Did you know lung cancer can affect people who have never smoked a day in their lives? Radon is the second-leading cause of lung cancer behind smoking—and it kills 21,000 Americans every year.
Radon is a naturally occurring gas that escapes from soil into buildings. Its radioactive properties come from the decay of uranium in the ground, and because nearly all soils contain uranium, radon is everywhere. It’s also invisible and odorless, and dangerously elevated levels can exist indoors, where it’s undetectable to human senses.
To raise awareness of radon, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) designated January as Radon Action Month in 1999. In addition to raising radon awareness, this month of action is meant to encourage people to get their homes and work spaces tested for radon.
Although 2013 and 2014 saw record rates of radon mitigation and radon-resistant construction techniques in new homes, the EPA estimates that elevated radon is still present in one in 15 American homes. In an effort to raise radon awareness, and to encourage people to get their homes and buildings tested, the American Lung Association, the EPA, and twelve other groups penned the National Radon Action Plan in late 2015. This plan aims to save 3,200 lives a year by 2020.
How Does Radon Enter a Building?
Radon can enter homes and buildings through cracks in solid floors, construction joints, wall cracks and cavities, gaps in suspended floors, gaps around service pipes, and even through the water supply.
A number of circumstances can change the soil and make your home vulnerable to radon exposure. Renovations, moving your bedroom to a different floor, changes in ventilation, the normal settling of the ground beneath the building, or even an earthquake can cause radon to enter your dwelling, and retesting can answer those questions.
First Line of Defense: Radon Testing
Many people encounter radon testing when buying or selling a home. However, if your home or building hasn’t been tested for two to three years, it could be time to buy a radon testing kit, as recommended by the EPA.
According to the EPA, for any “major structural renovation, such as converting an unfinished basement area into living space, it is especially important to test the area for radon before you begin the renovation. If your test results indicate a radon problem, radon-resistant techniques can be inexpensively included as part of the renovation."
You’ll want to test in this phase so you won’t need to take out newly finished pieces of your construction work to install mitigation pipes. You’ll also want to test after work is completed, ideally during different seasons to catch a variety of conditions.
Second Line of Defense: Radon Mitigation and Pipe Marking
If radon is found in a home, the most effective radon mitigation technique is the sub-slab depressurization (SSD) system. SSD prevents subsurface vapors from intruding into homes and other buildings by using a series of pipes to collect the radon before it enters the building and then funnels the gas outdoors, by use of a fan-powered vent drawing air from beneath the slab.
All exposed radon vent pipes also need to be marked with at least one label on each floor and, in homes, the labels must be seen in attics, too. Graphic Products can help pipefitters complete the SSD job by ensuring radon pipes are properly labeled as hazardous material. The label clearly marks where radon is present.
Our complimentary Guide to Pipe Marking ensures employees are informed and protected while working around hazardous materials or in areas where radon is present.
Information your Radon Label Must Clearly Communicate
True to many safety advisories, radon labels follow certain standards in their markings. The EPA requires radon labels to be legible from a minimum of three feet and to be marked with the following verbiage:
Radon Reduction System
The installer's name, phone number, and RCP Identification Number
Date of installation
An advisory that the building should be tested for radon at least every two years or as required or recommended by state or local agencies
All exposed and visible interior radon system vent piping sections must be identified with at least one label per floor that identifies the pipe as part of the radon reduction system, whether the pipes are internal or exposed. Graphic Products’ line of DuraLabel thermal transfer printers are pipe marking ready, and the DuraLabel PRO Series prints labels that can withstand harsh conditions and a range of temperatures, no matter where the pipes are.