Can Radon Levels Fluctuate Inside A NJ House?

Do Radon Levels Fluctuate Inside A Typical NJ Home? | Radon Inspector Brick NJ

January 15, 2023

As part of a home inspection done on a home in Red Bank, NJ, Regal Home Inspections, LLC performed a radon test. This occurred about 4 years ago. Following the protocols for the placement of the radon test, it was conducted over a 2, 3 or 4 day period. I don’t recall the exact interval but I know, 100%, that it was done following the testing requirements. Those requirements have a minimum exposure time of 48 hours and as many as 144 hours (e.g. the equivalent of 6 full days). The test came back below the NJ DEP’s, “Action level” of 4.0 pico Curries per liter of air (pCI/L) so there was no further action that needed to be taken. Case closed. A couple of years later I received a call from the young lady that hired us for the Red Bank inspection and radon test because they had decided to sell that home and when the new buyer did their radon test it came back ABOVE 4.0. She asked can that happen and I said, “Yes” it’s possible. That radon levels can fluctuate inside a NJ home.

In 2022, we did another home inspection including a radon test and this time, the test we did in association with the home inspection came back ABOVE 4.0pCi/L. The seller disagreed, hired someone else to do a test and the second test came back below 4.0.  The seller complained but didn’t understand that radon levels can change. She complained that I had done something that made the test come back high.  In my response I stated that, “It’s not like I carry a spray can of radon with me!”  Additionally, I called one of the labs we’re affiliated with to ask a lab specialist if it’s possible for someone to fake a high result. His response was basically if the radon canister was opened, placed upside down on the basement’s concrete floor over a crack in the floor it’s nearly impossible to fake a high reading.  Now please remember that A) Radon is one of the elements on the Periodic Table of the Elements. Just as is Oxygen, Helium, Iron, Gold, Uranium, etc. B) It’s a radioactive element so unless one wants to expose themselves to Alpha radiation, Beta radiation or Gamma radiation, it’s not a good idea to mess around with this stuff.  It’s not like I can sprinkle some radon pixie dust on the test device to fake a high reading. C) The test device has to be placed following recognized protocols which we ALWAYS do.

Dealing With Radon In The NJ Home

Those are two anecdotes that give a little background. For over 31 years my family and I have lived in an area identified by the NJ DEP as a Tier 1 or “High radon potential” area.  During the 10 years or so that I’ve been a home inspector and certified to conduct radon testing I’ve tested my home (In the basement) about 5 times. The results have always been between 2.4 and 2.7pCI/L. Late, last winter (2022) I purchased an active radon monitor. It hangs on the wall like a thermostat. It has an app to by smartphone and constantly measured for radon. Here’s an actual photo of the monitor. It’s manufactu-red by a company called AirThings

Radon Levels | Radon Inspector Brick NJ
AirThings Monitor in my basement.
radon levels app | radon inspector brick nj
Screenshot of the app on my phone on 1/15/2023.

and I urge everyone to have one in your home. Their website is…  Airthings | check it out for the leading radon and indoor air quality monitors. Radon is the leading cause of lung cancer for non-smokers and 2nd only to cigarettes in causing lung cancer. Estimates are that 21,000 people die each year from radon caused lung cancer.

Again, the AirThings monitor was installed in the late winter of 2022. Everything looked good and the monitor read, as I was expecting, in the 2.5pCi/L range. Then Spring arrived. What do many of us do when spring arrives and the outside temperature rises to the mid 60s or 70s? We open all the windows as we did.  About 2 days later the AirThings app on my phone issued an alarm of sorts. MUCH to my surprise, it notified me that the radon level in my basement rose above 4.0!!!  The radon training requires that the test be done while maintaining, “Closed House Conditions.”  That means no open windows, refrain from using the fireplace, etc. Why, because as I experienced 1st hand, opening the windows and airing out the house can cause negative pressure inside the house. Naturally the house wants to equalize the pressure which, in my case, led to drawing radon into the basement.

To rectify the situation, I opened a couple of windows in my basement. Just a crack, mind you, but enough to get some fresh air in. That seemed to do the trick. The average radon level dropped to below 2.0 and often close to 1.0pCi/L.

