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Is radon only in basements?

By Home, Measurement No Comments

Radon is completely odorless as well as being invisible. Because it is often found unexpectedly in basements, some people mistakenly believe that it only occurs in basements. This is a dangerous assumption that may damage your ability to protect your home if you are not careful.

Most commonly homes with basements are suspect for having higher radon levels. The fact that porous foundation walls allow radon gas to enter a home is no secret and with most basements containing a sump well, there are many access points from which radon can enter a home.

However, homes above a crawl space suffer the same fate. Whether your crawl space is a dirt crawl (unfinished), poured concrete (finished), or even lined with a protective barrier, radon can still enter your home. Additionally, with its closer proximity to the ground, the living areas of the home may be more susceptible to radon as it does not have the same amount of time to decay in a full basement prior to entering living areas.

Not to be forgotten, homes built on a slab are also at risk for high radon levels. As a matter of fact, homes built on a slab to not have the ‘buffer’ of a basement or crawl space to absorb and dissipate radon gas before it enters the living area of a home.

There is truly no single style of home that is not prone to radon gas and potentially highly dangerous levels.

What about new homes built with radon-resistant construction techniques?

As early as 1990 some homes have been built using radon-resistant materials and with pre-piped radon mitigation systems installed. Clean gravel “airflow layers”, vapor barriers, additional polyurethane caulking, and vent pipes are all widely used. However, as the name states, these techniques are radon ‘“resistant” and cannot fully remove the risk of a high radon level. Testing should still be performed to determine a homes radon level and in instances when a high radon level is present, some of the installed vent pipes used for passive radon reduction can easily be converted to an active system by a professional radon mitigation specialist.

Other sources of radon

If you have certain building materials in your home, then you need to worry about radon sources other than just below your home. In general, naturally occurring stone, rock and brick building materials always contain some Uranium that decays into Radon… These types of stone typically used for countertops and/or fireplace mantels may be a potential source of radon in your home. In most cases, the amount of radon immediate here is not a huge problem, but you need to know for sure.

In general, detection is your number one weapon against radon exposure. Make sure that you test your home regularly. This is the only ways that you will be able to protect yourself against the detrimental effects of radon in your home.

More informations about radon here.

Is radon only in basements

The world’s most accurate radon detector for short-term measurement turns 20

By Home, Measurement No Comments

Radonova has been supplying Rapidos radon detectors for 20 years. In that time, over 250,000 units have been manufactured which have mainly been used for short-term measurements (between seven to ten days). This type of measurement gives a good indication of radon levels that may exist in the home or workplace. Normally, Rapidos detectors are used when you do not have enough time to take a long-term measurement and obtain an annual average – which requires a measurement period of at least three months in most countries.

High accuracy when compared to market alternatives

There are many types of radon detectors for short-term measurement. However, none are as reliable as Rapidos.

“Rapidos continues to be unique, not least because of its large chamber volume for detection and the clean, transparent plastic film that is placed inside the detector. After 20 years of use by customers from all over the world, we know that Rapidos remains the leading and most popular detector for short-term radon measurement”, says Karl Nilsson, CEO of Radonova Laboratories.

Rapidos consists of a plastic lid and bottom with a gap that lets in the air which is measured. Radioactive alpha particles arising from the decomposition of radon gas leave traces in the transparent plastic film made by C39. In order to obtain a precise measurement, it is crucial that you obtain sufficient traces of the film which can then be analysed, especially in view of the short measurement time. The large measurement chamber enhances the detection speed to provide an improved statistic for short-term measurement.

“Many suppliers use the same type of detector for both long and short-term measurement, which in all honesty does not provide sufficient accuracy. Detectors like Rapidos have too small a measurement volume for long-term measurement requirements”, continues Karl Nilsson.

Ideal to use when selling or buying a house

Rapidos is mainly used in relation to the sale or purchase of a property. In this scenario, you often don´t have time to wait for a long-term radon measurement. However, by using Rapidos you still get a very good indication of radon levels. The analyse provided is usually adequate enough to decide whether a radon-lowering measure is required. In contrast to long-term measurement (which is conducted to obtain an annual average value), short-term measurements can be done all year round. In many countries, long-term measurements are only conducted when the heating is on at home or in the workplace, which is normally between October and April.

