Tag Archives: dallas

Residential Radon Gas Testing – Mold and Indoor Air Quality Inspection by ScanTech Technical Consulting

Radon is one of the leading causes of lung cancer

Radon is one of the leading causes of lung cancer in the United States

In a rush to test your home for radon gas or radioactivity in natural stone such as granite or marble? Did you know that radon is the 2nd leading cause of lung cancer? (Smoking is 1st and radon gas synergistically increases mortality rates for smokers)

While it is not well known, radon gas levels EXCEED EPA action limits of 4 picoCuries/liter (pCi/L) in up to 10 % of all homes in Dallas county with an additional 14 % falling into the marginal range of 2 – 4 pCi/L. This means that 1 out of 4 homes (10 % + 14 % = 24%) in Dallas either have a radon issue or fall into a caution category. Other counties, such as Tarrant, Collin and Denton are not immune either. (see the link below on Radon FAQ from ScanTech for more details)

Example areas of the Metroplex (not a complete or comprehensive list) which have been found by ScanTech testing to have excess radon levels which are statistically higher than the 24 % quoted above include:

  • North Dallas and Far North Dallas
  • Lake Highlands
  • University Park
  • Highland Park
  • Park Cities area
  • Richardson
  • Arlington

ScanTech now has the capability to test and get results within as little as 24 hours of initial deployment using a high quality digital tester in case your option period is about to expire.

Our services are both faster and cheaper than competing methods or companies and we have been performing radon testing for homeowners in the DFW area for over 10 years.

Testing is performed by an engineering graduate experienced in radioactivity measurements,  indoor air quality testing including mold inspection, formaldehyde and radon gas testing.

AARST NRPP National Radon Testing Professional Certified

AARST-NRPP Nationally Certified Radon Residential Measurement Provider ID # 108991 RT*

*Meets HUD, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and GSA requirements

Mold Assessment Consultant – Texas Dept. of Health Service License # MAC1387

(Activated charcoal short term radon test kits are accurate as well, but typically require at least 4 business days to get results under best case conditions and a complete kit deployment and pickup service is almost always more expensive due to the additional travel)

Call / text to 214.912.4691 – please include physical address, square footage property and email

More information is available here:

RADON FAQ Dallas /Fort Worth — DFW North Texas Area

http://www.indoorairqualitytestingdallas.com/

http://www.scantech7.com/formaldehyde-indoor-air-quality-testing-services-dallas-fort-worth/

Radon Deaths United States Annually

Annual Radon Deaths Updated Chart

Cities for radon / air quality inspection services include: Dallas, Austin, Houston, San Antonio, Spring, The Woodlands, Round Rock, Plano, Highland Park, University Park, Park Cities, Arlington, Fort Worth, Grapevine, Frisco, Denton, McKinney, Allen, Lewisville, Irving, Mesquite, Bedford, Euless, Richardson, Coppell, Grand Prairie, Garland, Addison, Farmers Branch, Rockwall, Carrollton, Parker, Rowlett, Lucas, Fairview, Park Cities, Keller, Roanoke, The Colony, Highland Village, Lake Dallas, Corinth, Prosper, Duncanville, Lancaster, Rowlett, Royse City, Trophy Club, Southlake and Hurst. Counties served include Dallas, Collin, Denton, Tarrant and Rockwall County.

 

Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) Testing Services (including chemicals / carcinogens like Formaldehyde) Available – Fast Onsite Results!

Formaldehyde NFPA Diamond from MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheet)

Formaldehyde NFPA Diamond from MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheet)

ScanTech Technical Consulting performs indoor air quality tests including particulate matter in the air (residential and commercial) in the 0.5 – 2.5 micron and 2.5 micron + range  (PM 2.5 and PM10) in order to evaluate how clean your air is with respect to dust and other fine particles. We also offer formaldehyde and VOC levels testing due to chemicals used in the manufacture of pressed wood flooring, lumber, laminates, glues and other adhesives in your home and factory/office.

More information on formaldehyde can be found here:

http://emfsurveydallas.com/formaldehyde-indoor-air-pollutant-and-testing/

We can also test for VOCs, (Volatile Organic Compounds) CO2 (Carbon Dioxide) levels and O2 oxygen levels in your home to check ventilation quality. Datalogging over time available to show trends and measure the effects of HEPA filtration and electrostatic air ionization units.

Our background in organic and environmental chemistry, epidemiology, advanced microbiology, medical geology  and human physiology makes us uniquely qualified to answer your concerns regarding the invisible environment you breathe every day.

July 2016 ruling by the EPA on the emissions of formaldehyde of wood products produced or imported into the United States:

https://www.epa.gov/formaldehyde/formaldehyde-emission-standards-composite-wood-products-0#additional-resources

The following tables and information are from:

Health Effects Notebook for Hazardous Air Pollutants

To convert concentrations in air (at 25°C) from ppm to mg/m3: mg/m3 = (ppm) × (molecular weight of the compound)/(24.45) For formaldehyde which is CH20: 1 ppm = 1.23 mg/m3.