Then…I turned on a portable heater in my basement. There is some heat from the forced hot air heating system but I was working on a project and painting some cabinet doors that had been removed and placed on a couple of tables in the basement. With the intention of increasing the temperature of the basement to aid in the paint drying a little quicker, I turned on a portable, electric heater and closed the windows.  It did the job I wanted it to do and the basement was nice and warm. However, warm air rises. I believe what happened is that as the warm air rose from the basement it, again, created negative pressure inside the basement. The way the house equalized the pressure was to draw air into the basement from the perimeter drain, etc. That caused the radon to spike to 3.0pCi/L. My project is done. The heater is off and the window is open again and the radon levels are going down.

Key Takeaways | Dealing With Radon In The NJ Home

So, what are the key take aways from this story?

  • Radon levels change. Do not ASSUME that if it tests low once that it will always be low.
  • Test regularly if that’s possible.
  • And test at different times of the year. Since your home’s conditions may change seasonally, test seasonally until you get a good indication how the radon potential changes year-round.

If you have any questions or would like to discuss your specific situation, please call either Brian or Frank at Regal Home Inspections, LLC. We’re both licensed by the NJ DEP to test for radon.  Regal Home Inspections, LLC is licensed to test for radon in single family homes, townhouses, duplex homes, single unit condominiums. Frank is also licensed to perform radon testing in commercial buildings, large and small and schools including preschools and child care centers. Commercial buildings, large and small and schools including preschools and child care centers require a great deal of pre-testing analysis, coordination and fact finding and then strict adherence to the rules set forth by the American Association of Radon Scientists and Technologists (AARST).

Call – Brian @ 732 740 8365 or Frank @ 908 902 2590.

Flippin’ Flippers

Flippin’ Flippers

by Frank J. Delle Donne  

October, 2022

Flipping houses has become an occupation for some. There are many homes that have been restored and updated by investors and DIYers. Many of them are very nice. However, as home inspectors, we’ve come across a number of flipped houses that fall under the category of what I call “Buyer Beware”. One such example was inspected October, 2022.

Due to some findings at this house, I was motivated to write this article as a word of caution to prospective buyers of flipped houses and a strong word of encouragement to hire a professional, licensed home inspector.  Your due diligence includes the inspection of the house including a termite inspection, sewer scope and tank sweep at least.  Most flipped houses are not occupied when you are thinking of buying it and have been empty for a while. Many flipped homes are old.

The standard, New Jersey home inspection covers structure, roof, electric, plumbing, etc. All very important things. I am also licensed to conduct a termite inspection and both inspectors here at Regal Home Inspections are also licensed to conduct radon tests.  Commencing in the very near future, one inspector at Regal Home Inspections, LLC will also be NJ licensed/certified to perform LEAD PAINT testing as well.

From what I’ve learned, anecdotally, many mortgage companies require a termite inspection. Even if yours does not, it’s very important that you hire a thorough inspector for Wood Destroying Insects (WDI).  WDI usually include termites, carpenter ants and carpenter bees. There are others but these are the three, most common.

While most houses should have a radon test, Monmouth County, for example, has a number of towns that are classified by the NJ DEP as, “High radon potential” areas. A few towns in Middlesex County and Somerset County. No towns in Ocean County are classified as high radon potential areas but we have seen homes with levels of radon that require mitigation. A radon test is important for a home you’re buying and periodic radon tests are important for occupied homes.

Back to the, “Flippin’ Flippers.”

The flip-house we recently did in Monmouth County had a nice looking kitchen and nicely renovated bathrooms and floors, etc. But what exists outside of the obvious is what matters. For this home, the major issues included:

Extensive, structural damage in the basement from termites.

Structural damage due to bad trade-practices in the crawl space and

Very poor implementation of aspects of the roof/plumbing vents and fan venting to the outside.

Termite Damage – Sometimes, termite damage is hard to find. It’s often limited and in a small area. Sometimes the indications are seen outside and sometimes inside. In this case, there was termite damage in a number of floor joists and in the subfloor. The termites rendered a number of joists as worthless for their intended purpose. Consequently, floors were no longer level and the structure of the house was compromised. Of course, following the NJ HI standards of practice, this is a material defect.  I’m going out on a limb and speculate that the flipper didn’t do their own inspection because this would have/should have been found.  In our report to the client we identified the problem, told them why it was important – damages the structure/reduces structural integrity – and advised them on what to do next. In this case it’s getting in an expert to provide a quote to repair and replace all the damaged wood so they can negotiate the purchase price with the flipper and receive some concession.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Structural Damage – While crawl spaces are not places I enjoy going, as I sometimes tell people, “Going into the crawl space was, “worth the price of admission”. In this same, flip-house there were two joists, under a bathroom no less, that had notches and split. These joists are holding up the weight of the tub and toilet and they are now capable of supporting a load that’s only a fraction of the joists’ intended strength.

