Radon in Commercial and Other Buildings
Radon in homes tends to be the largest area of concern for most people; however, in the United States, many people spend the majority of their day inside some type of building, including schools. It is very important to understand that radon is not confined to residential areas. Because radon is a natural gas released by soil and rock, it is just as prevalent in other building structures, especially if the workplace or school is located in a geographical area prone to higher levels of radon. Radon enters commercial buildings and schools in the same way as it does a home; through cracks, floors, walls and drainage systems.
Radon in the Workplace
Because radon is a natural gas, there will be some level of it in any enclosed building structure. What should be of the most concern is the amount of radon that is entering the structure, since that, along with the length of time exposed, are the primary contributing factors to the health risks posed by radon gas.
Many people are aware of the radon exposure risks to miners and nuclear material workers, but most don’t consider the amount of radon that could potentially be entering their place of business. Although radon tends to be highest in the lowest level of a structure, there are other structural factors that may be contributing to radon entry into other levels of the building, such as cracks in floors, walls, drainage systems and some building materials.
If you are concerned that the radon levels in your workplace or business may be above the EPA action level of 4.0 pCi/L, please contact your workplace safety officer. Detection of radon is as simple as conducting tests, which is the only way to know if radon is a problem that needs action. As serious as radon exposure is, rest assured that SRT Environmental has the expertise to solve all of your radon problems.
Radon in Schools
As you learned in the previous paragraph, homes are not the only places children and adults can be exposed to high levels of radon. It is very important that parents, teachers and school officials are aware that radon could be a potential problem in their schools. The U.S. EPA has reported that a nationwide survey provided results on radon in schools that estimated 70,000+ schoolrooms have a short-term radon level above 4.0 pCi/L.
The only way to know if your school has radon levels that pose a risk to you or a child’s health is to conduct a test. Speak with your school officials to find out more on the radon action plan in place in your schools or contact your local state radon office.
Radon in Multi-Family Structures:
Although the higher concentrations of radon are typically found at ground level or below, it is not impossible for second and third story levels or higher to also have a radon concentration above 4.0 pCi/L. Radon can move through air shafts or elevators in taller buildings. It is just a good rule of thumb to simply conduct a test to ensure that you are not unknowingly exposing yourself or your family to high levels of radon gas.
HUD lending requirements for multi-family living have recently changed. HUD now requires that if any multi-family structure, intended to be rented, is being built or re-financed with a HUD loan, the loan applicant must randomly test 25% of the ground level units. If any of the units come back with a radon concentration of 4.0 pCi/L or higher, the entire building must be mitigated, not just the unit that tested high.
If you are unsure if the apartment or condo you are renting has been tested for radon, you should ask the owner of the property. If a test has been conducted, you can ask for a copy of the test results. Another option is to have a radon test conducted for peace of mind.
If your radon test comes back with radon levels of 4.0 pCi/L or above, notify the apartment owner in writing and discuss the need for additional testing or mitigation.
SRT Environmental is experienced in testing and mitigation of radon in apartments, condos and townhomes. Let us set your mind at ease, contact us to schedule a test.