Radon

Improve Your Indoor Air Quality with These Simple Tips

When it comes to protecting your family’s health, we all want to take it seriously. However, the Environmental Protection Agency has news that may surprise you –the air quality in your house can be more contaminated than the air outside, even in big cities where there is more pollution!

Studies show that most Americans spend nearly 90% of their lives indoors. While you’re there, do you want to be breathing in air that’s just as dirty as the air outside? Of course not! It’s your home, it’s your air quality, it’s your lungs.

But don’t fret as there are steps that you can take to improve the air quality within your home.

Knowing Your Invisible Enemies

The first step to improving the air quality in your home is to determine what pollutants are causing potential serious damage to your health. The Environmental Protection Agency says these indoor pollutants can be classified into three categories:

  1. Combustion Pollutants: Common combustion pollutants include carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide. These colorless and odorless gases originate from burning objects that are incorrectly vented or not vented at all. The type and number of pollutants created depends on the installation, maintenance, and ventilation of the appliance, as well as the type of fuel it utilizes.
  2. Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC): These organic chemicals disseminate as gases that came from particular solid or liquid materials which most likely are the household products you often use.
  3. Triggers to Asthma and Other Allergies: You may not know it, but your home may be host to a culture of dust mites on your blankets, pillows, or stuffed toys, mold on shower curtains, and cat or dog hair all over floors or upholstery which can trigger nasty allergy or complications due to asthma.

Limit Your Exposure

Now that you know your invisible enemies, it is time that you drastically cut down your exposure to it.

  • Let fresh air come inside and ventilate your home by opening your windows as often as possible.
  • Change or clean air filters regularly –especially the ones from your air purifier, furnace or heater, vacuum, and air conditioner.
  • Humidity levels are important in controlling the growth of mold and mildew. Set up your home’s humidity level to an ideal 45%. A humidity level below 30% is too dry while over 50% can make your home too moist making it an open breeding ground for molds. You may want to use a humidifier or a room vaporizer to increase the humidity in your home. To decrease it, open your windows, use your fan, dehumidifier, or air conditioner.
  • Go natural with DIY air fresheners and avoid synthetic ones that emit damaging chemicals or hormone disruptors.
  • Use a HEPA air purifier that doesn’t generate ozone and eliminates VOCs from furniture, paint, or cleaning materials.
  • Go green by planting green plants in your home, particularly those from a list supplied by your friends at NASA. These can help lessen VOCs and enhance the air quality of your home.
  • Set a regular grooming schedule for your pets.
  • When painting your home, only use the kind that has low or no VOC and always pick non-toxic adhesive, finishes, and varnishes as much as possible

Be Clean, Be Smart.

To improve the air quality in your home, how you clean and what you use to clean really matters.

Reduce Dust and Pollutants

A high-performance vacuum with powerful suction, HEPA filters, and rotating brushes can be a very good investment as it catches tiny particles that regular vacuums often miss. Do this once a week and make sure to regularly wash or change your vacuum filter. If you don’t have time for regular vacuuming, consider an automatic vacuum that does the job for you.

Use a damp cloth to wipe the tops of window frames, doors, and sills, and wash your curtains often. You may buy a reusable microfiber dust mop to reach nooks and crannies that vacuum could not.

Use quality mattress, pillow, and box spring covers that are dust-mite-proof.

And to prevent against the growth of mold, of which spores can be toxic, use environmentally-friendly materials when cleaning your shower and regrout your tiles if needed.

Stop Using Aerosols

The use of aerosols has long been believed to harm the environment, as well, and it does. Most fragranced products are derived from petroleum products which are non-renewable, polluting resources.

Products such as air freshener, deodorant spray, furniture polish, hair spray and carpet cleaner all contain artificial fragrances that often contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that are considered toxic or hazardous. And all the product label has to state is that the product contains “fragrances,” so you’ll never know when there is actually a deadly chemical hidden in there.

Releasing them into the air causes an irreversible negative effect on the environment.

So what can you do? Stop using aerosol products. Opt, again, for homemade products to replace them using all-natural ingredients, or choose fragrance-free products.

 Let the Outdoors In

Open a window in your house! Letting in some fresh air will not only combat the potentially deadly pollutants that have been emitted into the air in your home unknowingly, but it can be a natural way to cool your home during warmer months, too.