Joist is poorly notched and now a split is forming from the weak point.
This notch significantly weakens the joist. Furthermore, both of these joists are below a bathroom. There appear to be some sagging in the joist at the notch. That’s understandable.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Roof issue. This is one for the Hall of Shame in my opinion. A sincere, “Thank you” to the flipper for making it so easy to identify.  From the outside of the house there were two elements of the roof that caught my attention. Now please note, the NJ home inspection laws require inspectors have an 11 foot ladder. Following the ladder’s safety instructions, that means I can’t get on a roof that more than, approximately 8 feet off the ground.  I also carry a 22 foot ladder but for this home, that too was not long enough. So, I use the telephoto lens of my camera and zoom into the roof as close as possible.

The first 2 photos below caused some concern when seen from the outside.

 

 

 

 

 

 

When I went into the attic, I could see what was actually done. To give you an idea, my first reaction was to use a descriptive word for the actions of the flipper such as, “egregious”. A quick Google search for the definition of egregious results in, “outstandingly bad; shocking.”  Yes, that’s how I felt. My inspection partner, Brian, told me to edit that out of the report so I did. I substituted it with, “poor craftsmanship” or something similar.  The conditions still are material defects. The conditions were these…

For the pipe boot seen from the outside (Right photo above), the craftsman, inappropriately left the plumbing vent short and inside the attic and stuffed a bathroom fan’s vent together at the bottom of the pipe boot. The boot is absolutely not intended for that configuration. Someone knew they were doing that work incorrectly and in a substandard manner but did it anyway.

 

 

 

 

 

For the first photo from the roof, someone just stuck the open end of a 4 inch diameter, flexible foil vent duct through the roof! That’s basically a 4 inch diameter hole in the roof.  For both of these things, what were they thinking?

Water will enter the vent and collect at the bottom of the duct inside the attic. The potential exists for either the duct to leak onto the ceiling above or the water accumulate so much that it starts draining out of the ceiling fan in the bathroom!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bottom line, these matters were found and properly reported back to the client. There were also other findings that require attention; Electrical, safety and maintenance items (Like clogged and loose gutters).

Bottom line, hire a capable inspection company. Although you have to pay for these things, get the inspection, oil tank sweep, sewer scope, termite inspection, radon test and even a lead paint inspection.  There are also other things that may or may not apply such as pool inspections, Level 2 chimney inspections, etc.  If you have any questions please call Brian Delle Donne at 732 740 8365 or Frank at 908 902 2590.

 

Customer Comments: Regal Home Inspections

Clients are now also leaving reviews at Google+.  Please visit REVIEWS .

If you are a client, please review our services.   Click Here  and then follow the on-screen instructions.

The reviews here are typical of the results of a home inspection conducted by Frank and Brian of Regal Home Inspections, LLC. These quotes are taken from a popular online service review website.

“We strive to ensure that every client is as happy with our work.” Frank

Thank you for considering Regal Home Inspections, LLC. Sincerely, Frank & Brian

Chris B.

December 2022

I’ve purchased over 10 homes and the Regal team (Frank and Brian) were by far best, most thorough, organized, professional, and responsive inspection team that I have utilized. Every step of the process (proposal for job, scheduling, execution, report-out, etc.) was clear, timely, and well-done. They completed an extremely comprehensive review of the home and had a detailed report with findings and recommendations back to me with 24 hours. I strongly recommend the Regal team for any/all of your inspection needs.

Erin D.

November 2022

I had a wonderful experience working with Frank and Brian. Both were punctual, professional, and extremely thorough. As a first time home owner, I wanted to be selective who I chose to complete my home inspection and I loved that they were familiar with the area. Frank and Brian surpassed my expectations. The report was extremely detailed. Frank and Brian answered all of my questions and were extremely prompt to respond via email/phone. It is evident they take great pride in their work. I would highly recommend them to others!

Michael P.

August 2022

Frank and his son Brian were extremely professional, thorough and helpful home inspectors. They took the time to explain existing problems, as well as pointing out things that could become problems in the future. The inspection report was incredibly helpful in assessing the priorities that we needed to focus on when fixing up our new home. Our experience with them was top notch and I can’t recommend them highly enough!

