Indoor Air Quality and Radon

Radon, The Invisible Intruder, effecting our indoor air quality can be lethal effecting an estimated 20,000 people per year. Ranked #2, and a known leading cause of Lung Cancer in the United States. There are many causes for alarm that can be related to our indoor air quality and this disease to include much tighter surroundings within our own indoor living environments.

As we spend up to 90% of our time indoors, the air we breathe, as much as 200,000 liters per day, can be related to our indoor air quality and contains microbiological and solid airborne submicroscopic particulates that can be dangerous and very harmful to our immune system especially in young infants.

How Radon Enter A House

Over 90% of these harmful particulates are less in size than .03 microns. One micron is 100 times less than a human hair follicle. Most filters generally capture less than 10% its required rate of filtration and are very restrictive to air flow, which can therefore increase energy costs and reduce heating and cooling performance. Penetration into structures from cracks, non-existent moisture barriers and weakened foundations may increase the risk of radon and affecting our indoor air quality.

This poisonous gas is now the leading cause of lung cancer in the United States. Second-Hand smoke can also cause severe respiratory problems and kills over 50,000 people every year. There are over 2,000 known chemicals and 200 toxins including carbon monoxide.

Heat Recovery Ventilators and Energy Recovery Ventilators are complete whole house ventilation systems that incorporate a supply motor and an exhaust motor in one unit. The supply motor draws fresh air in from the outside and the exhaust motor pushes stale contaminated air out. The two air steams are separated by a heat/ energy recovery core which tempers the air making it the most comfortable solution for a healthy indoor environment.

Radon Reduction

A heat recovery ventilator, or HRV, also called an air-to-air heat exchanger, can be installed to increase ventilation which will help reduce the radon levels in your home. An HRV will increase ventilation by introducing outdoor air while using the heated or cooled air being exhausted to warm or cool the incoming air. HRVs can be designed to ventilate all or part of your home, although they are more effective in reducing radon levels when used to ventilate only the basement. If properly balanced and maintained, they ensure a constant degree of ventilation throughout the year. HRVs also can improve air quality in homes that have other indoor pollutants. There could be significant increase in the heating and cooling costs with an HRV, but not as great as ventilation without heat recovery.

The filter in an HRV requires periodic cleaning and should be changed twice a year. Replacement filters for an HRV are easily changed and are priced between $10 and $25. Ask your contractor where filters can be purchased. Also, the vent that brings fresh air in from the outside needs to be inspected for leaves and debris. The ventilator should be checked annually by a Minnesota heating, ventilating, and air conditioning professional to make sure the air flow remains properly balanced. HRVs used for radon control should run all the time.

The MDH recommends that all Minnesota homeowners test their homes for radon. The results of a properly performed radon test will help homeowners determine for themselves if they need to take further action to protect their family from the health risks of radon in the home.

Are Radon Levels Regulated?

In Minnesota, radon levels in new construction are regulated. However, levels in existing homes are not regulated. It is up to the homeowner or home buyer to decide what amount of radon is an acceptable risk for your family.

If you have already tested for radon, we congratulate you. And we encourage others to do the test. If it’s time to install an air exchanger, to both ensure the health of your family, contact an experienced MN Cooling, Ventilation & Heating Contractor.

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