Recent news stories have raised concerns about the possibility of an increase of gases released due to fracking and radiation coming from granite countertops. Granite, as with most rocks and soils, contains naturally occurring radioactive elements like uranium, and potassium commonly referred to as Naturally Occurring Radioactive Material (NORM) in small amounts. The amount of radioactivity in most granite is quite small. While it is possible to get a measurable level of direct radiation from some granite, in general it emits less radiation than we are regularly exposed during an average day. These levels are so low that they are not harmful to your health, so your counter top is pretty safe.
However, radon is found in both outdoor air and in the indoor air of buildings and can even be found in building materials. Radon can seep into homes from underground uranium deposits and well water and build up to higher than normal levels. Hydraulic fracturing (fracking) has increased in oil and natural-gas production and is frequently used in Texas. The fracking process blasts millions of gallons of water, sand and chemicals deep underground to break apart shale deposits and release natural gas. This water can mix with natural water tables and seep into our water systems. While supporters say fracking is a safe part of energy production, others are concerned that the process could contaminate water supplies and may contribute to earthquakes.
A radon atom will linger in the air for approximately 3 to 4 days, especially in the lower areas of your home. The radon particle breaks down into “radon daughters” during this period of time. These daughters have a half-life of only an hour or so and give off 3 alpha particles (1 from radon, 2 from the daughters). These degraded daughters attach themselves to dust and other particles in the air and are the cause of the health risks when we breathe in particles and dust. But we can use various products to remove the particles from the air. But, don’t use use an ionic style air cleaner. These types of air purifiers can make the situation worse. The airborne dust can be significantly radioactive since they contain radon daughters and can accumulate on the air cleaner collector charged plates.
The EPA and the Surgeon General’s Office estimate that radon causes over 20,000 deaths from lung cancer every year. While most areas in Texas emit lower levels of radon, the EPA suggests that every home should be tested. The EPA recommends homes be fixed if the radon level is 4 pCi/L (picocuries per liter) or more. Because there is no known safe level of exposure to radon, they also recommend that everyone should consider fixing their home for radon levels between 2 pCi/L and 4 pCi/L. The average radon concentration in indoor air is about 1.3 pCi/L. The best solution is of course to keep as much radon out of the house as possible. This means sealing up floors and venting any under house areas so that radon can not accumulate.
Radon is clear, odorless and tasteless, but we can find it. Radon can exist in your home and you would never know it was there without a radon test. You can do the test yourself. Test kits might be found at your local hardware store for about $10 – $15, depending on the demand for kits in your area. You may also purchase test kits online from numerous companies or through the National Radon Program Services. You can also contact the National Radon Proficiency Program (NRPP) or the National Radon Safety Board (NRSB) for more information about radon mitigation and products available online or in stores to help with Radon removal.
For information on the latest in air purification and filtration for your home, check with licensed HVAC contractors such as Abacus.
Abacus makes no claim or warranty about any products mentioned to help with Radon. This information is provided for general consumer awareness. Refer to all manufacturer labels, websites and purveyors of any products you purchase for your home before purchasing or using them.
Abacus Plumbing, Air Conditioning & Electrical is a full service residential contractor that has been serving the greater Houston area for over 50 years. Abacus is a member of the Greater Houston Chamber of Commerce and has an A+ rating on the Better Business Bureau of Houston. Abacus is licensed and insured and offers 24/7 emergency service. To learn more about Abacus Air Conditioning, Plumbing & Electrical, visit www.abacusplumbing.net or call (832) 554-9951. License Numbers: ALAN O'NEILL M-20628 | TACLB82488E | TECL 30557
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