SWAT Environmental

Radon is a naturally produced radioactive gas that can enter your home at any time. It increases the risk of developing lung cancer when people are exposed to high concentrations over the course of months or years. Fortunately, SWAT Environmental specializes in radon mitigation and testing for residential and commercial properties. They can use advanced tools and techniques to lower radioactive gas levels. You need to know how SWAT Environmental can handle radon problems in your home or business. Radon testing is the first step your home inspector SWAT Environmental will take. This process can be done quickly at first to determine if you have an immediate problem and require radon remediation. A longer radon testing process will provide results that are more accurate, if time permits. Testing will show just how serious the problem is in your home. When results above 2.7pCi/L, you should strongly consider a radon mitigation system from S.W.A.T. Results below a specific threshold show that radon abatement might not be required at the moment. However, many citizens choose to have the radon mitigation system installed even when the readings are marginal since the units not only reduce radon levels, but also improve overall air quality within the dwelling.


Thursday, March 26, 2015

Radon Levels in Caves Could be Hazardous

Radon Levels in Caves

Uranium can be detected on earth as far back as six billion years ago. While it is one of the heaviest metals its structure does not allow it to penetrate the earth's crust, so it remains on the surface. Radon naturally occurs when uranium decays and turns into an odorless and colorless gas that is released into the air. Radon is one of the heaviest metals that remain a gas under normal environmental circumstances. Naturally-occurring radiation is responsible for over 50% of the earth’s heat, even though it is crucial in providing a large proportion of the world’s electricity, it does have fatal side effects. 


Normally, radon levels in natural environments, such as caves, are very low because the gas escapes into the air. This process is inhibited when the radon is trapped inside of caves, allowing levels to rise to a dangerous point. Because they are rich in uranium ore, caves are littered with fragmented pockets that disperse this gas and raising radon to deadly levels. When caves are located near silicic volcanic rocks or areas frequented by earthquakes, they have naturally occurring higher levels of radon gas. 

With a lack of ventilation, long term exposure to high levels of radon in caves can be deadly. This health hazard was discovered in the 1940’s and 50’s during peak production times in mines, not only with uranium but other hard rock materials as well. These miners had significantly higher incidences of lung cancer deaths which led to improved ventilation in the mines in an attempt at lowering radon gas levels. Many countries have done studies to determine the possible health hazards of exposure to high levels of radon in caves. The U.S. participated in these tests due to concern for some of the highest levels of radon occurring through the middle and upper parts of Northern America. 

Collection of data was done over a period of a year to determine how weather factors into changing levels of radon in caves. Scientists recorded daily and seasonal climatic changes and their effects on the radon levels inside the caves. What they found was that levels were lower in winter and higher in summer, suggesting that higher temperatures did not allow radon gas to dissipate quickly. The results also indicated that winds also play a role in lowering radon gas levels. In the summer when there is little circulation in the air, the temperature inside the caves is uniform. During the winter when the air blows directly into the caves it lowers the temperature inside thereby, lowering radon levels. This natural ventilation also occurs during heavy rainfall periods.

During these experiments, various techniques were used to collect radon gas; from simple cups with filters to sputum collection from national park employees. In addition, they tested caves with large bat populations because these areas are known to have low to medium levels of radon. In the end, the results were the same - although somewhat inconclusive. As the studies done decades ago had indicated, long term exposure to radon in caves is detrimental to one’s health. However the fluctuating seasonal data for short term excursion into caves had too many factors to determine an exact impact this, in part, is due to the fact that radon has a half life of only 4 days.

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