According to the galwaydaily.com, the National University of Ireland in Galway is looking for 100 people to participate in a study concerning indoor air quality. A team of physicists is investigating whether higher standards of energy efficiency can have an adverse effect on indoor air quality, including radon levels.
Is your tightly sealed home causing the indoor radon level to rise? I spoke with Harry Grafton about this topic. In addition to teaching radon measurement courses here at the Eastern Regional Radon Training Center at Rutgers University, he also owns a company called Environmental Consultations. Indoor air quality is his business.
Harry said, “It depends on how the home brings in outside air. How much is being brought in from above ground, and how much is being brought in from below ground? In the past, most energy efficiency efforts have centered on sealing air leakage from above ground without dealing with pressure differences in the building. If the lowest level is under negative pressure with respect to the soil, you’ll often end up with more air coming in from below ground… The problem comes when other gases are in soil air. Radon is certainly one pollutant that is in soil air…”
So air pressure is a big factor, and if you make changes that cause the air pressure on your lowest level to be lower than the pressure below the house, you might end up sucking soil air into the home–soil air that contains radon.
Since many of the practices that contribute to greater energy efficiency in a home can also change the air pressure, it’s probably a good idea to check the radon levels whenever a change is made, especially if it involves new windows, doors, vents, air conditioning, heating systems, exhaust fans, clothes dryers, etc.
If you find your radon levels rising, Harry says you can often fix the problem by “bringing air in from the outside in a controlled fashion.” This involves installing a duct that will allow the home to suck air from outside the house rather than from the soil.