Hello and welcome to living in the Lehigh Valley, where our focus is your health and wellness.
I'm your host, Brittany Sweeney.
What you can't see can hurt you.
That's what the US Environmental Protection Agency basically tells us about radon, this invisible radioactive gas seeps into our homes and buildings from the ground up.
According to the EPA, radon is the leading cause of lung cancer in nonsmokers.
Pennsylvania has among the highest rate on levels in the nation, and it's particularly high in the Lehigh Valley and surrounding counties.
Our own Grover Silcox is here to provide more information on how to test for it and how to mitigate radon in your home.
Grover, it's great to see you.
Great to be here.
So this is pretty scary.
You can't see it.
You can't smell it, right?
It is a problem.
And, you know, if it were smoke, you could see it.
But this is odorless, invisible.
So how do we know if it's in our home?
Well, we should test for it.
And there are easy ways to do that.
And, you know, the EPA tells us, according to studies, that it's also the second leading cause of lung cancer overall.
So it's a big problem.
So where do we start where we want to test for this?
Well, we start by first recognizing that it is a problem.
Next, we want to test our home for radon levels.
You can self test with a radon testing kit.
Most people do that in their basements or first floor of their homes, particularly if the house is on a slab without a basement floor.
If your test results show a radon level above four PECO Curies, then you're advised to have a radar mitigation system installed.
I learned all about it when a certified radon mitigation contractor, as he worked at a customer's home.
We lock our doors and shutter our windows to keep threats from entering our homes.
But what about a major threat already trapped inside?
This intruder enters from the ground up.
It's invisible, but no less deadly than those we can see in here.
Radon is an invisible, odorless gas that comes from the radioactive decay of radium and radium as a byproduct of uranium.
So if your home is built on a high content of uranium, there's a strong possibility that you're going to have radon.
It seeps into homes through cracks, crevices and holes in the foundation and works its way up through the house.
It's an issue because it's the second largest cause of lung cancer in the United States, and I believe it's responsible for approximately 20,000 deaths a year.
So it's serious.
Across Pennsylvania, it is an issue.
About 40 to 45% of the homes have radon level.
Dale Metzger is a DEP certified mediator who responds to homeowners who discover they have a radon problem, which, according to the EPA, is for PECO, Curies, or more of radon gas in their home.
It's called PECO carry per liters.
The DPI requires that you get it below four.
So for us, the magic number, you want to keep that number below four.
And that's really what a radon system does.
You must see every kind of situation there is when you walk into a customer's basement.
I mean, I've seen everything.
Dale inspects the basement for cracks, holes, gaps, the type of foundation and other aspects of the room to determine the kind of remediation system needed.
Homes built in 1990 through 2023 have loose aggregate stone underneath the slab.
And a lot of these houses will be higher because the radon can travel freely through that stone and come up through the cracks.
But at the same time, that's why you can get rid of the radon underneath the slab pretty easily.
The contractors who built this particular house put in a stub connected to the sub slab drainage system in anticipation that a radon mitigation system might be added at some point.
They attached a four inch furnace along to it, and now I'm creating negative pressure underneath the slab, which is getting rid of the radar.
This stub right here is teed off.
And inside the interior drain, underneath the slab.
So it's kind of an ideal situation for a remediated.
This is what you want to see.
Dale runs the piping up and through the wall, installs an exterior fan and extends the piping up above the roof.
So this is a read all the way up 145 fan.
It can do about 2500 to 3000 square feet and sucking the air out from underneath your slab.
Running through here, exhausting above your roof.
And the BP requires that that's a foot above and they want to switch with the inside of the fan.
So if I'm ever somebody's arrested changes, they can they can turn the switch off right here.
95% of the time when you tap into that, that radon will drop below for immediately.
If it's a little bit above it, then sometimes you have to do some sealing around the perimeter.
Homeowner Michelle Trimmer became concerned about the radon level in her house after neighbors reported high levels in their homes.
We went to Home Depot.
We were actually out shopping for something else, and it just happened to be there.
And I said, Let's pick that up and just try it.
And it doesn't look like it's not hard to do.
So we'll try it out.
Homeowners can find an array of easy to use inexpensive test kits and digital testers at local home improvement stores or online.
Michelle was glad they tested their home and they were shocked to see it at 49.
So they contacted a realtor they knew and the realtor gave them my name.
That's how I got this job.
Dale completes his install per DEP regulation by attaching a Minamata, its literature and stickers with important information to the remediation system.
So this Minamata is telling me right now that my fan is flowing almost full capacity, moving as much air as it possibly can through the interior drain underneath the slab.
So this is really ideal for me.
The fan has a five year manufacturer's warranty.
There's a sticker here that just tells you my company name, the date it was said.
So if that fan were to stop within five years of the date on that sticker and I can replace that fan for free.
According to the EPA, a radon test should be conducted within 30 days of the remediation installation and after the fan has been operating for 24 hours.
I would say to go get it done.
It's I think the test costs like $20 and then you mail it in and it costs you $15 and you get peace of mind whether you have it or whether you don't.
And then if you can get the remote, if you do have it, the remediation is very cost efficient.
It's not it's not expensive at all.
One less thing we have to worry about and it will be ready if we decide that we want to sell in the future.
Now offers a parting bit of advice for anyone purchasing a home.
If you just recently purchased a home and you inherited a radon system, you need to make sure you tested.
So you get that home and then you go to sell.
15 years later, you find out the radon spin high all along.
So you need to make sure you tested it to confirm that it's taking that level down below for a simple radon test and remediation can rip your house of that invisible enemy and allow you and your family to breathe a bit easier.
It's important to find a radon mitigation contractor like Dale Metzger, who is certified by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection.
Same goes for testers.
If you want a professional to do the testing again, look for a tester who's certified by the DEP.
You can find certified contractors in both categories listed online at DEP dot p a dot gov slash radon.
So, Grover, in your reports, the woman found that her neighbor had high levels of radon.
But interestingly, radon levels are site specific so that your neighbor could have low rate on levels below.
For PECO, Curies and you right next door could have high levels above in the unhealthy zone.
So it's very site specific.
So it doesn't matter how close you are to someone else with high levels.
It could vary place to place.
What about the cost of radon remediation?
Well, according to Dale, the contractor in my story, it can run between 1012 hundred dollars.
So for a homeowner, perhaps relatively affordable.
So then does it fix the problem long term?
It almost always fixes the problem.
And then you after you install the system 24 hours later, that's when you want to start testing.
Definitely within 30 days after installation.
Some great information to stay healthy and safe inside our homes.
Grover, thank you so much for them.
And that'll do it for this edition of Living in the Lehigh Valley.
I'm Brittany Sweeney, hoping you stay happy and healthy.