1/24/18 - ROCIS Radon Insights

ROCIS Radon Insights

Through the ROCIS Low-Cost Monitoring Project, participants receive monitors to test radon for a month or longer.  AirThings radon monitors provide a viewable display and show 1-day, long-term averages (up to one year), and 7-day averages.  We ask folks to place the monitors in the basement and first floor.  Participants take daily readings of the results and share their data with the ROCIS team. 

Many of our participants have found radon problems in their homes/workplaces, which has led them to take steps to mitigate the radon gas.  Participants have had subslab radon depressurization mitigation systems installed as well as sealing radon entry points in their foundation.

Findings through monitoring

1. Radon levels can vary widely from day to day, week to week, and season to season.  Changes in the weather, particularly changes in barometric pressure, as well as wet and dry conditions have an impact. House operating conditions make a difference.  Based on their experience, few LCMP will trust the results from a 3-day test the next time they buy a house.

2. Lots of Opportunity!  Many homes and workplaces found radon above the EPA action level of 4 pCi/L (picocuries per liter) even more above the WHO  (World Health Organization) recommendation of 2.7 max (picocuries per liter).  In Allegheny County, over 40% of homes tested are over the EPA action level.

3.  Not as expensive to mitigate as expected.  In most cases the cost to mitigate a home through a professional was less $1,000.  The PA DEP maintains a list of certified radon professionals.  LCMP participants who had radon mitigation work done were all able to verify the impact with ROCIS monitors.

4.  Don’t Assume; Test to Verify. Two folks had relatively new homes that were built with passive radon systems. They found some of the highest radon levels measured to date.  The good news was that it was very inexpensive to install a fan and bring the radon level down well below the EPA action level. Three others with active radon systems were not working as intended.  Many participants had a previous radon test done and had determined that their radon was below the EPA action level.  In most cases that result was verified with longer term monitoring.  Regardless, it makes sense to test every two years, preferably in the winter, to make sure.

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