Radon Testing in Large Facilities

By Chad Siems

Radon Testing in Large Facilities
Radon is a colorless, odorless, tasteless gas that comes from the natural breakdown of uranium which is found in soil and rock all over the US. Radon travels through cracks and holes in foundations and becomes concentrated in office buildings, education facilities, daycare facilities – anywhere people routinely spend a large portion of their day. Many schools and large facilities are constructed on adjoining floor slabs which permit radon gas to enter between slabs. Other examples that provide areas for radon to enter indoor spaces include basements, crawl spaces, and utility tunnels.

An indoor threshold for radon is set by the EPA, but many mid-western states, including Iowa, have much higher levels due to the states’ glacial history. While radon testing isn’t required in some states many facility managers/owners are being proactive in making sure the environment is healthy for those who occupy their buildings. To help those wanting to test for radon, the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and the American Association of Radon Scientists and Technologists (AARST) released guidelines for radon sampling in schools and large buildings in 2014.

Testing is the only way to determine whether radon concentration is above the action level. Measuring levels of radon gas is relatively easy and an inexpensive process compared to other important building upkeep activities. Each frequently occupied room that is in contact with the ground should be measured because adjacent rooms can have significantly different levels of radon. EPA has published guidance that is available free throughout the country. The basic elements of testing are:.

  • Test all frequently used rooms on and below the ground level;
  • Conduct tests in the cooler months of the year; and
  • Follow this testing strategy:
    • Step 1: Initial testing – take short-term tests.
    • Step 2: Follow-up testing:
      • Take a second short-term test in rooms where the initial level is 4 pCi/L or higher.
      • Take a long-term test in these rooms for a better understanding of the average radon level.
    • Step 3: Take action to reduce levels if the average of the initial and short-term follow-up test is 4 pCi/L or greater or the result of the long-term test is 4 pCi/L or greater.
Chad Siems, CMC, CIEC, Environmental Specialist   There’s never a dull moment where you’re an Environmental Specialist. I help my clients resolve a variety of building issues including indoor air quality, asbestos, methamphetamine contamination (e.g. former meth houses/labs), sick buildings, mold, radon and lead-based paints. These problems arise during renovation, remodels and new construction. Each situation is unique and requires a timely solution. I enjoy the challenge and reward of designing creative environmental solutions that meet my clients’ specific needs and schedule.

Because these building issues have the potential to impact a number of people and their health, it’s important that I am accessible, regardless of the time of day or week, to answer questions or aide in the completion of a project. I like being there for my clients because it helps and reassures them.

Chad Siems, CMC, CIEC, Environmental Specialist
800.798.3040 | csiems@shive-hattery.com

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