Michael B.

December, 2021
Frank and his employees were prompt, professional, and extremely thorough. He personally walked me through pretty much every phase of the inspection and was extremely helpful and informative when I had questions / concerns. Would definitely recommend.

Lynn M.

December, 2021
Frank and his son were a pleasure to work with. They always responded quickly to emails, were on time for the inspection and were very detailed in the inspection. This is the 2nd time I’ve had Frank to do an inspection for us and he was wonderful both times! I give them 10 stars!
Frank and his son Brain were very thorough and explained everything to us as they went through the home. They also supplied us was a very detailed report the next day. I would highly recommend them to anyone looking for a home inspector.

 

We are very pleased with our experience with Regal Home Inspection (Frank). Not only was the inspection scheduled promptly, it was extremely thorough and we had the detailed report, with photos, in our in -box the same day. Frank came to us as a recommendation and we will be sure to pass his info along to others. Very positive experience all around!!!

Kyle T

2020
Had a home inspected by them. Frank and Brian did a great job, very detailed, thorough, and responsive.

Sam B.

Feb 2020
Frank and his team were amazing! They did an extremely thorough inspection and were very professional throughout. As a first time home buyer they provided me a great deal of comfort in the decision I was making. I highly recommend Regal Home Inspection, as I would not use anyone else!!

Older – To emphasize the long term commitment of Regal Home Inspections, LLC to the client.

4/2014 “Better than I could have ever imagined. Great communication and feedback. Frank made me feel complete at ease the entire time. Pleasure to work with.” C.J., Elizabeth, NJ

3/17/2014 “I was not able to be present at the time of inspection but he was very trust worthy and I am glad with my decision of going with him. He was very helpful in the process of buying my condo.” D.T.

Radon. What does 4pCi/L mean and why is it important?

Radon

What does 4.0pCi/L represent?

By Frank J. Delle Donne, Licensed Home Inspector

January 16, 2014

About the author.  I am a NJ Licensed Home Inspector.  I am the owner and Senior Inspector at Regal Home Inspections, LLC.  I have been a volunteer Emergency Medical Technician for over 20 years and was  a past member of the Colts Neck, NJ Board of Health and was Chairman of that Board for 2008 and 2009.    During my studies to become a Home Inspector and earning my NJ Certification to be a Radon Measurement Technician I learned a great deal about Radon and felt compelled to share that information in a manner that is easy to understand and increases awareness.  Every home in New Jersey should be tested for Radon on a regular basis.  Regal Home Inspections, LLC is having a New Year 2014 SPECIAL on Radon testing.  These discounted prices are good through February 28, 2014.  Please call now to schedule your Radon test.

The federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been leading the effort to make citizens aware of radon and closer to home, the NJ Department of Environmental Protection (NJ-DEP) has been following suit.  Please read our earlier post for general information about radon.   This piece is intended to explain the measured results; When is it an issue and when is it not?

Background

A few points that I’d like to repeat from the earlier article is that radon is everywhere and it is naturally occurring.  It is a radioactive gas which means that it transforms spontaneously and in that transformation it releases tiny bursts of energy.  It is these tiny bursts of energy that cause harm.

Radon, like other radioactive materials, are measured in pCi/L.  This stands for pico Curies per liter of air.  A “pico Curie” is one-trillionths of a Curie.  A Curie is equivalent to 37 Billion radioactive disintegrations per second.  Therefore one pico-Curie works out to 2.2 radioactive disintegrations per minute (dpm) in a liter of air.  A “Curie” is of course named after Marie Curie who lived in the late 1800s to the 1930s.

Action Level

The EPA (and NJ-DEP) refers to 4.0pCi/L as measured over a minimum of 48 hours as the Action Level for radon mitigation.  This applies uniformly to real estate transactions and for the self motivated homeowner who tests for radon, they too should mitigate at this, measured level.

As mentioned in the previous article, the radioactive disintegrations take on three different forms.  There is Alpha radiation, Beta radiation and Gamma radiation.  The result of a, “disintegration” is a new element (Polonium, Lead, Bismuth or Radon) but the process that the atoms change also releases energy in Alpha, Beta or Gamma form.

At 2.22 dpm per pico Curie at 4pCi/L (assuming each one of your lungs holds a liter of air) that’s 16.88 (8.44 per lung) radioactive disintegrations that are occurring inside your lungs!  While these releases of energy are extremely tiny, they have the potential to damage cells and DNA.  This can lead to the events that begin the formation of mutant or cancerous cells.