Why measure radon?

Radon is a radioactive gas that leaks from the ground and in some cases comes from building materials. Depending on the ground beneath the house and the type of building construction, harmful high concentrations of radon can occur. Second to smoking, it is the cause of most lung cancer cases in the world.

Globally, an estimated 230 000 people are affected each year by lung cancer as a result of long-term exposure to radon. Lung cancer is one of the cancers that has the highest mortality, with only 20 percent of those affected surviving five years after the initial diagnosis. Therefore, it is essential to monitor for radon to ensure that it does not exceed the applicable national limit values. Note, limit values vary from country to country. However, if you order a radon measurement from Radonova it is straightforward to check which limit value applies to your country.

Short-term measurement

Radon detector or digital radon sensor – which one to choose?

By Home No Comments

The market offers a variety of different radon detectors and digital radon sensors. As an individual, it can be difficult to know which one is the most appropriate for measuring radon in a house. To make things easier, we have put together a guide to better facilitate the choice of either a radon detector or digital radon sensor.

In short, it really depends on what you’re trying to achieve and measure. However, it is important to first understand how dangerous radon can be.

How can radon pose a health risk?

Radon is a radioactive gas that leaks from the ground and in some cases comes from building materials. Depending on the ground beneath the house and the type of building construction, harmful high concentrations of radon can exist.

Radon is the most common cause of lung cancer in humans after smoking. As with smoking, it is the long-term effect that can lead to cancer, the risk increases if you are exposed to high levels of radon for several years. However, staying in an indoor environment with an elevated radon content for a short time is not dangerous. To truly understand the risks in your own home, it is important to take a radon measurement over a prolonged period. This avoids getting a misleading value; radon content can vary enormously over 24 hours and can also be affected by weather conditions.

Due to the health risks and the importance of reliable radon measurements, radiation safety authorities around the world recommend that an annual average level of radon is measured. By defining an annual average value, you get the most accurate assessment of radon levels and possible health risks. The recommended maximum levels ​​found in different countries are also expressed in annual averages.

When should I use radon detectors?

If you have never conducted a radon measurement in your home and want to know what risk you may be exposed to, radon detectors are a better option than digital radon sensors. Detectors come with easy to follow instructions and should be placed in several rooms around the home. After 2-3 months, you then send the radon detectors to a laboratory for analysis.

Some of the advantages of using radon detectors:

– You get the radon content of your house expressed in an annual average that best reflects potential health risks.

– To meet national requirements place several radon detectors around the house. It is an inexpensive, robust, easy and proven method for assessing radon exposure risk.

– By using an accredited laboratory, you will receive an accurate and reliable radon content level analysis.

– Some countries offer grants to asses radon related issues. In these cases the radon content measurement is only approved if it is expressed in an annual average.

However, in order to obtain an annual average value, you do not need to conduct a radon analysis across the whole year. It usually takes 2-3 months depending on which country you measure in and what rules need to be abided by. If you choose an accredited measuring laboratory you will receive accurate and easy to follow instructions to enable you to correctly choose the right number of radon detectors for your property.

When measuring with a radon detector, it is important to understand that you cannot directly (on site) see what radon levels you have in the house. It is only the measuring laboratory that can analyze the detector – subsequently you then receive a measurement expressed in an annual average which highlights the radon level in your house.

When should I use a digital radon sensor?

Digital radon sensors are primarily used to measure the effect of a radon measure i.e. when you are proactively looking to lower radon levels. Why? Radon sensors allow the user to see how radon levels vary from hour to hour. This can be really useful if, for example, a radon suction has been installed to lower the radon content in a house.

In principle, you can also measure the annual mean with a digital radon sensor, but industry wide this is not recommended. Certainly, there are radon sensors that express the average radon content over a longer period of time. However, there are no digital radon detectors for individuals that are accredited or approved for radon measurement. Using digital radon sensors to measure the annual average is also significantly more expensive than using radon detectors because measuring radon content in one room is usually insufficient.

