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Radon-Resistant Construction For New Homes. What Is Radon? n Radon is a gas n It is naturally occurring. n It is inert and cannot be seen or smelled.

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Presentation on theme: "Radon-Resistant Construction For New Homes. What Is Radon? n Radon is a gas n It is naturally occurring. n It is inert and cannot be seen or smelled."— Presentation transcript:

1 Radon-Resistant Construction For New Homes

2 What Is Radon? n Radon is a gas n It is naturally occurring. n It is inert and cannot be seen or smelled. n It enters buildings from the soil beneath them. Uranium Radium Radon

3 Why Is Radon a Concern? n Radon decays into radioactive particles known as radon decay products. n These particles are easily inhaled and deposited in the lungs where they can damage sensitive lung tissue. Radon Decay Products Radon Radon

4 Alpha Particles Are Strong Enough To Pit Plastic n Plastic chip from passive radon test (alpha track). n Magnified only 100 times. n 3 months at EPA Action Level of 4 pCi/L. Photo by Dr. J.F. Burkhart

5 Radon Induced Lung Cancer n Risk increased by both duration & concentration of exposure n One dart at a time for a long time, or handfuls of darts over a short time

6 National Research Council BEIR VI: February 19, 1998 n “Radon is one of the most extensively investigated human carcinogens.” n Radon is a “...public-health problem and makes indoor radon the second leading cause of lung cancer after cigarette smoking.” n “…indoor radon should be considered as a cause of lung cancer in the general population that is amenable to reduction.”

7 How Radon Compares To Other Causes Of Death Lower estimate Drunk Driving DrowningsFires/Burns Air Transportation Radon Upper estimate Source: U.S. EPA’s Home Buyer’s and Seller’s Guide (Radon: National Academy of Sciences, Non-radon: National Safety Council)

8 How Is Radon Drawn Into A Building? n Vacuums created by: u Exhaust systems u Thermal stack effects

9 Basic Components of Passive System Large gravel beneath slab Polyethylene soil-gas retarder between slab and gravel Sealing and caulking Vent pipe running between sub-slab gravel and roof Junction Boxes (to power fan and warning device, if needed)

10 Passive System Concept for Crawl Spaces n Suction point is under plastic sheet placed over exposed soil or rock n Radon is collected and exhausted outdoors n Seams and edges are sealed Attic Depressurization Piping System Discharge Plastic Sheet

11 Why Not Wait Until Home Is Finished? n You can incorporate features that can eliminate need for fan. u Sub-grade can be made more permeable during construction. u Routing pipe through warm chases can create natural stack effect. n Vent can be hidden in chases to improve looks.

12 City Response to Radon n INFORMATION: Encourage radon testing, mitigation n INCENTIVE: Test kit sales n ORDINANCES: u Radon information at point of sale u Building Code rules and inspector certification for voluntary RRNC

13 Next Step: Require RRNC? n Air Quality Action Plan: consider RRNC ordinance n City Council: bring RRNC ordinance for a vote as part of Building Code update

14 Process timeline n Public outreach: February-March n City Council Study Session: May 13 n Building Code adoption: July

15 Option 1: No Change, Baseline n Some builders install RRNC voluntarily. n Some owners fix radon after they move in. n Assuming no mitigation, expect about 472 cancers during the lifetimes of 59,000 new residents in 24,000 new dwellings with median 2.5 pCi/L.

16 Option 2: Require RRNC n 47% reduction from passive system would avoid about 222 lifetime cancers. n Cost is about $522 per system, or about $56,000 per cancer avoided. n Further reduction if owner installs fan for about $200

17 Other Options We Have Thought About n Ordinance “exceptions” based on: u First Owner Preference (quasi-voluntary) u Building Location (map-based) u Building Cost (keep housing affordable) n These are not desirable because: u Un-equal protection u More costly to administer u Home owner can’t tell if he has a radon system based on date of construction

18 Radon Resistant New Construction Makes Sense n Low-cost u $350-$500 per home u Versus $800-$2,500 to retrofit n Simple -- uses common building materials n Effective -- reduces radon levels by about 50% n Other benefits include moisture control and energy savings n RRNC protects families

19 Public Outreach n Web site: n Phone: Comment Line 416-2942 n Outreach to affected groups n Letter requesting comments n Advertising, press releases

20 Thanks to… n National Environmental Health Association n U.S. Environmental Protection Agency …for presentation materials

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