Explanation of Formaldehyde Levels

Formaldehyde Regulatory and Health Levels Comparison

Formaldehyde Regulatory & Health Levels Comparison

AIHA ERPG–American Industrial Hygiene Association’s emergency response planning guidelines. ERPG 1 is the maximum airborne concentration below which it is believed nearly all individuals could be exposed up to one hour without experiencing other than mild transient adverse health effects or perceiving a clearly defined objectionable odor; ERPG 2 is the maximum airborne concentration below which it is believed nearly all individuals could be exposed up to one hour without experiencing or developing irreversible or other serious health effects that could impair their abilities to take protective action.

ACGIH STEL–American Conference of Governmental and Industrial Hygienists’ short-term exposure limit expressed as a time-weighted average exposure; the concentration of a substance which should not be exceeded at any time during a workday.

LC50 (Lethal Concentration50)–A calculated concentration of a chemical in air to which exposure for a specific length of time is expected to cause death in 50% of a defined experimental animal population.

NIOSH IDLH–National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health’s immediately dangerous to life or health limit; NIOSH recommended exposure limit to ensure that a worker can escape from an exposure condition that is likely to cause death or immediate or delayed permanent adverse health effects or prevent escape from the environment.

NIOSH REL–NIOSH’s recommended exposure limit; NIOSH recommended exposure limit for an 8- or 10-h time-weighted average exposure and/or ceiling.

OSHA PEL–Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s permissible exposure limit expressed as a time-weighted average; the concentration of a substance to which most workers can be exposed without adverse effect averaged over a normal 8-h workday or a 40-h workweek.

 

Entry Routes and Factors Affecting Indoor Radon Levels in Homes

Many people wonder how radon gas levels could be present in Dallas / Fort Worth Metroplex DFW area – how does it get inside your home and affect your health and safety?

The fact is that all parts of the Earth, regardless of geography, have some level of background radiation due to nuclear disintegrations of naturally occurring radionuclides (radioactive isotopes) including uranium in the soil, water and air. On average, rocks contain only about 1-3 ppm of uranium, though some species have as much as 100 ppm. These are typically metamorphic minerals such as granite, black shale, schist, gneiss, phosphorites, some sedimentary rock (including limestone in some cases) with a high phosphate content and metamorphic rocks derived from these rocks.

On average worldwide, the radioactive concentration of U-238, Thorium-232 and Radium-226 are ~0.65 pCi (picoCuries) per gram though this can vary significantly in very localized areas.

Radon geology home construction

Radon Intrusion Paths into Home

The major source of indoor radon is soil gas transported by pressure-induced convective flows (as shown in the illustrations) with potential entry points marked. Radon transport is enhanced when the base of the building is under significant negative pressure. Homes built on soils with higher radon release (based on soil type, porosity, pore volume, water content, etc.) and convection based transport are typically more sensitive to atmospheric factors such as temperature, wind and barometric pressure. Radon movement through soil can also occur through diffusion or both diffusion and convection.

Homes built on soils with a higher clay content (as opposed to those with sandy / gravelly soils) tend to have lower radon gas levels, but there may be trade-offs with higher moisture levels which can give rise to issues with mold, dust mites and general structural deterioration.

What are the major entry routes into your home?

1) Cracks in concrete slabs

2) Spaces behind brick veneer walls that rest on uncapped hollow-block foundations.

3) Pores and cracks in concrete blocks.

4) Floor wall joints.

5) Exposed soil as a sump.

6) Drain tile, if drained to an open sump.

7) Mortar joints.

8) Loose fitting pipe penetrations.

9) Building materials including some rocks and other decorative stones such as marble and granite.

10) Drinking / tap water.

11) Open tops of block walls.

 

Atmospheric Factors with Radon Levels in Homes

Atmospheric Factors with Radon Levels in Homes (Animated Graphic)

What factors affect indoor radon overall?

1) Low ventilation rates.

2) The nature of soil permeability. (by diffusion / convection mechanisms)

3) Construction materials used. Can be a significant factor in natural stone where Radium-226 concentrations are elevated. (exceed 1 pCi/gm or 1 picoCurie per gram) Emanation depends on radium density and material porosity.

4) Home water supply.

5) Meteorology (such as temperature, pressure and humidity) and the local geology of the environment.

6) Soil radon production rates based on radioactive material composition (most in the U.S. have base radon concentrations between 200 – 2000 pCi/L)

7) Cracks and fissures in the underlying geology

8) Building substructure (slab on grade, pier and beam, basement, etc.)

EPA Working to Make the Public Aware of Radon Gas Risk in Homes – North Texas News Story

A local Texas story about radon wherein a local Dallas woman found twice the EPA action limit in her home after she was told residential home testing wasn’t necessary:

A Story of Elevated Radon in Dallas – The Cancer Risks

I have personally verified a number of homes that exceeded the EPA action limit including one that had radon levels even higher than mentioned in the article.

