures" - American Cancer Society






 80,000   159,390


 20,000                                           40,610
           Lung            Colon/Rectal           Breast          Prostate
                 Radon Exposure Is Linked to Lung
                 Cancer From Inhalation of the Gas

    Radon and Radon Decay
     Products (RDPs) are
     breathed in and the Radon is

    RDPs remain in lung tissue
     and emit alpha particles
     which strike lung cells and
     may cause physical and/or
     chemical damage to DNA.
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                 Illinois Policy on Radon

IEMA recommends testing throughout Illinois.

IEMA recommends mitigation if the radon level
is 4.0 pCi/L or more.
               Radon Legislation

 Radon   Industry Licensing Act (RILA)

 Radon   Awareness Act

 Real   Property Disclosure Act

 None of these Acts require radon
 testing or mitigation.
                                           Sources of Radiation
                                           Exposure to US public
                                      Other - 1%
                                                                        Average Exposure
                                        Medical X-Rays - 12%
                                                                         620 mrem
         Radon - 37%
                                                                        Assumes average
                                                                         indoor radon
                                              Internal - 5%              concentration of
                                                                         1.3 pCi/L.
                                      Nuclear Medicine – 12%            Radon is by far the
                                                                         greatest single
CAT Scans - 24%
                                                                         source of radiation
                                Consumer Products - 2%                   exposure to the
     Cosmic - 5%                                                         general public.
                   Terrestrial - 3%       Source: National Council on Radiation Protection (NCRP Report 160)
              Sources of Radiation
               Exposure in Illinois
                Other - < 1%                Average Exposure
                Medical X-Rays - 6%
                                             1,170 mrem

                Internal - 2%               Assumes average
                                             Illinois indoor radon
                Nuclear Medicine – 6%
Radon - 67%                                  concentration of 4.4
                Consumer Products - 1%
                Terrestrial - 2%
                Cosmic - 3%                 Radon is by far the
                CAT Scans - 24%
                                             greatest single
                                             source of radiation
                                             exposure to the
                                             general public in
               Indoor Radon Became an
                     Issue in 1984

   Mr. Watrus set off alarms at the Limmerick
    Nuclear Power Plant when entering.
   Stanley Watrus measured 2700 picocuries of
    radon per liter (pCi/L) of air in his
    Pennsylvania home.
   The Watrus case brought the indoor radon
    problem to the public attention and that of the
                      Radon Risk
                    in Perspective

 Comparative   Risk Assessments by EPA
  and its Science Advisory Board have
  consistently ranked Radon among the
  top four Environmental risks to the

 In 1998 Harvard Risk in Perspective, by
  John Graham, ranked Radon the #1 risk
  in the Home
         Home Safety Council Risks





 5,000                                  3,300
                                                 1,000      800
         Radon     Falls    Poisoning   Fires   Choking   Drowning
   How did radon originate in
 Glaciers
 Canada deposited
 uranium in the soil.

 Radon results from
 the uranium
                           Where does radon come from?
                           Naturally Occurring Uranium is
                                the Source of Radon

                            1600 YEARS

             4.5 billion

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                        Radon Entry

 Radon enters through any opening between
  the building and the soil.
 Air pressure differentials between the building
  and outside air.
 Common entry points are the foundation wall
  joint, crawlspace, and sump pits.
Stopping Radon at the Beginning

                Radon Resistant
                New Construction
                    What does the Construction
                    Literature Say About Radon?

   Since 1995, radon control methods have
    been part of the International Code
    Council, Inc. (ICCI) “One and Two Family
    Dwelling Code.”

   Does your local building code address
                       National Association of
                           Home Builders

   The National Association of Home Builders
    (NAHB) estimates that one in every six
    homes is built radon resistant in the United
    States every year, averaging about 200,000
    homes annually.
   In Zone One areas the NAHB estimates
    about one in every three homes are built with
    RRNC features.
                      Radon Resistant New
                     Construction is Effective

   According to the USEPA, Radon Resistant New
    Construction effectively reduces radon levels by an
    average of about 50% and, in most cases, to levels
    below the 4.0 pCi/L action level.
                     What do the
                   numbers mean?
From 1985 to 2003 approximately 770,000
  homes have been mitigated and 1,200,000
  new homes built radon resistant. USEPA
  estimates that at this rate, approximately
  650 lives will be saved annually.

   •   What are the benefits of using radon
       resistant new construction?
           •   Low – Cost
           •   Prevention of Liability
           •   Marketing Advantage
           •   Aesthetics
           •   Changing Building Codes
           •   & fewer callbacks for moisture related
           *Radon-resistant Construction for Builders, Georgia Dept. of Natural Resources   .
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                   Cost Comparison

                             Mitigate Existing
           New Home                Home
            Construction      $800 - $2500
           $350 - $500           per-home
            per-home            (Labor and
             (Labor and           materials)

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                        Who can install a passive
                        radon reduction system?

