Radon exceeding EPA limits has been discovered in Florida homes and condos. Several independent studies have concluded the source is contaminated concrete. Palm Beach, FL (Vocus) November 10, 2010
“You probably thought radon was only found in northern states with rocky soil, well guess again because it’s being discovered in homes and condos all over Florida,” according to Kevin Dickenson, a Palm Beach real estate agent with Prudential Florida Realty (http://www.kevindickenson.com).
Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer and is responsible for more deaths every year than drunk drivers, according to the EPA. Radon is a naturally occurring, odorless and colorless radioactive gas that can be found in soil, granite, concrete and water. Before you get too excited, radon is also found in the air we breathe, and depending upon where you live, it can be as high as 0.75 pCi/L (picocuries per liter) according to Air Chek, Inc.
The EPA recommends fixing your home if radon levels are 4.0 pCi/L or higher.
“It’s simple to test your home with a do-it-yourself radon test kit for as little as $15, or you can hire a certified Florida Department of Health inspector”, says Dickenson. “The passive kits work great, but only if you are in complete control of the test conditions and follow the protocol.” The 48 hour charcoal kit is easily manipulated by opening a window or moving it outside and you should hire an inspector that uses a continuous monitor if you suspect someone may tamper with the test.”
“I recently documented radon levels that were two to three times the EPA limit in a newer high-rise Palm Beach condo, but the levels measured were minimal compared to my hometown in Connecticut,” said Dickenson. CT Radon reported radon levels as high as 483 pCi/L in a basement and 660,000 pCi/L in a private well. According to this site, one in four basements in Connecticut has radon levels above the EPA limit.
So where is radon coming from in Florida? “In Naples, it’s well-known that the concrete is the primary source of radon, and as a result, most developers incorporate fresh air systems in the initial design,” stated Dickenson. Bill Brodhead of WPB Enterprises, Inc. conducted a comprehensive study on a Palm Beach condo and reached a similar conclusion.
There is also speculation that granite counters could contribute to high radon levels, but a comprehensive study in 2008 by Environmental Health and Engineering, Inc disagrees. The company studied 400 granite slabs from 115 different varieties and concluded that the radon level emitted by the granite is consistently lower than the background level of radon found outdoors.
“The solution in Florida is to bring in fresh air, but systems vary widely and you should hire a Florida Department of Health certified mitigator for the installation,” said Dickenson. “The EPA website does a great job of describing mitigation systems for basements up north, but they don’t address systems for humid climates where the source is the concrete.” “I’ve seen plenty of fresh air systems that have created major mold problems and this compelled me to form http://www.Florida-Radon.blogspot.com." The site contains links to studies, test kits, certified inspectors and photos of actual fresh air systems.
“Building codes have changed dramatically over the years with the advent of impact windows and super insulating materials, and as a result, our homes don’t breathe,” said Dickenson. “Toxins from laminated floors, carpeting, radon, paint, glues and other materials build up inside our homes and I think most doctors would agree that adding fresh air to a home is actually a good thing.” After all, Florida building codes require fresh air systems in our commercial buildings and schools, so why isn’t it required in our homes?
•John P. Lapotaire, CIEC •Certified Indoor Environmental Consultant •Microshield Environmental Services, LLC •www.Microshield-ES.com