Building a Radon-Resistant Home

The Essentials

Radon is a radioactive gas that seeps up into structures such as homes, buildings, etc. A progeny (daughter product) of uranium, humans end up inhaling radon, which can pose a health risk when indoors in areas that people spend a lot of time in and where radon levels are above accepted norms. Upon inhaling, the radon particles can deposit in your lungs and, over time, alter your cell DNA, thus increasing the risk of lung cancer. 

The foremost risk from radon comes when it is inhaled, while a lesser yet still important risk is posed by exposure to radon in water, especially in groundwater. In fact, one study in conducted in Nigeria shows that radon in groundwater can pose a significant health risk under certain conditions. 

 

How Radon Enters

As a radioactive gas that can seep in your home through fissures, cracks, openings, and more in your home's foundation, there are two main factors behind how much of a health hazard radon can pose: geology and air pressure. 

Geology  

Radon is a decay product of uranium. The more uranium there is in the ground and on the surface in the surrounding area, the more likely it is that your radon exposure will be greater. Moreover, if human industrial activities have been or continue to be conducted near where you live, this can also increase your radon exposure through Technologically Enhanced Naturally Occurring Radioactive Material (TENORM).

Air pressure

In the vast majority of cases, the air pressure in a home (or building, for that matter) will be lower than it is in the soil directly under it. This results in the home acting as a magnet that draws the radon from the radon gas from the soil into the home. On the rare occasion that a home has higher pressure in it than the soil below, then the radon gas will not enter the home. 

 

Employ Easy Building Solutions

CareTac can consult you and your builder on the proper methods to use to mitigate radon exposure in your home, with most of these methods adding very little cost and providing significant positive impact

  • Gravel permeable layer

  • Pastic sheeting

  • Venting pipe

  • Junction box

  • Sealing and caulking

Radon-resistant construction is not commonly practiced in South Africa, and therefore you are unlikely to find it advertised in many places; however, CareTac can provide the proper consulting and knowledge that will allow your builder to implement methods to mitigate radon. 

 

How Radon Mitigation Systems Work

Passive system

Like CareTac radon test kits, a radon mitigation system works passively to reduce the amount of radon people in a home are exposed to. As mentioned above, when air pressure in a home is lower than it is in the soil beneath, the home acts as a magnet that draws the radon gas up from the soil and into the home. A radon mitigation system acts to eliminate this natural effect by hindering the radon's entry with a pressure barricade, while additional precaution is taken by installing a pipe to ventilate the radon gas into the outdoor environment. 

Active system

At times, a passive system is not nearly enough to keep radon from entering your home. In which case, an active radon mitigation system can be installed. This involves a fan continuously pulling out radon gas from the soil beneath your home and jettisoning into the outdoor environment. 

 

When in Doubt, Test

With South Africa's diverse geology, extensive industrial background, and lack of government initiative to take on radon, the only way to ensure that your home is radon-resistant is to test and take any subsequently necessary measures. 

The US Environmental Protection Agency recommends that indoor radon levels do not exceed 148 Bq/m3 (4 pCi/L). If tests reveal that your home is at or above these levels, CareTac can consult you on the proper steps to take to mitigate and monitor your radon risks.