B Radon testing my first basement (already has a mitigation system)

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CPW

23
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Summary
Any PF members with experience in radon testing their house?
Hi PF:

The house my wife and I purchased recently is our first one with a basement and it already has a radon mitigation system installed. Unfinished basement.

I've sent my short-term test to the lab and I have a long-term test that I intend to start this week.

Do any PF members have any experience or advice on performing this test and interpreting the results?
Should I test the main living space of the house and not just the basement?

Since radon is heavier than air, should the area underneath the vent pipe be an area in the yard to avoid sitting?
 

russ_watters

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Summary: Any PF members with experience in radon testing their house?
I'm a homeowner in a radon area, and took a continuing education course in it...
Do any PF members have any experience or advice on performing this test and interpreting the results?
Just follow the directions/guidance you get back.
Should I test the main living space of the house and not just the basement?
Radon is a problem in the basement because of extreme stagnation of air. Usually a main floor isn't going to have this problem. Plus the radon comes from the ground, so the concentration will pretty much always be worse in the basement.
Since radon is heavier than air, should the area underneath the vent pipe be an area in the yard to avoid sitting?
The vent should be up high, but even still, there will be substantial dilution with outside air not far from the vent. So it should not be a concern.
 

CPW

23
12
Thank you Russ.

One more question comes to mind:
In a few years, when we finish the basement, there will be another HVAC system for the basement level, which will circulate the air. Will that reduce radon levels too?
 

russ_watters

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Thank you Russ.

One more question comes to mind:
In a few years, when we finish the basement, there will be another HVAC system for the basement level, which will circulate the air. Will that reduce radon levels too?
Yore welcome.

Yes, that should reduce radon levels; more due to the finishing of the basement than the HVAC; if you seal the floor it will help stop radon from percolating up. Either way, abatement systems tend to be very effective if properly implemented.

How old is the home?
 

CPW

23
12
Hi Russ.

We are the second owners of this nice house, built in 2016. The builder installed the radon mitigation system, and it is working (at least the blue U-shaped manometer shows the fan is working). I'll find out the radon levels with both a short-term test and a long-term test from AccuStar labs this year.

I'm now relaxing much better after my conversation with you. I'm glad you took the continuing education course on this topic and shared what you learned.

I understand alpha radiation is capable of DNA double-strand breaks, and having an alpha emitter inside your body is therefore dangerous. I've read that alpha emitters that are outside your body are not particularly dangerous and shielding can be thin, even a piece of paper or the dead layer of your skin. Just don't get the alpha emitter inside your lung tissue.

Speaking of you, I also checked out your astrophotos on your website, and I'm impressed. I think I will show your photos to my kids (elementary aged), as the science topic in the homeschool co-op this year is astronomy. I figure I can use my telescope to show the same targets, and then use your website to show what a higher powered telescope would show.

Thank you.
 
1,489
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advice on ... interpreting the results?
Recognize that county/state guidelines will be based on the linear-no threshold (LNT) simplification. This assumes that, for example, halving the exposure halves the risk. Thus the LNT approach allows data from very high exposures to be used to extrapolate the risk from very low exposure. The "no threshold" part means that the approach assumes that even tiny exposure carries some (tiny) risk.

For an alternative perspective, google "radon and hormesis" - this is one of those things where anyone interested can read the studies and make up their own mind.
 

CPW

23
12
In case anyone on this thread is interested, I received the results of the short-term radon test: 3.0 pCi/L.
I'm relieved that it is less than 4.0 since my wife and I went forward with this home purchase without getting a radon test first. As stated above, the home already has a radon mitigation system installed, and I'm leaving it running.

Curious now if I were to repeat the test without the radon mitigation fan turned on, what the results might be.

I plan to initiate the long-term radon test this weekend. (I like to measure).

Related to the LNT theory, isn't that theory somewhat less popular for today's scientists? The current point/counterpoint in Medical Physics Journal stated that.
 

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