Radon is a colorless, odorless gas that occurs naturally, both indoors and outdoors, and can be found in homes, schools, offices and any other type of building. While radon exposure has only one known health effect on human beings, it is a devastating one: radon can cause lung cancer. According to estimates, radon contributes to more than 20,000 lung cancer deaths a year in the U.S. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has designated January as National Radon Action Month.
Technical standards play a key role in contributing to the technology behind radon mitigation. ASTM International Committee E06 on Performance of Buildings has approved two standards, under the jurisdiction of Subcommittee E06.41 on Air Leakage and Ventilation Performance:
• ASTM E1465, Practice for Radon Control Options for the Design and Construction of New Low-Rise Residential Buildings
• ASTM E2121, Practice for Installing Radon Mitigation Systems in Existing Low-Rise Residential Buildings
ASTM E1465, originally approved in 1992, covers the design and construction of two radon control options for use in new low-rise residential buildings. These systems, which are fan-powered, are designed to reduce elevated indoor radon levels. The practice provides design details and construction methods for built-in soil depressurization radon reduction systems to be installed in homes in any geographic area.
Each of the options covered by E1465 is a pipe route system. The first is appropriate for a fan-powered radon reduction system, while the second option is for a pipe route appropriate for passively operation radon reduction system, which can provide radon reductions of up to 50%. The standard suggests that when radon test results for a building with a passive system are not acceptable, the system should be converted to a fan-powered operation.
ASTM E2121 was first approved in 2001 and describes methods for reducing radon entry into existing attached and detached residential buildings three stories or less in height. The U.S. EPA first cited E2121 in 2003 as “a national consensus standard appropriate for reducing radon in homes as far as practicable below the national action level of 4 picocuries per liter in indoor air.” Since 2006, EPA has provided a single free printed copy of E2121 upon request from the EPA National Service Center for Environmental Publications.
• When requesting bids for radon mitigation, homeowners can specify that any proposed radon system must comply with ASTM E2121.
• ASTM E2121 provides rules for radon mitigation contractors when installing systems. This simplifies bidding since all contractors will be bidding on the same requirements.
• State radon regulators can adopt the standard to save the cost of developing and defending their own standard.
• State radon program managers who work in non-regulatory states can use the practice as guidance and for mitigation system recommendations.
Subcommittee E06.41 is always interested in participation in its standards developing activities, particularly from those who have knowledge of construction methods used in low rise residential construction.
Visit www.epa.gov/radon for further information on National Radon Action Month.
January 2, 2014