18.7 picocuries of doom

Our second mail-in radon test results just arrived. We went from 9.8 pCi/L on the first test to 18.7 pCi/L on the most recent. The EPA “action level” for radon is 4 pCi/L, which means we went from over twice the action level to over 4 times the action level. So, instead of travel or a new laptop, we’ll be dropping our tax refunds and “stimulus” check on radon abatement.

Radon is bad. It’s the gaseous derivative of Uranium, which exists naturally in the soil. As Uranium decays (a half-life of 4.4 billion years), it creates other byproducts, such as radon and radium. Radon has a very short half-life – only like 24 hours – but the derivatives are just as, well, radioactive. So, when you breath air with radon and the alpha particles released during its decay, you injure your lungs and the precious nodules that trap oxygen and put it in to your blood. The more exposure you have and the higher the concentration (measured in picocuries per liter), the worse. I don’t have the equivilency in front of me anymore (the library wanted the book back), but breathing at 10 pCi/L, you’re exposing your lungs to the cancer-causing equivilent of smoking a pack of cigarettes a day. The chart didn’t say if they were mentholated or not.

So now we get to mitigate. My parents recently did this, and they successfully “kicked the habit” by installing a well and active ventilation system that draws radon from the soil and vents it above the house. Since we have an earthen-floored crawl space, we have a few more options, but the likely mitigation will be to install vents and pour a slab of concrete over the floor. I’ll be calling in favors for this part, because it’ll take a bucket brigade to hand carry cement to the opening of the crawl space. Sound like fun?

I suppose the positive thing to take away is that our new windows in the basement are doing a good job of cutting down on the the drafts. And to think – when we bought the house we were worried about the furnace leaking carbon monoxide into the crawl space. Too bad there’s not billion dollar industry trying to tell us that radon is safe and non-addictive.

5 thoughts on “18.7 picocuries of doom”

  1. Sorry about having to blow a bunch of money fixing that. I guess that’s part of the “suckyness” of homeowning.
    Though, your comparison to the cigarette industry cracked me up.
    Let me know when you need a hand moving concrete.
    I work for beer.

  2. Yep, radon’s bad stuff, and that reminds me that we haven’t checked our house yet. Let me know if you need to borrow an extra wheelbarrow or a concrete float or anything. I work for beer too… assuming I’m not working on my own home improvement project at the time.

  3. I hate it when people call it cement and not concrete…. Why are you going to use buckets? Just call around to you local concrete plants and ask who has a pump truck with a hose long enough to get under your house. It would save a lot of time. Then you could drink beer with one hand and hold the line with the other. Two birds with one hose.

  4. yeah, pump truck is the way to go. It costs a bit more to get two trucks in, but you save on time (obviously) and cement is cheaper when making a big slab when you use a truck. I haven’t checked, but isn’t concrete just cement with gravel? I guess if you don’t use gravel, if you used sand instead, i guess that’s still aggregate… okay fine… concrete is correct – sheesh.

Comments are closed.