   The builder or contractor can install the passive system.
    Activation through the adding of a fan requires a radon
    mitigator licensed with the Illinois Emergency
    Management Agency.
Passive New Construction

    Consists of a vent pipe for a
     sub-slab depressurization

    Relies only on convective flow
     of air upward in the vent pipe

    May, or may not, reduce
     indoor radon below 4 pCi/L
                      Skeletal New Construction

   Not Recommended - does not
    usually effectively reduce radon.

   May require installation of a vent
    fan after construction.

   May consist of multiple vent
    pipes of vertical and angled runs
    that may be joined to a single
    termination above the roof or
    may terminate separately above
    the roof.
Here is an overview of some of the techniques:*
      Gas Permeable Layer
       This layer is placed beneath the slab or flooring system
       to allow the soil gas to move freely underneath the
       house. In many cases, the material used is a 4-inch
       layer of clean gravel.

      Plastic Sheeting
       Plastic sheeting is placed on top of the gas permeable
       layer and under the slab to help prevent the soil gas
       from entering the home. In crawlspaces, the sheeting is
       placed over the crawlspace floor.

      Sealing and Caulking
       All openings in the concrete foundation floor are sealed
       to reduce soil gas entry into the home.

      Vent Pipe
       A 3- or 4-inch gas-tight or PVC pipe (commonly used for
       plumbing) runs from the gas permeable layer through
       the house to the roof to safely vent radon and other soil
       gases above the house.

      Junction Box
       An electrical junction box is installed in case an electric
       venting fan is needed later.
      *http://www.epa.gov/iaq/radon/construc.html
                     Passive System Components

  • An example of the 6 Mil
      Polyethylene Sheeting

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                      Passive System Components

  • Seal and Caulk All
      Openings in the
      Foundation Floor.

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                            Ensure Cost Savings to
                           Homeowner at Activation

      Allow space for future fan installation in attic or
       outside habitable space.

      On each floor and in the attic label the radon vent

                  Radon Reduction System

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                           Vent Stack Discharge Point

          Above the highest eave (at least 12 inches above
           the roof) and as close to the roof ridge line as

          10 feet from any window, door or other opening
           (into the building) that is less than 2 feet below the
           exhaust point.

          10 feet or more from any opening into an adjacent

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           Typical Fan Designs

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                             Radon Vent Fan
   Radon vent fans shall be installed:
       In attics.
       Garages that are not beneath a heated or cooled space.
       On the exterior of the building.
                    Where Radon Vent Fans Shall
                          Not Be Placed
   Below ground.
   In heated or cooled space of a building.
   In a basement, crawlspace, or other interior location directly
    beneath the conditioned spaces of a building.
Radon Mitigation System Checklist

             Available from IEMA

             The checklist is a tool for
              inspecting both active and
              passive radon mitigation
                       Radon Systems Must Be
                           Able to Drain

    All radon piping must be sloped to allow drainage.

    Water in radon system is primarily from condensation
     inside piping.

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                      Overall Effectiveness of Passive

Radon Resistant New Construction (RRNC) methods were used
voluntarily by 11 contractors in the city of East Moline & were effective
lowering indoor radon levels below levels that would have been present
had the same house been built without the system.

41% of the homes tested in East Moline (19/46) had levels > 4.0 pico-
curies per liter (pCi/L) when the passive system was non-operational.
The only way to see if the passive system is effective is to…..Test!

LaFollette, S., & Dickey, T. Air & Waste Management Assoc. §1:102-
108, Volume 51, January 2001.
                  Upgrading is Easy

   If, after construction is completed, radon
    levels are at or above 4.0 pCi/L, contact a
    Licensed Mitigator and simply activate the

   Homes with a passive system can be
    upgraded to an active system with the
    simple installation of an in-line fan.
                Corrective Actions

   Who can install the fan to make the passive system

   Only a licensed professional mitigator with a license from
    the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (or the
    resident of the home).
              Interested in being a licensed
                 mitigation professional?

Take the state approved qualification course
  and pass the state licensing exam.

   Complete a Quality Assurance Plan and a
    Worker Protection Plan
                 Can Radon Mitigation System Cause
                         a Water Problem?

   A properly installed radon mitigation system should
   not cause a water problem nor will it typically fix a
   wet basement.

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                            Requirements of Post
                             Mitigation Testing

      Must wait 24 hours after the mitigation installation before
       starting the post mitigation test.

      A short term test is placed in same location as first test.

      Must be tested in accordance with approved protocol.

      Must test system within 30 days.

      Recommend re-testing every 2 years.

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                    More Information

     Cindy Ladage       (217) 785-9889

     Patrick Daniels     (217) 782-1325

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