Archive for April, 2012
Elevated Radon Levels in Chattanooga
Chattanooga is the fourth largest city in Tennessee and is surrounded by dozens of scenic highlands and rivers. It is famous for its natural beauty, but unfortunately many homes in the region are contaminated with toxic radon levels. Radon is a colorless and odorless gas formed due to the natural breakdown of uranium and similar elements in the soil. When this gas builds up inside a structure, it can become extremely dangerous.
Ideally, the air in your home should contain less than 4.0 picocuries per liter of radon gas. Radon can accumulate in many different types of homes, especially those built in regions rich in uranium, those with partially-built basements and incomplete construction or those constructed into the side of a hill. The uranium in rock and soil breaks down into radium which further decays into radon gas. The low pressure inside homes often results in a weak vacuum that pulls the radon in from the ground through cracks and spaces in the foundation. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, high radon levels are found more in the western and northern part of Chattanooga than in the eastern and southern regions. However, any type of home in any region can potentially contain radon gas, so you should have SWAT Environmental test your home as a precaution regularly.
Dangers of High Radon Levels
Radon gas is the primary cause of lung cancer among non-smokers, one reason why you should not underestimate its risks. Since there are no immediate symptoms or means of detecting the gas through the human senses alone, the gas is also known as a “silent killer”. Inhaling concentrated radon gas results in potentially serious damage to your lung cells, which then can possibly lead to lung cancer.
Checking your home’s radon levels is the first step to protect yourself from its effects. Free radon test kits can be obtained from many local health agencies and hardware stores in the Chattanooga area. Of course, a professional test from SWAT Environmental will provide much faster and more accurate results. If the radon levels in your house are higher than is safe, the Environmental Protection Agency recommends hiring mitigation specialists to remove the radon from your home and to prevent it from returning. SWAT Environmental’s specialists will be able to determine the most effective types of mitigation for each part of your home. For example, an active sub-slab suction method is used for foundations by running pipes into the soil underneath the building. The vent fan from the pipe draws the radon gas out into the open air. For crawlspaces and spaces between two walls, a sub-membrane suction method can be highly effective. It involves using a pipe in combination with an airtight seal to force the gas out through an opening. Regardless of the specific techniques necessary in your house, implementing a mitigation system to reduce your radon levels can be a very important step to protect both your health and that of your family.
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