Radon Gas Mitigation Solutions in Brief

While I do not personally perform radon mitigation, I wanted to share in brief what is generally entailed. The cost in the Dallas area for reducing radon below the EPA action limit of 4.0 pCi/l varies depending on the construction / size of the house and how high the levels are. In general, you can expect an estimate of anywhere from $2000 – $5000.

It is suggested that the solution follow the ASTM E-2121 standard for lowering radon and that information can be found in detail here:

http://www.astm.org/Standards/E2121.htm

While homes that contain excessive radon can be found in every state in the nation, many people (such as in Texas) are not aware that it is a problem, nor is testing / mitigation required by Texas law as of this writing. However it is not unusual for some relocation companies to require testing for radon gas first as a condition of a real estate purchase.

Bear in mind that radon levels do fluctuate with weather conditions and home ventilation, so before investing in a mitigation expense, it may be worth testing more than once.

The main idea behind mitigation is to ventilate the excess radon (which is heavier than air) to the outside so as to minimize impact to occupants. The method by which this is done depends on whether you have a basement (rare in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area) have a pier and beam or slab on grade foundation.

For slab foundations, sealing the interior spaces from the ground is generally not enough, and often a soil suction system is required to actively draw the radon out via a vent pipe and specialized fan. These systems are generally referred to as active soil depressurization, sub-slab depressurization or just simply soil suction.

In some cases, a heat exchanger or ERV (Energy Recovery Ventilator) can recover some of the energy lost in the process of exchanging the vented radon to the outside with fresh air.

For pier and beam foundations (houses with crawlspaces) you can cover over the base soil with a special heavy duty plastic sheet whose underside connects to a ventilation system similar to the one described above in a method known as sub-membrane suction.

Sub-membrane Suction Radon Mitigation

Sub-membrane Suction Radon Mitigation

Carbon Monoxide Safety Levels and Indoor Air Quality

An important component of indoor air quality testing is measurement of abnormal levels of carbon monoxide.

Carbon monoxide (CO) is a result from all forms of combustible sources, from smoking and wood fires to propane and fuel-powered automobiles. Poisoning of a human subject comes in two forms – short term exposure to high levels which can cause severe illness or death, or longer term exposures at lower levels which may cause chronic symptomatology.

While actual death is relatively rare, there are far more cases that occur with sub-lethal exposures over a broad range of concentrations. (30 – 100 ppm by volume or ppmv) At the lower end (40 – 60 ppmv) headache and low levels of fatigue, and at higher levels (75 – 200 ppmv) nausea, vomiting and especially sleepiness.

Symptoms with Different Blood COHb Levels

Symptoms with Different Blood COHb Levels

Carbon monoxide and oxygen both bond to hemoglobin in the blood and will compete with each other over binding sites, but CO has the advantage as it binding sites have an affinity or preference of binding with CO that is 200 times greater than O2. (atmospheric oxygen) The result is decreased oxygen carrying capacity in the blood with the consequent neurological symptoms of oxygen deprivation as listed above as well as reduced oxygen to other body tissues. It also binds to intracellular proteins such as tryptophan oxidase, cytochrome oxidase,  myoglobin, and dopamine hydroxylase which may cause extra-vascular effects.

The result of CO combining with hemoglobin is to form carboxyhemoglobin. (COHb) Exposure to CO can be evaluated by measurement of the levels of COHb in the blood which is typically less than 1% for unexposed individuals. This is the % amount of blood hemoglobin bound with carbon monoxide. Cigarette smokers typically have a level of 3% – 8%. OSHA has a permissible exposure limit (PEL) of 50 ppmv over an 8 hour time-weighted average (TWA) in which case an individual would have a COHb level of approximately 5%. At 100 ppmv, it would be over 10%.

COHb Levels Resulting from Exposure Duration

COHb Levels Resulting from Exposure Duration

Even low level carbon monoxide exposures can cause issues in compromised human subjects such as those with cardiovascular disease. The lowest level at which COHb can show as a physiological symptom is 3 %- 4 % COHb. At 6 % COHb, arrhythmia may be induced in exercising patients with coronary artery disease with a risk of sudden death. There is also evidence that suggests that carbon monoxide exposure may contribute to atherosclerosis.

Studies have shown that those with flu-like or neurological symptoms had COHb levels of 10% or greater. (24% and 3 % respectively. Sub-acute carbon monoxide poisoning commonly goes unrecognized and is not diagnosed because it mimics other conditions and is present at the residence / workplace – not the doctor’s office.

Those at higher risk include pregnant women, young children, the elderly, individuals with conditions that already compromise O2 availability, and those that use certain medications and drugs.

For a discussion of CARBON DIOXIDE poisoning which is an entirely different phenomena, see the post here:

New Homes and Carbon Dioxide Levels: The Overlooked Indoor Air Quality Health Hazard

If you live in the Dallas / Fort Worth, Houston or Austin metropolitan areas and suspect carbon monoxide / dioxide poisoning or other indoor air quality issues, then contact ScanTech Technical Consulting for an evaluation.