So is 3.5pCi/L that much better?  Not really but for the real estate transaction, a radon test measurement that reads 4.0pCi/L will result in a letter from the buyer’s attorney to the seller/seller’s attorney stating that the seller must mitigate the radon and provide new test results that show the level is, post mitigation, less than 4.0pCi/L.

At or above 4.0pCi/L and a letter is coming.  A reading of just below 4.0pCi/L may ask for a second test where the two tests might be averaged.  Rest assured that at or above 4.0pCi/L and the seller will be calling a radon mitigation company.

Mitigation

Radon mitigation comprises of a system, usually a vent, that will reduce the measured radon inside at the lowest, “livable” area.

A very common type of mitigation system is a sub soil depressurization system.  In this method, a pipe is placed below the concrete basement floor.  That pipe (usually a 4” PVC pipe) is routed to the outdoor and a fan is placed to draw the air (and radon) from below the basement floor and vent it to the outdoors before it enters the house.  With this system the basement floor has to be sealed which means that sump pits are sealed and French drains are sealed.   Also, any cracks or other basement floor penetrations must also be sealed for the sub soil depressurization system to be most effective.

radon-mitigation-system-3
The white pipe is the radon mitigation system pulling air and radon from below the basement floor, up and outside before the radon gas enters the house. The area of the vent system that bulges out is a fan. The fan runs constantly.

The cost for such a system can be as low as $1500 but based upon many factors could be higher.   After the system is installed and activated, it should be left operation AT ALL TIMES.  It should be operating for at least 12 hours to allow “Dynamic Equilibrium” to occur.  This is a fancy way for saying that the positive effects of the new mitigation system should be set in place after 12 hours.  After this period of time a post-mitigation test must be done to ensure that the mitigation steps were successful.  In some cases secondary or tertiary mitigation steps must be taken to achieve a reading below 4.0pCi/l.  If for example your initial test reading was 8.0pCi/l and the first mitigation effort reduced the radon by 25%, Post-Mitigation test #1 may indicate a 25% drop but that’s still 6.0pCi/L.  A second mitigation system may have to be added which may reduce the radon by another 25%.  6.0pCi/L less 25% is only a 1.5pCi/L reduction so you STILL may be above 4.0pCi/L.  A third mitigation system may be necessary to finally get you below 4.0pCi/L.

Conclusion

Radon is a serious health issue but it can be minimized.  Likely, it cannot be eliminated.  It’s naturally occurring and exists in nature.  It’s not man-made nor can we stop it from existing.  We can, however, minimize its pathways into our homes and help ensure a healthy and safe environment.

Please call today to schedule your  radon test for your family.  Discounted prices are valid for tests started by February 28, 2014.  Please mention, “Radon Discount” when you call.  Also, if you need radon consultation, Regal Home Inspections, LLC can help guide you through the testing and mitigation process.

I would appreciate your comments about this article.  Please email your comments to frank07722@gmail.com .

Radon – What is it? TEST NOW!

What is Radon? | Certified Home Inspections Monmouth County NJ

About the author.  I am a NJ Licensed Home Inspector.  I am the owner and Senior Inspector at Regal Home Inspections, LLC.  I have been a volunteer Emergency Medical Technician for over 20 years and was  a past member of the Colts Neck, NJ Board of Health and was Chairman of that Board for 2008 and 2009.    During my studies to become a Home Inspector and earning my NJ Certification to be a Radon Measurement Technician I learned a great deal about Radon and felt compelled to share that information in a manner that is easy to understand and increases awareness.  Every home in New Jersey should be tested for Radon on a regular basis.  Regal Home Inspections, LLC is having a year end 2013 and a New Year 2014 SPECIAL on Radon testing.  These discounted prices are good through January 31, 2014.  Please call now to schedule your Radon test.

It is likely that every adult has heard of Radon and may have an idea about what it is.  This report is intended to shed some additional light on Radon and hopefully motivate and inspire you to have your house tested for Radon concentration levels. You maintain your smoke alarms and check your car’s brakes regularly because it’s the right thing to do.  Prudent, right?  It protects your safety, doesn’t it?  Well after you read this you should be similarly motivated to call us today to have your home tested for Radon.