Depending on where you live (cities and highly populated areas tend to have poorer air quality than the suburbs and open country spaces), the air quality outside may actually be better than that inside your home. The fresh air can help clear out the polluted air that you’re breathing indoors.

And if it tends to heat up quickly in your home, instead of turning on the air conditioning immediately when it warms up outside, try opening the windows for a natural breeze to flow throughout your home to cool it off. You’ll save tons of energy this way and it’s really an effective cooling technique (assuming you get a good air flow). Check out the Quiet Cool Whole House Fans for AC alternatives to cooling and fresh air options

Decorate With Plants

Just as plants outside filter the air we breathe, indoor plants can help improve the air quality within your home, as well.

Decorate using strategically placed air-filtering house plants throughout your home. They have capabilities of filtering out any pollutants that may be in the air in your home and return to you clean, breathable air.

House plants are also said to have an effect on mood and the general feeling of overall well-being. The bottom line: plants are good for you and good for the environment on all levels, so adding them to your home will only help improve your life and the air that you breathe!

TEST FOR RADON

Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States. The EPA says that radon moves up from the ground into homes through cracks and holes in the foundation. It is estimated that one in fifteen homes in the U.S. have elevated radon levels.

The health risks from living with radon stem from breathing radioactive particles that become trapped in the lungs and can result in tissue damage, which can lead to lung cancer over a lifetime. However, not everyone exposed to higher levels of radon will develop lung cancer.

The EPA and the Surgeon General recommend indoor air quality testing for radon in all homes below the third floor

The EPA recommends taking a test as the first step. If you find that your radon level is 4 picocuries per liter (pCi/L) or greater on a regular basis then fixing your home would be the next step by adding a Radon mitigation system.

There are many proven methods to reduce the radon level in your home, and the primary way is by using a vent pipe system and fan. The cost will depend on your home, but for most, it can be fixed for about the cost of a simple home repair. Lowering radon levels requires technical knowledge and skills, and it is best to work with a contractor who has been trained to fix radon problems. Let us know if Radon has been a problem in your home.

RELY ON TRUSTED PROFESSIONALS 

Finally, For your home to be a safe haven for your family and to ensure their health, you must improve the air quality inside it! Hopefully these tips will put you on the track to a greener, healthier home , if you need help, Lion Home Service can take care of all your indoor air quality.  We service all of Northern Colorado in Fort Collins, Loveland, Greeley, Longmont, Boulder, Windsor and surrounding areas. Call us today! 970-399-9940 .

 

 

Radon

What do Radon test levels even mean?

So you’ve had a radon test, now what?  

Measuring radon levels in a home or building is key to protecting the health of anyone breathing the air, but interpreting those levels is not quite as exact without a radon test. As they say, everything is relative, and what is an acceptable radon level to one state or country may differ from what is acceptable to another. This is influenced by numerous factors including the type of rocks and soil beneath a building, ventilation and duration of time spent in the building. 

One thing remains certain: radon can cause cancer. In fact, approximately 21,000 people die from radon-related lung cancer every year in the United States. That alone should be the reason to find out if you, or your family, is being exposed to excessive levels of the dangerous gas.  Radon levels in the home need to be monitored daily as the levels fluctuate over time. So its best to test every 2 -3years and monitor any changes over time. 

The World Health Organization recommends that countries adopt reference levels of the gas of 100 Bq/m3 (Becquerel per cubic metre). If this level cannot be implemented under the prevailing country-specific conditions, WHO recommends that the reference level should not exceed 300 Bq/m3.

Radon level measurement units

Radon is generated by the radioactive decay of radium, an element which was originally discovered in 1898 by Pierre Curie, Marie Curie and G. Bemont. Radioactive elements are unstable, always in a constant struggle, deciding whether to hold onto all of their atomic energy in the nucleus or release some of it. That “decay” of the nucleus releases radiation.

One curie is equal to the radioactivity of one gram of radium, which decays at 2.2 trillion disintegrations per minute. Sounds fast, doesn’t it? It also sounds small, right? Read on.

Picocuries per liter of air, or pCi/L, which is one of the preferred measurements for the speed of decay in radon, is equal to one trillionth of a curie, abbreviated as pCi. The pCi unit is used in the United States because it is required by federal law. Just about everywhere else that uses the metric system, including the World Health Organization, measures in Becquerels.  1 pCi/L is equal to 37 Bq/m3.

