What Every Building Owner Needs to Know
What is Radon and How Does It Get Into the Building?
Radon is a chemical element formed when uranium in water, rock, and soil begins to break down. This causes the release of radon gas into the dirt beneath a building. It’s heavier than air so it collects underneath concrete slabs and then seeps into the interior and is trapped inside buildings. It enters through gaps and cracks in walls and floors, spaces around pipes that enter through the foundation, furnaces, exterior air vents, and elevator shafts in high-rise buildings.
So How Serious is This, Really?
Well, on one hand, everyone is around a certain amount of radon all the time; however, in the open air it tends to dissipate very quickly. If it gets captured in a building, it is more concentrated and that’s where the problems start. Radon gas emits ionizing radiation which damages DNA and can cause cancer. It can be pretty serious, so commercial buildings should be tested regularly.
Although radon has been declared a national health problem, there are no real federal or state standards that mandate taking care of the problem. If you own a multi-family, commercial property, there may be lender requirements for radon testing. The EPA has made the following general recommendations:
- 4/pCi/L – is qualified as an “action” limit; this means fix your building now!
- 2 pCi/L – is qualified as “consider action”; it is strongly suggested to fix the building.
The EPA has not made it mandatory because of the cost involved. However, they have made it known that this is NOT safe. Their studies also show that radon is the second-leading cause of lung cancer. Over 20,000 people die each year because of this invisible radioactive gas.
How Do I Know If Radon is in My Building?
Hire a professional to do electronic radon testing. It does not take long, provides quality results, and you get the results back in just a few days. If you do have a radon issue in your building, there are several local companies who perform mitigation services.
If I Have an Issue with Radon, What’s the Next Step?
If you have a radon level anywhere near 4 pCi/L, you should take steps as soon as you can to reduce the level. The good news is that installing a removal system will vent the radon gas from beneath your building. You should always solicit the help of a certified radon mitigation service to install the removal system. They can assess the points of origin where the radon gas may be getting into your building and repair them.
How Often Should I Test My Building for Radon?
If your building has never been tested, do a test as soon as you can. Also, the first round of tests should be performed in two different heating and cooling seasons. Maybe do one in the spring and one in the fall for best results. After that, every 2 years is fine under normal circumstances.
Exceptions to this guideline may occur if you have had any major changes to the building; renovations, ventilation changes, earthquakes, and ground settling can all lead to changes in radon gas levels.
Contact Craft Commercial to Learn More
Testing for radon is fairly inexpensive, so why not make sure your building are radon free? You’ll rest and breathe easier knowing that the air in your building is safe for all occupants.
Craft Commercial highly recommends before purchasing or leasing any commercial building that you have a radon test performed. We would also suggest your contract have a contingency provision to protect you from costly repairs if radon is discovered. For questions about radon or commercial real estate in the Raleigh/Durham area, visit www.craftcommercial.com or call 919-446-5000.