So let’s begin with a simple question; What is Radon?  Radon is a gas.  It is odorless and colorless and can’t be detected by human senses.  Uranium and Radium precede Radon in the spontaneous transformation  chain.  Uranium and Radium are solids that exist underground.  As they go through radioactive decay the next link on the chain is Radon, now a radioactive gas.  Elements that are radioactive spontaneously transform at the atomic level.  One radioactive elements spontaneously releases energy and becomes another element and so on.  Hence the use of the word, “Chain”.

There are other gasses that we’re aware of and concerned about, aren’t there?  There’s CO or carbon monoxide.  There’s natural gas like the gas we use to heat our homes and cook with.  We all know that these two gasses, CO and natural gas can be dangerous and even lethal.  CO can kill if breathed for minutes and natural gas can kill if it seeps into the house and then explodes.  Remember the final scene in the movie, Shooter?  Ka-Boom!

Except for all being gasses however, the difference between Radon and CO and natural gas are very different.  First, Radon is naturally occurring and seeps up from below ground.  It is not flammable so it will not explode and it will not kill you, like CO will, if breathed in for minutes.  No, Radon can kill in a different way.

In New Jersey the state is divided into 3 Tiers.  High Radon Potential, Moderate and Low.  The preceding map gives you an idea of where these areas are and if you are in a High or Moderate Radon Potential area YOU SHOULD get your home tested annually or even twice a year.

Why is regular testing important?  Well it’s important because of how Radon creates health problems and the type of health problem it creates.  Also because there are a number of environmental factors that may slow or hasten the entry of Radon into your home.  A good reading or measurement in the spring does not guarantee a good reading or measurement in the winter.  Misunderstanding or relying on your one-time results could be harmful. 

Radon is a radioactive gas.  This means that Radon, as a gas will spontaneously transform creating a chain reaction of sorts.  Radon will go through radioactive decay and change into Polonium-218.   In turn Polonium-218 will spontaneously go through its radioactive decay and change in to Lead-214.  Lead-214 will in turn transform into Bismuth-214 and then into Polonium-214.  This is almost the same as Polonium 218 but not exactly.  Polonium-214 will go through its radioactive decay and become Lead-210.  These elements following Radon are referred to as Radon Decay Products (RDP), Radon Daughters or Radon Progeny.   

An atomic primer: Most atoms have the same number of Protons and Neutrons.  An element’s “Atomic Number” is the number of Protons; Hydrogen has 1 Proton so it’s atomic number is 1.  Radon has 86 Protons so its atomic number is 86.  When one calculates an atom’s Atomic Mass we add the Protons and Neutrons.  Since most atoms have the same number of Protons and Neutrons, “usually” the atomic mass is twice the Protons.  Hydrogen’s atomic mass is 2; 1 Proton and 1 Neutron.  Helium has an atomic mass of 4; 2 Protons and 2 Neutrons.

A different type of atom is an Isotope.  Isotopes are different because they have a different number of Protons and Neutrons.  Since Radon’s atomic number is 86, Radon-222 (Rn-222) means that there are 136 Neutrons; 86+136=222.  Earlier I mentioned Polonium-218 (Po-218) and Polonium-214 (Po-214).  Both Poloniums have 84 Protons but since both Po-218 and Po-214 are isotopes they have different numbers of neutrons.  Po-218 has 134 Neutrons and Po-214 has 130.

So Radon is a gas and if it’s in the air you will breathe it in.  Regardless of if the Radon is in your lungs or in the air, it will go through its radioactive decay cycle.  The issues are many.  First Polonium, Bismuth and Lead are all solids.  Yes, the gas Radon becomes a solid.  So these particles now will stick to your lungs and settle.  Second, when these radioactive decays occur the decay process releases energy.  Very, very, very small amounts of energy but when these atoms are in your lungs, this energy has the potential to do cellular level and DNA level harm.   So what’s the big deal about, “energy”?  Well if we refer to the energy in its proper terms then maybe you will start to understand the issue.  There are actually three forms of energy released during the radioactive decay processes mentioned a moment ago.  Each element does not release all three types of energy but most release two of the three.  Those energy forms are ALPHA RADIATION, BETA RADIATION AND GAMMA RADIATION.  Now do they sound harmful?  In Alpha decay the atom (Radon-222, Polonium-218 or Polonium-214 will spontaneously release 2 neutrons and 2 protons.  These equate to an atomic mass of 4 (Helium) therefore reducing the atomic mass of each atom by four.  Bismuth and Lead decay releasing Beta and Gamma radiation.  In Beta radiation an electron is released and a Neutron is changed to a Proton.  In Gamma radiation energy in the form of a photon is released.  At the cellular level and DNA level these particles of energy, Alpha, Beta and Gamma, are causing destruction and this is why they are harmful.  This damage can start a chain reaction leading to cancer.  Ionizing radiation has the power and energy to cause electrons in nearby atoms to escape their natural orbit.

