Radon Resistant New Construction
Installing a radon system during construction prepares the home for increased radon removal. If high radon levels are found after occupancy, a fan can be readily installed.
There are good reasons to install a radon system during construction:
- There is no reliable way to test the ground in advance for radon.
- The average residential radon level in Pennsylvania is 7-8 picocuries per liter (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Action Level is 4 picocuries per liter).
- The cost of installing the radon system during construction should be less than installing one after the fact.
- Building the radon system internally should keep aesthetics of the home intact. If radon is not addressed during construction, an outside radon system may be required if the radon test comes back greater than 4 picocuries per liter.
Building Code Requirements
The statewide building code does not require radon-resistant new construction. However, local municipalities may have adopted this portion of the building code.
These two recently released videos discuss the dangers of the naturally occurring radioactive gas and how to mitigate it during new construction. The videos are primarily geared to homebuilders. Dr. Paul Houle, a retired physics professor with East Stroudsburg University, narrates both videos.
first video (25 minutes in length) in the series explores why homebuilders should incorporate radon-resistant new-construction techniques. The video reviews the health risks of exposure to radon, the prevalence of high radon levels in Pennsylvania, and the various agencies that support radon awareness and prevention. It also covers the basics for installing the construction techniques and the advantages for builders to incorporate them into their business.
second video (46 minutes in length) goes into greater detail in incorporating the construction features and how doing so can lead to safer indoor air quality. Dr. Houle discusses the national standards and covers the main components of the radon-resistant new-construction techniques. Finally, the video stresses why homeowners should conduct radon testing after they move into a structure.
Although the work is straight forward, there are many pitfalls to avoid. A builder doing this work should carefully look over the available material and gain the necessary knowledge. Hiring a Pennsylvania certified mitigator during construction is not required but would certainly be beneficial. Any person performing radon work after the home's occupancy requires Pennsylvania certification. The Department of Environmental Protection certifies radon mitigators in Pennsylvania.
Radon testing is recommended shortly after occupancy to determine if the system is to be activated with a fan.