The Becquerel unit, abbreviated Bq, is named after founder Henri Becquerel. The preferred radon level measurement unit is Becquerels per cubic meter, Bq/m3. One Becquerel equals one radioactive disintegration per second.

Is there a Safe radon level?

The best radon level measurement would be zero. Unfortunately, that’s not possible. The average global outdoor radon level varies between 5-15 Bq/m3, equal to 0.135-0.405 pCi/L. For every 99.9 Bq/m3, or every 2.7 pCI/L increase in long term radon exposure, lung cancer risk rises 16%. The thing to remember is that the lower the level, the lower the risk. As radon gas can accumulate indoors, it is important to monitor routinely. 

The World Health Organization states that the majority of lung cancers are caused by low to moderate radon concentrations due to the fact that a fewer number of people are exposed to very high indoor concentrations.  A concrete answer to ‘what is  a safe radon level’ is highly disputable. Zero would be the natural answer, except that radon is a naturally occurring, radioactive gas that is in the air all around us. It is unavoidable, hence the need for routine radon testing , as its colorless, odorless and invisible, only through monitoring will you be aware of the levels in the air. 

Depending on the country, acceptable radon levels vary. A generally accepted action level established by the World Health Organization, the WHO, is 100 Bq/m3, or 2.7 pCi/L. Homes or structures measuring higher are advised to take remedial action to lower radon levels. The WHO further advises an upper limit that should not be exceeded at 300 Bq/m3, or 8 pCi/L.

In the United States, the Environmental Protection Agency action level of 4 pCi/L is the standard, a little higher than that of the WHO. It is also thought that reducing levels to sub-4.0 p/Ci would cut yearly cancer deaths from radon in half.

Areas known to have high radon levels

It is important to remember that in most cases, high radon levels can be fixed easily and simply. Whether it is following easy radon reduction tips, increasing ventilation, or contacting a radon mitigator, radon gas levels can be improved dramatically. 

Radon gas occurs everywhere around the world. Escaping from the breakdown of uranium in igneous rock and underground water, radon gas seeps up to the earth’s surface. The gas is odorless, colorless, and tasteless, so it is difficult to detect.

High radon levels have been detected in every country, in just about every location on the planet. In Colorado, about half the homes have radon levels higher than the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recommended action level of 4 picoCuries per liter (pCi/L).

Airthings created radonmap.com to offer everyone the opportunity to get a sense of the radon levels in their area. It is free to use, updated daily.

It is important to remember, however, that as the gas accumulates indoors, it is necessary to ensure that an individual building or home has safe levels. The only way to know for sure is through routine radon testing. 

 

Radon

Radon season is beginning…yes, there is such a thing as “radon season”

Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas that is the leading cause of lung cancer among non-smokers, responsible for 21,000 lung cancer deaths a year. Radon can rise to dangerous levels when it becomes trapped inside your home or other buildings, often collecting in the highest amounts on the lowest levels.

Experts recommend testing for radon during the colder months because radon levels are historically found to be higher. There are many factors that affect radon levels including shifting climatic conditions, temperature, atmosphere pressure, precipitation and construction.

As the days grow shorter and colder, there are a few reasons why there is usually more radon found. The biggest factor is closing the windows to keep out the cold air. However, there are cracks in everyone’s home, no matter how much you work to seal them.  As warm air rises and escapes from the roof of your home, it creates suctions to bring in new cold air to replace it. The cold air entering our home from below also brings in radon particles. This is completely normal, but important to understand the process.

 

The fact that radon accumulates in enclosed areas and people are in their homes more during the winter, means the colder months are the best time to test.  There are a lot of variables to consider, and radon levels change substantially and often (which is again… totally normal).  Most people test for radon when they move into a house and then never again. You wouldn’t test for carbon monoxide only one time, you should be doing regular testing for radon as well.

Its recommended by the National Center of Environmental Health to test at least every 2 years, stop or discourage smoking in your home, increase air flow throughout the house, seal cracks in floors and walls. Its always best to call in a professional – especially when dealing with a carcinogen.  Give us a call for a free consultation.

Radon

Do you have lung cancer-causing gas in your home?

There could be a dangerous killer lurking in your home, and you wouldn’t even know it.

