Some Common Radon Questions & Misconceptions
The #1 question:
The house has been closed for a long time. Isn't that why the radon levels are high?
No. First, because radon is a radioactive gas, it has a half-life. The known half-life of radon is 3.8 days. Every 3.8 days, half of whatever level of radon you have dissipates or decays. So the radon that is recorded on a test is radon that has entered the building very recently (within the last several days). The radon that entered the house two months ago is long gone because of the 3.8-day half-life.
Second, every structure has some form of air exchange or ventilation rate. This means that the interior air in the house "escapes" or "exfiltrates" out of the home with new air infiltrating into the home on a regular basis. Therefore, the air in the home is not "old" air. The air is continually "purged" from the house due to the ventilation rate.
Does the topography of my location matter?
The physical characteristics or appearance of an area is not necessarily a reliable indicator for assessing whether or not a structure will have a radon problem. There needs to be a radium bearing source on which a structure is built to have an airborne or waterborne radon problem. For instance, the water needs to be exposed to radium bearing sources in the aquifer for radon to dissolve into it. A "rocky" or "ledgy" area is not always an "automatic" when it comes to radon.
A previous test showed no problem with airborne or waterborne radon. Should I bother re-testing?
Yes! Refer to our previous explanation on the fluctuation of radon levels.
My builder or REALTOR® says there's no radon in this section of town, county, or state? Should I test for it?
Radon is naturally occurring and is found everywhere in the world to some degree. It’s important to test.
My home is new. Should I bother testing for radon?
New homes? TEST! We have mitigated a newly constructed home with an airborne radon concentration of 900 pCi/L.
Are pH & hardness the same thing?
No. pH is a measure of the relative balance or imbalance of acid vs. alkaline substances in the water supply. Hardness is a measure of calcium & magnesium content in the water.
Does a water softener remove arsenic?
No. Water softeners remove positively charge ions from the water. Uranium & arsenic carry a negative charge.
Will reverse osmosis remove iron?
Yes- BUT! you don't want an RO to remove iron or any other contaminant that can prematurely foul the membrane. RO should be used as a "polisher" for the water. You want filtration "up stream" of the RO to do the heavy lifting.
I have bacteria in my water. Will a well chlorination fix this?
Maybe. A well shock or chlorination is often times the first course of action to take when a bacteria problem is discovered. However, once the chlorine is gone, there's no guarantee the problem wont reoccur. UV is a clean, guaranteed solution to sterilize water.
Ultraviolet light sterilization is the only guaranteed solution that makes sense for residential water sterilization. Its also green technology with no disinfection by-products.
My well is buried. Do I have to extend the casing above grade?
No. Buried wells are "grandfathered" and are not required to be extended above grade. However! Extending a well above grade is a good idea for sanitary purposes. Buried wells have seals that will eventually fail, allowing surface water to contaminate the potable water supply.
I don't see any spiders in my basement, does that mean I have radon?
Nonsense! Insect life is in no way indicative of whether or not a home has a radon problem.
Do salt free softeners work?
This is a tricky topic. The only way to soften water is by ion exchange. Ion exchange can only be accomplished by a unit that exchanges salt (or potassium) for calcium & magnesium (hardness).
Salt free systems alter the way the hardness ions act, theoretically eliminating their negative impact typically associated with hard water. There is an overabundance of marketing on digital media for these types of systems. Ultimately, if salt free systems performed as claimed in marketing materials, salt based systems would have gone by the way of dinosaurs long ago. For the record: We offer both types.
For clarification on other common radon myths and misconceptions, see "Home Buyers and Sellers Guide to Radon" at http://www.epa.gov/iaq/radon/pubs/index.html or call our office at (800) 319-8867.
Contact us to schedule radon testing at your home or business. Based in Stratford, we serve clients throughout Connecticut as well as portions of New York.