Technical Papers

High Radon Levels in New Hampshire

Thursday, July 21st, 2022 by Niles Erickson

Over the past decade, radon awareness has increased throughout New Hampshire communities.  And this is a good thing. According to the EPA, radon is the leading cause of non-smoking related lung cancer in the United States, and smokers living in high radon homes are at greater risk of lung cancer.  We can gather from this statement that radon is harmful. It also raises several important questions;

  1. Are NH homeowners really at risk?
  2. How can radon be detected?
  3. How can radon be removed or mitigated?

Radon levels in New Hampshire

So, are we really at risk here in New Hampshire? Based off data gathered by the New Hampshire Environmental Public Health Tracking Program, "potential exposure to radon in New Hampshire is greater than the national average. In the U.S., the average level of indoor radon is 1.25 picocuries per liter (pCi/L) but here in NH, it is estimated to be 1.8 pCi/L." You can learn more about this and view the data here; https://www.nh.gov/epht/environmental-topics/radon.htm

 

Exposure to radon over long periods of time can be harmful. But it also depends on how much radon. The EPA has established 4.0 pCi/L as the level at which action should be taken to reduce radon to under 2.0 pCi/L. 

 

While the average level of indoor radon in NH is below this 4.0 benchmark, there are still a good number of homes with levels at or higher than this amount. 

 

What's the easiest way to determine if a home has high levels of radon?

These days it is quite simple to obtain an accurate reading and determine if the radon levels within a home are high or not.

First, there are easily accessible DIY test kits. These can be purchased at most home improvement or hardware stores, and are charcoal tests. The instructions explain how to set up the test, how long to leave the test in place, and how to send the charcoal pieces in the mail to an independent lab to analyze the charcoal and generate the results. Essentially, the charcoal absorbs the radon particles from the air and the lab is able to determine a fairly accurate pCi/L level. They will send you the results in the mail or via email, and also recommend companies in your area who specialize in radon mitigation (if needed).

 

The other kind of radon test is completed with a device called a continuous radon monitor, or CRM. Most contractors or companies offering CRM testing will charge a small fee for their services. The device itself is expensive and they are also required to spend time to set it up, pick it up, and print the results. The benefit though is the results are available within 48-72 hours, whereas with the DIY test kit it could takes weeks to receive the results. 

 

Both of these radon testing methods are readily available in New Hampshire.

How can New Hampshire residents lower the radon levels in their home's?

For New Hampshire residents who find they have high levels of radon in their homes, fortunately it is possible to lower these levels with proper radon mitigation. 

The first step is to contact a local contractor for a free inspection and estimate. Homeowners should be cautious of any contractor who provides a verbal quote over the phone or even a written quote prior to properly inspecting the property. Many factors determine the best solution, products, and design for an effective radon mitigation system. Such factors may be;

 

1. Subfloor air flow 

  • how is the air from beneath your basement floor entering the home?
  • some sections of soil beneath your home will be more compact than others, which effects where air enters the home.
  • during a proper inspection and installation, the air flow should be tested to determine the best location for the extraction point.

2. Types of radon mitigation fans

  • depending on the air flow, the strength of the fan required can also be determined.

3. System location

  • Most homeowners wish to have their radon mitigation system installed in an inconspicuous location, usually at the back of the house.
  • Any quote you receive over the phone will most likely be higher than anticipated, as it's impossible to determine the amount of pipe material required to properly vent out the radon. Once on site, the contractor will raise his price as he confirms how much material is actually needed.
  • Most new construction homes have passive radon systems already installed. This means their is a pipe and vent that leads from the basement floor up through to the roof somewhere in the home. To activate the system, a fan needs to be spliced into the existing pipe. In some cases, the passive system is not located properly and a new system may need to be installed.

 

If you are a homeowner in New Hampshire and have any questions regarding radon mitigation testing or installation of mitigation systems, we encourage you to contact our experts here at Erickson Foundation Solutions. We are certified through the National Radon Proficiency Program and have installed thousands of radon mitigation systems throughout New Hampshire and Massachusetts.

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Our Locations:

Erickson Foundation Solutions
14 Clement Rd
Hudson, NH 03051
1-603-263-4404
Erickson Foundation Solutions Service Area