January is National Radon Month. What is Radon?

Living “green” is about more than just energy efficiency and recycling – it’s also about giving your family a healthier home.  Breathing “greener” air means checking your home for radon, a leading indoor air problem that is the second leading cause of lung cancer.  Breathing in high levels of radon indoors can lead to lung cancer yet it is easily preventable.  A simple home radon test can tell you if you have a problem. If your home does have a high radon level, there are simple ways to reduce this radioactive gas and make your home’s air safer.

Check out this article EPA: One in 15 Homes in Virginia Have Elevated Levels of Radon

Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States.It is a colorless, tasteless, odorless radioactive gas that enters your home through cracks and crevices in the foundation.   Decomposition products attach to very small particles in the air which then can be breathed into the lungs, potentially resulting in serious health consequences. National statistics indicate that one in fifteen homes in the U.S. have unacceptable levels of radon. ANY house can contain elevated levels of radon unless there is a functioning radon system in place. It’s not a sign of a bad builder – shifting and settling happens. The only way to know whether your house has unacceptable levels of radon is to have the lowest livable space in the home tested. You may test yourself using kits that are available at home supply stores or seek professional assistance. Winter is the best time to test since doors and windows are kept closed allowing radon concentrations to reach detectable levels. If radon occurs as a result of out gassing from the soil, the most common reason, it can be readily mitigated with ventilation for roughly $1,000. Removal technology is simple and straightforward. It involves blocking points of entry into the lowest livable space in the home and venting areas to the outside using an active circulation system to exhaust basement air. Usually plastic ducting and piping are sufficient, and these low-cost materials help keep total costs low. In a few rare cases, it has been discovered that foundations were made of radioactive mine tailings or other waste materials. In these situations, the costs of radon mitigation become substantially more than $1,000.

More Articles on This Topic:U.S. Environmental Protection Agency: Indoor Air – Radon, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency: A Citizen’s Guide to Radon 

This is a Press release from the EPA

Release date: 01/05/2009

Contact Information: Bonnie Smith, 215-814-5543, smith.bonnie@epa.gov

PHILADELPHIA (January 5, 2009) – – Radon doesn’t have to be the second-leading cause of lung cancer in the United States. By testing for radon and taking any needed preventive steps you can protect yourself and your family from this health threat.
Radon comes from the natural breakdown of uranium in soil, rock, and water. It is an invisible, tasteless, radioactive gas that can become trapped indoors. When you breathe air containing radon, you are exposing yourself to the second leading cause of lung cancer. Radon is found all over the country and in any type of building including homes, offices, and schools. Because we spend most of our time indoors at this time of year, this is the best time to test our homes for radon.

While many health challenges are tough to solve and expensive, testing for radon is easy and inexpensive. For $20 you can buy a “do-it-yourself” radon test kit at a hardware store or retail outlet. Many of us had our homes tested when they were purchased, but that may have been 20 years ago. EPA recommends you get your home tested every five years, since foundations can shift over time.

If your test shows high levels of radon, confirm with another test and fix the problem. A high radon level might be lowered with a straight-forward radon venting system installed by a contractor. Mitigation costs generally run from $1,000 to $2,500. In new homes, builders can easily and economically include radon-resistant features during construction, and home buyers should ask for these. EPA also recommends that home buyers ask their builder to test for radon before they move in.

EPA estimates that one in 15 homes will have a radon level of four picocuries per liter of air or more, a level the agency considers high. Based on the national radon map, all of the mid-Atlantic states – – Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, D.C., and Delaware – – have areas with elevated radon levels.

For more information about radon contact our regional website at: http://www.epa.gov/reg3artd/Indoor/radon.htm or contact our national website at http://www.epa.gov/radon or call 1-800-SOS-RADON (767-7236).