According to estimates from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, radon causes as many as 21,000 lung cancer deaths annually, second only to smoking. So what exactly is radon, and why is it such a threat to your home and your health?

Caused by the breakdown of uranium in soil, radon is a colorless, odorless gas that can seep into homes and buildings through gaps in the foundation. When radon leaks into a basement, it can pool there and permeate through the rest of the house, where it then gets unknowingly ingested and inhaled by the occupants. Exposure to high concentrations of radon over time can result in serious health problems up to and including death.

Radon is much like oil or water — you know it’s there underneath the earth’s surface, but there’s no way to tell exactly where, how deep or how big the pockets are. Here in Northern Colorado, ground disturbances due to fracking and construction can stir it up, and newer homes with well-sealed basements may actually be more at risk than older homes with cracks that allow avenues for some of the gas to escape.

 

How do you know if your home has radon?

 

Radon exists in all 50 states, and almost every home has some degree of radon in it. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment has found that approximately 50% of all Colorado homes have radon levels higher than the EPA-recommended 4 picoCuries per liter (pCi/L).  Although radon inspections are strongly recommended during home buying and selling transactions, they’re not required by law. Therefore, many people live in their homes for years without ever knowing what their radon levels are, or that they can change from year to year.

Since radon presents no obvious indications and related health issues may only appear after years of exposure, the only way to know how much is in your home is to measure it. There’s no standard guideline about how often radon levels should be checked, but it’s a good idea to take a measurement once a year.

 

What’s involved in radon testing?

 

Getting an accurate radon measurement is a fairly uncomplicated process that can be performed by a homeowner or a licensed professional. The simplest way to do it involves placing a test kit in the lowest level of the home to absorb air particles for 48 hours, then sending it to a lab to analyze the results. More sophisticated equipment can provide real-time results on the spot without lab input. Expect kit prices to run anywhere from $10 to $200.

It’s important to follow the provided instructions and place the kit in an area without drafts and away from vents, windows and doors in order to get the most accurate measurement. High heat and humidity can also throw off a radon measurement. If sections of your basement are cut off or isolated, you might want to test in several different areas.

 

My radon level’s too high. Now what?

 

While a high radon reading is a serious problem that must be addressed, the good news is it’s not hard to mitigate. If you find your home has a high concentration of radon, there are several ways you can reduce it down to an acceptable level.

Passive mitigation remedies allow radon from your basement to dissipate through a venting pipe installed under your slab or in a crawlspace. Active mitigation uses a fan to pull the interior air outside, a system that can cost between $800 and $1,500 depending on your needs. You can also install a radon monitoring device or detector to make sure the level in your home stays in a safe range.

If you need further help or advice, it never hurts to consult a certified radon mitigation specialist for assistance.

 

Radon

What is Radon?

Every winter, radon hits the headlines to raise awareness about this potentially dangerous gas. As a homeowner, you should be aware that there’s an increased risk of radon exposure in the winter. Moreover, levels continue to rise across the country every year. That’s why it’s more important than ever to get your home tested for radon.

What is Radon?,/h2>
Radon is a colorless, odorless radioactive gas. It naturally occurs in very small amounts. However, higher radon levels have been linked to lung cancer. Radon is the heaviest known gas, nine times denser than air. It can penetrate through common building materials like paper, plastic, insulation, gypsum board, paint, wood, and mortar.

Radon Facts

This gas is the United States’ second leading cause of lung cancer. Smoking increases this risk. Also, Children are more sensitive to harm from exposure, possibly because their cells divide quickly as they grow. This creates more opportunities for radon to trigger cancer. Radon naturally occurs in the ground and may seep into the home at any time. A house that’s tightly sealed against cold weather makes it difficult for radon to flow back out. Your furnace may actually contribute to the problem. It recirculates the same air throughout the house, potentially keeping radon inside.

Radon in the Home

Does your home have unsafe levels of this radioactive gas? You won’t know without having your house’s air tested. The gas is not detectable by human senses, and health problems can take years to appear. What if you do have radon in the home? Although this gas can’t be completely eliminated, there are steps to take that dramatically reduce its levels.

Test Your Radon Today

Lion Home Service is a cut above the rest. We are one of the industry’s leaders in HVAC and proudly serve the Fort Collins, Colorado area. Our service experts undergo extensive training to maintain our company’s high standards. Contact us today! We also offer furnace installation, maintenance, and repair services.