In most circumstances, in order to obtain a correct value, radon levels are measured in several rooms. This means that you need a number of radon sensors, which in turn can entail large costs – especially if you compare the cost of measuring an annual average with radon detectors.

In conclusion, radon detectors are the most appropriate tool for measuring the risk of radon exposure in houses.

Radon detector or digital radon sensor – which one to choose?

Short-term measurement of radon: the right choice when selling a house

By Home No Comments

Radon is an issue that frequently crops up in connection with the sale of a house. Sometimes, time pressures are a factor and quick decisions are needed. Therefore up-to-date and reliable measurement of radon levels in the home is often overlooked. One solution in these cases may be short-term measurement. Correctly performed short-term measurement provides both buyer and seller with an indication of the radon level and data that can simplify the process going forward.

The world’s most accurate short-term measurement

In order to meet demand for reliable measurements, Radonova has developed the world’s most accurate radon detector for short-term measurement – Rapidos. Rapidos is currently used the world over and often in connection with the sale of houses. So what makes Rapidos better than other radon detectors?

The most important features that distinguish Rapidos from other detectors are:

  • Option to measure radon levels as low as 50 Bq/m³
  • Extremely reliable result compared with other solutions for short-term measurement
  • Safe, date-marked vacuum packs for delivery of the radon detectors
  • The market’s fastest analysis and response times

Rapidos can measure radon with a relatively high degree of reliability, as the detector’s measurement volume is two to three times greater than that of other brands. The measurement volume is the amount of air contained in the detector’s chamber (where the actual measurement process takes place). A larger volume enables you to measure more alpha particles, which form when radon decays. This in turn provides broader and better data for the actual analysis.

High quality across the board

The ability to perform very precise short-term measurement is also down to the uniquely clean film element that is used during manufacture of the radon detectors. In order to achieve an accurate analysis, it is important that as few tracks as possible are made during the manufacturing and packaging process (i.e. before measurement begins). These tracks are called background tracks. Radonova’s closely monitored manufacturing process is performed in a clean environment with full traceability to keep the number of background tracks to a minimum. In order to avoid exposing the radon detectors to radon during transport, all detectors are also packaged in a vacuum. This makes it easy to see whether a pack is leaking.

Radonova regularly participates in various external comparative tests to guarantee consistently high product quality. Radonova’s radon measurements are also audited annually by a third-party auditor that issues certification in accordance with ISO 17025, ISO 9001 and ISO 14001.
Radonova’s short-term measurements also surpass other solutions by offering the market’s shortest delivery and analysis times. This is particularly important when selling a house, which often involves time pressure.

Radon in brief

Radon is an invisible gas that comes from the ground and is present in the air we breathe. It decays into radon progeny, which are radioactive metal atoms. These get trapped in our airways and emit radiation. In this way, high levels of radon can cause lung cancer.

Elevated radon levels are the biggest carcinogenic health risk you can be exposed to as far as indoor air is concerned. Globally around 230,000 people develop lung cancer every year because of elevated radon levels.

House – Why does radon exist in homes and where does radon come from?

By Home No Comments

When you own a house or intend to buy a house, you often hear talk about radon values and the fact that you need to check them for health reasons. But where does radon come from?

Radon is a gas that occurs naturally in soil and in bedrock. It is a so-called “inert” gas and is an element with the chemical symbol Rn and atomic number 86 in the periodic table. The property that makes radon damaging to health is the fact that it is a radioactive substance. Radioactivity means that radon emits radiation, so-called “ionising” radiation which affects biological systems. The element radon is part of the decay chain, which includes the elements uranium and radium (which are also radioactive).
Ionising radiation can damage cells and cause cell death and can destroy DNA molecules in the body. Which can lead to mutations and therefore to cancer. Lung cancer in particular is a form of cancer that can be caused by radon radiation.

Where does radon in a house come from?

Radon originally comes from uranium and radium, which occur naturally in bedrock. If a building is constructed on such land, and particularly if the building also has a basement, there can be a problem with radon. The parts of the building that come into contact with the ground can let in radon from the surroundings if they are not sealed.

