January is National Radon Action Month. When you say the word “radon,” most people probably think about residential homes. The majority of people probably never hear of radon until they buy or sell a house. But, the issue of radon spreads far beyond what can be found in homes. Radon found in commercial buildings is a significant issue that everyone should know about.
People spend a large amount of time in their office buildings, warehouses, or schools, making the potential for long-term exposure to dangerous levels of radon very high.
What Is Radon?
Radon is a radioactive, odorless, and colorless gas found naturally in the air. Outside, radon is not much of a threat. However, when the gas concentrates indoors, whether in a home or a commercial building, it becomes an issue, increasing the risk of lung cancer over time. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, radon is the second-leading cause of lung cancer in the United States.
Radon Detection in Commercial Facilities
Detection is integral to slowing the incidence of radon-caused illnesses. Effective detection allows mitigation to then take place.
Radon detection is relatively inexpensive, so it makes sense for leadership at companies, schools, or other organizations housed in commercial buildings to test for the presence of the harmful gas.
There exists a myriad of options for detection. These include passive radon detection options such as charcoal canisters, alpha-track detectors, and charcoal liquid scintillation devices. There’s also been new options hitting the market. These include detectors that supply readings within minutes, instead of days, and affordable consumer options. With evolving technology, the options become better, faster, smarter, more accurate, and more affordable to deploy year by year.
Detection is key to saving lives and ensuring healthy commercial buildings for everyone, including office workers, consumers who pack our nation’s malls, and students flowing into educational facilities every day.
Radon Mitigation in Commercial Buildings
Once radon is detected in a commercial building, mitigation options are available to make the building safe for everyone.
Mitigation approaches for commercial buildings are similar to those used in individual homes. To end the threat that comes with radon exposure, the radon present must be pulled from the soil below the building and pumped out through a pipe above the roof of the building.
When it comes to larger commercial buildings, mitigation gets a bit trickier. There are two main methods for radon mitigation in larger, commercial buildings. One of these is called drain-tile depressurization, where suction point pipes attach to drain tile, which is found either outside or inside the footings of a building. Another method is called sub-slab depressurization, where piping is installed through a slab floor in a building, and a fan directs the hazardous gas to the building’s exterior, where it dissipates.
Proactively, builders can install capability to add mitigation systems as they build new buildings, ensuring that, at minimal later cost, radon can be directed out of the building right away if it is detected.
By focusing on radon detection and mitigation in all buildings, large and small, the nation stands to be on the road to lessening the adverse effects of radon exposure and curbing the illness and deaths that occur year after year.