You can also reach your state radon office on-line or by phone at:

Delaware Health and Social Services Administration at 302-739-4731
Maryland calls go to EPA Region 3 at 215-814-2086
Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection at 717-783-3594
Virginia Radiological Health Programs at 804-786-5932
Washington D.C. Department of Public Health at 202-535-2999
West Virginia Radiological Health Program at 304-558-6716

January is National Radon Action Month: http://www.epa.gov/radon/nram/public.html

If you live in a single family home or an older ground floor condo please get your home tested! Contact your local state Radon contact to find out how to obtain inexpensive test kits or to find a local radon specialist.

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Why should I buy a LEED®certified home? What is LEED®?

What is LEED®

LEED® stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. It was created and is administered by the U.S. Green Building Council, a nonprofit environmental organization with more than 14,000 member organizations dedicated to sustainability in building design and construction. The certification system has been in use for more than seven years in commercial construction, and includes Green Home Buildingmore than 3.2 Billion square feet of real estate currently seeking LEED® certification.

LEED® recognizes the highest quality in green homebuilding. LEED® promotes a whole-building approach to sustainability by recognizing performance in five key areas of human and environmental health: sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection, and indoor air quality.

Please explore case studies on a variety of LEED®-certified homes at http://www.thegreenhomeguide.org.

 

LEED®for Homes FAQs for Home Buyers

Is a green home right for me?

If you would like a healthier, more sustainable lifestyle for you and for your family, a green home is right for you. Green homes have lower utility bills, use less water, are associated with fewer asthma attacks, and are at lower risk for mold and mildew. Green homes are better for the environment, and they are affordable.

How are green homes good for the climate?

In the United States, our homes are responsible for 21% of our nation’s greenhouse gas emissions. Living in a green home means that you’re helping to stop the causes of climate change.

How will a LEED®home benefit me?

The benefits of a LEED®home include economic benefits such as lower energy and water bills; environmental benefits like reduced greenhouse gas emissions; and health benefits such as reduced exposure to mold, mildew and other indoor toxins.

LEED®-certified homes may also be eligible for financial benefits such as lower fees for financing and lower insurance rates.

How can I compare a green home to a conventional home?

Think of LEED®as a nutrition label for your home that gives you much greater confidence in specific features of your home that will contribute to your quality of life.

LEED®certified green homes include a homeowner’s manual and a LEED® “scorecard” that reflects third-party verified information about your home’s energy performance, water savings, materials used in construction, and other features.

Similar, third-party verified information is typically not available for conventionally constructed homes.

What types of homes are LEED®certified?

The LEED®for Homes certification system is tailored for the construction of market rate and affordable new single family or low-rise multi-family homes (like condos and garden apartments). Existing homes undergoing extensive renovations – down to the last studs on at least one side of each exterior wall – are also eligible to participate in the program.Green Home Building

What about remodeling projects?

USGBC and the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) have partnered to create the REGREEN Program, which are the first nationwide green residential remodeling guidelines for existing homes.

 

How can I purchase/build a LEED®home?

Tell your realtor or builder that you want a LEED®-certified home. Some markets now include whether a home is LEED®certified in MLS listings of homes for sale. If you are interested in purchasing a LEED®certified home in Georgia, please contact me. I have a list of builders participating in the program.

You can also visit http://www.thegreenhomeguide.org to find a homebuilder participating in the LEED®for Homes program in your area.

Do LEED®certified homes cost more?

LEED® certification can fit into your family’s budget regardless of what it is. LEED®certified homes include everything from luxury residences to Habitat for Humanity projects. Buying green and asking for LEED®-certification is your choice.

Are there any incentives?

Many local and state governments, utility companies and other entities across the country offer rebates, tax breaks and other incentives for green homes and for remodeling with green technologies.

Where can I find more information on green home building?

Visit http://www.thegreenhomeguide.org for comprehensive information and links to other great online resources.

If you are interested purchasing a “green” home or remodeling “green” in Georgia, please contact me. As a certified EcoBroker®, I have received additional education to promote energy-efficient, sustainable, and healthier design/features in homes and buildings. If you are a Buyer, I look at your individual situation and help you find a home that is comfortable, affordable, healthy and saves money on utility bills. If you are a Seller, I will help you identify how you can improve your home’s water and energy efficiency to appeal to today’s buyer.