Radon is a colorless, odorless element which seeps slowly but surely through solid rock, clay, soil, and concrete, although it prefers to move through cracks, joints, and open air. Radon is a radioactive noble gas, and although this seepage is best measured in picocuries per liter – a picocurie being one trillionth of a curie – breathing in as few as 4 pCi/L of radon on a regular basis has been directly linked to lung cancer. And throughout hundreds of counties all across the United States, 4 pCi/L is the least you should expect.
Fortunately, this danger has not gone unaddressed. In fact, if your home was built after 1990, chances are good that it already has a system in place designed to keep it safe from radon. This system is remarkably simple and inexpensive, at least when you’re building a new home: it consists of an impermeable plastic sheet sandwiched in between the foundation above and gravel below, and thanks to this sheet any gasses coming from below will funnel towards a simple PVC pipe which leads straight up through the building and out the roof, where the radon can do no harm.
The passive vent system is usually enough for most buildings, but if radon still manages to seep up through the floor, you can switch to active with the addition of a fan near the top of the PVC pipe. In addition, this system is also an effective aid for reducing moisture in the basement since it also draws water vapor up though the house.
If you live in or near Maryland and you need a consultation for waterproofing a new home, or if you need to retrofit anti-radon measures into an older home, then contact AA Action Waterproofing for an estimate. We’ve been installing, rebuilding, and waterproofing basements for over 27 years, and in all that time we’ve never come up against a problem we couldn’t fix.