How to Limit Home Radon Exposure

Three Parts:Installing Mitigation Systems in Your HouseLimiting Radon with Water TreatmentTesting Your Home for Radon

Are you worried about radon? Radon is a gas that occurs naturally in some places from the breakdown of radioactive material in the soil, rocks, and water. It is colorless and odorless, can collect in your home’s air and water, and leads over time to things like lung cancer. However, there are things you can do to limit your exposure, including testing your home, using mitigation systems, and treating your water supply.

Part 1
Installing Mitigation Systems in Your House

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    Find a qualified contractor. Limiting radon in your home will take someone with training and knowledge in mitigation techniques. Ideally, look for a contractor certified by the National Radon Proficiency Program (NRPP) or the National Radon Safety Board (NRSB). These are the only two national organizations in the US that certify radon professionals.[1]
    • The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) suggests that people hire contractors who certified nationally or on the state level.
    • Call the NRPP or NRSB to see about certified providers in your area. Many states also have licenses or certification programs, so try those organizations as well to see if contractors are available.
    • When choosing a contractor, be sure to ask for references, proof of credentials and insurance, and a clear legal contract.
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    Install suction for grade-on-slab homes and those with basements. Homes that have basements or that use grade-on-slab construction, i.e. concrete poured at ground level, will need suction devices to limit radon from the soil. There are a few different kinds of soil suction systems, including sub-slab suction, drain tile suction, sump hole suction, and block wall suction. These systems will cost between $800 to $2,500 to install with a contractor, but the average is around $1,200.[2][3]
    • Sub-slab suction is the most common system. This is when pipes are inserted through your home’s foundation slab into the soil underneath. The radon is then passively or actively (with a fan) moved through the pipes and into the atmosphere.
    • Drain tiles placed in the ground around the foundation will direct radon-containing water away from your house, as well.
    • Block wall suction is for basements with hollow, cinderblock walls. This technique involves removing radon from the interior of the blocks, where it gets trapped.
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    Vent homes with crawlspaces. Consider having the contractor install a ventilation system if your home has a crawlspace underneath. Crawlspace ventilation can reduce levels of radon in your home by lowering the intake of radon through the soil and by “diluting” the amount beneath your home.[4][5]
    • You can do this either through natural ventilation or a forced-air system. In the first case, the contractor will need to open vents or install new ones to move air from the crawlspace outside. The air should circulate naturally.
    • A forced air system also uses vents but with the addition of a fan. The fan forces air out and pulls outdoor air inside, for a continual exchange.
    • Keep in mind that a forced air system will cost more. Fans can range anywhere from $25 to as much as $1,000.
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    Discuss other mitigation options. There are some other, smaller techniques that you can use to limit radon in your home. Talk to your contractor to see whether they will work for you. Most of these additional options will not solve the problem alone, but are useful when combined with other mitigation systems.[6][7]
    • Seal up any cracks in your home’s foundations. Sealing prevents radon from leaking into your home while limiting the loss of conditioned air – it therefore makes your other mitigation measures more efficient. Sealing is also fairly inexpensive and easy to do.
    • Pressurize your home. Consider installing a fan to blow air into the home from upstairs or outdoors and to maintain enough pressure indoors to keep the radon out.
    • Open more natural vents, including windows, doors, and vents on lower floors. The inflow of outside air will dilute the amount of radon inside.

Part 2
Limiting Radon with Water Treatment

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    Talk to a water treatment specialist. Radon in water poses a risk because the gas can enter the air, especially through the shower, and over time can raise your risk for lung cancer. Ingesting water with radon also raises your risk for cancers of internal organs like the stomach. Call water treatment services in your area to find out whether they sell treatment systems designed for radon removal.[8]
    • Look for water treatment services in the phone book or online. You can also call the EPA’s Drinking Water Hotline at 1-800-426-4791 or inquire at your state’s radon office.
    • Be sure to ask any treatment providers whether they not only install but also maintain radon systems. Certain systems need regular servicing or they will not work properly.
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    Buy a granular activated carbon (GAC) filter. If your water has tested positive for radon, you can treat it effectively with a point-of-entry system like a GAC filter. This means that radon will be removed from the water before it enters your home’s distribution system. GAC filters are one of the most common kinds of point-of-entry systems.[9][10][11]
    • A GAC filter collects 95% of radiation by absorbing it in a carbon filter. It has a fairly low up-front cost, but requires you to remove, replace, and safely dispose of the carbon filters.
    • You may need help disposing of used GAC filters if the radiation levels are too high. Make sure, again, to talk to your treatment specialists to see if they offer disposal services.
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    Install an aeration system. The other point-of-entry option for radon in water is an aeration treatment system. In this technique, an air diffuser is put onto a water storage tank and blows air up through the water. As the air rises, it strips radon from the water and is then vented out of the house through pipes above your roof line.[12]
    • Expect to pay more upfront for aeration. You’ll have to install a storage tank and air diffuser, hook it to your home’s water system, and add proper ventilation for disposal of the tainted air.
    • Aeration is more costly but also more effective. A system can get rid of as much as 99% of radon from your water. There are also no regular disposal costs, as with a GAC filter.

Part 3
Testing Your Home for Radon

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    Hire a radon measurement professional. If you are concerned about radon in your home and want to get tested, think about hiring a professional. Look for people who are certified to measure levels of radon in the air and water, starting with your national and state radon offices.[13][14]
    • In the US, try the NRPP or NRSB and state radon organizations to find out about licensed contractors and services in your area. Make sure that any professional is accredited or licensed.
    • Also, consider getting tested between the months of September and April. This is when your windows are usually closed – you’ll get a more accurate measurement that way.
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    Buy a do-it-yourself testing kit. You can also do the testing yourself. A home radon test kit will cost you between $30 and $60 at many hardware stores. Alternatively, try ordering one online or by phone. Radon test kits usually come in two forms: short-term and long-term.[15][16][17]
    • Short-term kits measure your home’s air for between 2 to 90 days. Test the air in the lowest area of the home where you spend time.
    • Some governments suggest using a “long-term” test kit, however, which will measure the radon in your air for a minimum of three months before going to a lab for analysis. Long-term kits will give a more accurate reading.
    • Apart from stores or online, you can order a testing kit from the National Radon Hotline at 1-800-767-7236 or from the National Radon Program Services at Kansas State University – the latter offers discounted kits for sale online or by phone.
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    Test your water for radon, too. Radon can come in part from your water and get into the air through things like your shower. Not all water contains radon, though, and water from wells is much more likely to have it than water from surface sources like rivers and lakes. Make sure to get the water tested if your air tests positive, but especially if your water also comes from the ground.[18]
    • If your water comes from a public source, call the municipality to find out whether it is from a surface (lake, river, reservoir) or ground source. Most radon diffuses into the air with surface sources. If you are using ground water, ask the provider if they’ve tested for radon.
    • If you use a private well, call the EPA’s Safe Drinking Water Hotline at 1-800-426-4791. They will be able to direct you to your state’s laboratory certification office, which can connect you to a water tester.

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