It’s interesting to consider each element’s half life because this will start to give you an idea of what’s going on with Radon and Radon decay products.  Radon has a half life of 3.8 days.  This means that half the Radon will go through its spontaneous transformation in 3.8 days.  Energy is released.  The result is Polonium-218.  It has a half life of 3 minutes.  Half is now Lead-218 and it has a half life of 27 minutes.  Half of it releases its Beta and Gamma radiation and now we have Bismuth-218 half of which decays in 20 minutes and also releases Beta and Gamma radiation and becomes Polonium-218.  Polonium-218 has a half life of 160micro seconds (very fast) and releases Alpha and Gamma Radiation.  Now multiply the original Radon atom by millions and you can see how the numbers, and damage can add up. 

Again, it’s important to note that the levels of the energy or radiation are very, very, very, very small.  But when the energy is being released hour after hour, day after day and it’s occurring inside your delicate lung tissue you can see why Radon and the Radon Decay Products (RDPs) are the second leading cause of lung cancer behind smoking.   If you never (never, ever, ever) smoked you have a 7 in 1000 chance of getting lung cancer from Radon if your exposure is at the EPA’s Action Level (of 4pCi/L).  If you were a smoker (EPA refers to “Ever Smoked”) you have a 62 in 1000 chance of getting lung cancer if your exposure is at the EPA’s Action Level.  If your exposure is higher than 4pCi/l your chances of getting lung cancer in both smoked and never smoked goes up. 

So you had your house tested once and it had a good reading.  So you’re OK, right?  WRONG!!!  There are many factors that go into Radon penetration in a home.   First, was the house tested under proper, “Closed House” conditions?  What was the weather outside?  Was it winter or summer?  All these things, and many others, can impact your Radon measurement.  This is why it’s good to test regularly.  If a test is made and it’s high, take another test.   If you last test was in the winter, test again in the summer and vice-versa.  I had one client that had their house tested weeks apart and one reading was 4.8pCi/L and the other was 1.1pCi/L.  The point is test frequently as financially possible.  If you’ve just moved into a new house and it tested well, you will do yourself a favor if you test monthly or every other month for the first year.  Test frequently particularly if you have a young family and plan on being in the home for a long time.  Imagine a wheel-of-chance like you see at an amusement park.  The wheel is divided into 52 sections.  Each section represents one calendar week.  If you test once, you will not be capturing a representative sample of your home’s radon potential.  Barometric pressure, wind speed and wind direction, use of a fireplace and many, many other factors can affect your Radon test reading.  Some days and weeks promote Radon infiltration into your house and some do not.  It’s like spinning the wheel.  Sometimes your number comes up and sometimes it doesn’t.   However, when you spin the wheel you are not risking your health. 

Unlike CO and natural gas, Radon kills slowly.  So my recommendation is to call Regal Home Inspections, LLC now.  Let’s get you scheduled for a Radon test and then on a regular schedule for periodic testing.  If your test results are good that’s good for this, “snap-shot” but it does not guarantee that the next test will also be good.  If the test is high, we can re-test to confirm the findings.  If we get multiple reading above the EPA’s Action Level then you should install a Radon Mitigation System.  Regal Home Inspections DOES NOT install Radon Mitigation Systems.  So we’re NOT looking to find a problem so we can sell you on a more expensive product or service.  We are a Certified Radon Test Measurement company.  We will facilitate the test and work with a reputable lab that will analyze the test canisters and provide the results. I can help you interpret the results and continue to provide you with peace-of-mind with regular testing with or without mitigation.

 

Other Services | Certified Home Inspector Monmouth County NJ

home inspector monmouth county njRegal Home Inspections, LLC is thermal imaging certified and offers Monmouth County NJ certified home inspections, condo inspections, estate inspections, and townhouse inspections.

It’s likely your mortgage company will require a wood-destroying insect inspection. Regal Home Inspections has the NJ DEP Core & 7B Pesticide Applicator license, so we can offer professional termite and wood-destroying insect inspections as well!

Call 908-902-2590 for your free quote or if you have any questions!