Investigation and measurement

It is easy to measure and investigate radon in a home. A radon laboratory will help by sending out measurement boxes for radon. You simply hang these from the ceiling in the rooms you want to measure radon in. The measurement must go on for a few months. Then the radon boxes are sent in to the laboratory for analysis and you get a radon value for each room. The limit value for radon is currently 300 Bq/m3 in dwellings. If it is higher than that, you should carry out some form of radon degasification.

house

Important to measure radon regardless of where you live

By Home, Multi occupancy building No Comments

In the UK, there are radon maps that show which areas are more exposed to radon and which are less exposed. Consequently, many people do not measure radon because they think they live in a radon-free area, but that is wrong. Almost all of UK is exposed to radon and considerable local differences can exist within the residential areas. That is confirmed by studies carried out by Radonova in which the results from the same residential area were examined. That is why it is always important to measure radon and not rely on radon maps.

Why are there such large local differences in radon content?

It is due to variations in radon in the ground and how buildings are constructed. Also what maintenance they have had and what rebuilding has taken place.

The levels of radon in the ground depend on factors such as the extent to which the elements uranium and radium are present in our rock types and therefore also our soil types. Radon gas is formed from these elements and is transported through the soil layer with the aid of air and ground water. This means, for example, that there is a greater risk of radon in buildings constructed on sand and gravel. These highly porous soil types contain large amounts of air that can easily transport radon up into buildings.

Important – Where does radon leak into houses?

Radon from the ground leaks into houses and apartment blocks in many different ways. Unsealed penetrations in the form of incoming electricity and water supplies enable radon to leak into the building. A concrete pad with cracks can also allow radon to leak in.

These causes mean that there can be considerable local variations in the radon content in residential areas. It is therefore always important to measure the radon content in indoor air, regardless of where you live and how you live – in a house or in an apartment building.

important

How do you measure radon?

By Home, Multi occupancy building No Comments

Radon is a so-called “inert” gas that is also radioactive. It emits ionising radiation. If people suffer excessive exposure to this radiation in their workplace or at home, it can lead to cell damage and therefore to cancer. Radon is responsible for up to 14% of all cases of lung cancer in the world. So measurements are crucial.

Radon comes from the ground

Radon occurs naturally in the ground since it comes from uranium that decays. Buildings that have basements and that are otherwise in direct contact with the ground are most affected by radon.

You use detectors to measure radon

Radon is normally measured using what is referred to as “radon detectors”. These are small plastics inside holders that you place around the home or in the workplace for a certain period of time. This is to see the specific radon value in the specific rooms where the measurement is being carried out.

This means that it is best to place radon detectors in rooms where you spend a lot of time such as bedrooms and living rooms. In rooms in which you or the people around you spend the most time, it may be worth placing two detectors in different parts of the room to obtain the most accurate measurement possible.

Short or long-term measurements

There are two different types of detectors that you can use for radon measurement. The first of these is the detector that carries out a long-term measurement that most people are familiar with. A so-called “long-term measurement” enables you to obtain an average annual value for radon levels in indoor air. It is recommended to carry out long-term measurements during the winter months. This is because people do not ventilate as frequently as in summer, which concentrates the radon and, in turn, provides an optimum measurement. Long-term measurements take approximately two to three months and all you need to do is position the detectors. Then leave them there for the full period before sending them back.

For people who do not have the time required to carry out long-term measurements, there are also detectors that provide a quick measurement. These do not show the average amount of radon in a year, but can provide a quick indication of the property’s approximate exposure to radon. They are suitable for people who want to buy a house or another property. Quick measurements take up to 10 twenty-four hour periods and can be carried out at any time of year.

After the measurement

When the period of time for the selected detector has ended, you simply send them in. You then receive a full report on the results. This usually takes only one week to send out.

measurements

Why is radon dangerous?

By Home, Multi occupancy building No Comments
dangerous

Radon measurement is often carried out when buying houses and properties. But what is radon and why do you need to measure it and why is it dangerous?

Radon is dangerous

Radon is an element with atomic number 86 and chemical symbol Rn. It is a so-called “inert” gas, which means that the element radon does not readily react with other substances. However, radon gas is radioactive and decays naturally. When the radon decays, it emits ionising radiation containing alpha particles.

Ionising radiation

Ionisation removes electrons from an atom by means of radiation. Atoms, which were previously in equilibrium, then become charged ions which are able to react with other atoms or ions. Such reactions can damage and/or alter a DNA molecule and cause mutations or cancer or can kill cells. For that reason, ionising radiation, and therefore radon, is dangerous to humans.

Why are you exposed to radon in a building?

Radon in its normal form exists as a gas. You’d, therefore, presume that airing the building would get the radon out. You can fix some types of radon problem through simple ventilation, but this is not the best solution in many other cases. Unfortunately, the gas fills up constantly if the sourrrounding soil of the  building has a radon content that refills the indoor air.

Radon belongs to one of the natural decay chains, i.e. other radioactive substances decay and form new substances. Uranium and radium, two radioactive elements that exist in certain types of bedrock, are present earlier in this chain. In areas with high uranium levels or radium-rich ground, the risk of so-called “soil radon” will be higher. Radon is particularly common in buildings with basements because the walls are more exposed to the surrounding ground.

Long-term effects and radiation doses

Elevated radon levels in a building can cause an increased risk of cancer, particularly lung cancer. When you live and spend a lot of time in the building, radon can gradually cause harm.  Currently, the recommended radon level is less than 300 Bq m-3 in rooms in which you spend a lot of time (WHO recommends no more than 100 Bq m-3). If the value is higher, you should take action to deal with the radon problem.

Radon Entry Points – Basement

By Home, Measurement No Comments
basement
Below Grade Windows
Sump Pump
Cracks in Foundation Walls
Footing
Cracks in Concrete Slab
Floor Drains
Support Posts

Many homes have basement areas. Whether finished or not there is always a potential for radon to enter your home through the basement. Not all homes will have every radon entry point shown, but the image shows the most common ones. Any one of these entry points could contribute to a high radon gas level in the home.

Testing for radon is the only  way to know if your home has high levels of dangerous radon gas, a class A carcinogen that causes lung cancer.

Test Your Home Today!

Questions and answers about radon in water

By Home, Multi occupancy building No Comments

SSM (The Swedish Radiation Safety Authority) has recently published the National Radon Action Plan. Radon in drinking water has been highlighted as one of the risks. As the world’s leading radon laboratory, Radonova Laboratories AB gets a lot of questions about water safety. Below you can find some answers to the most common inquiries we receive on this subject.

Can we find radon in drinking water?

Radon in drinking water can occur primarily in water from wells bored down through solid rock. In Sweden, wells supply water to approximately 800,000 people. More than 6% of these wells are estimated to have such high levels of radon as to be hazardous to health. This means that radon concentrations in these waters may exceed the limit of 1000 Bq l-1, while 60% of wells are in the range of 100-1000 Bq l-1. There is also a risk of elevated radon levels in water wells bored down through soil layers. Data from the SGU (Swedish Geological Survey)shows that 1.6% of these wells are above 1000 Bq l-1and 30% in the range 100-1000 Bq l-1.

How dangerous is radon in water?

Radon in water can be harmful to health in two ways. Firstly, by radon adsorption during and after water intake and second, by radon release from water into indoor air that we breath. Radon from the air is significantly more dangerous because our lungs are more sensitive to radon compared to the stomach. As we now know, radon breaks down over time into radioactive isotopes we call ‘daughters’ with the emission of alpha particles causing lung tissue damage. Thus, high levels of radon can lead to lung cancer. Radon causes about 1100 lung cancer cases per year in the UK according to PHE (Public Health England).

How can you measure radon in drinking water?

It is easy to measure radon in water. After ordering a measurement pack from our website, we will send a kit containing a special bottle with clear instructions on how to take the water sample. Once you have filled the bottle with water, send it back to us. The analysis results will be obtained within one week. All Radonova’s measurement methods are accredited by SWEDAC, which means that you can rely on our results.