Monday, July 28, 2014

Camping

Last week was our annual camping trip with my family to Maine. As always, we had a great time! This year was especially nice because the weather was excellent everyday! We had one thunderstorm on Wednesday night but other than that it was sunny and hot the whole trip. We book the perfect campsite on the water each year. Erin and I actually took the site over when Lily was born but before that my family had it for over twenty-five years.




Lily had the chance to both drive and ride in the boat for the first time. She also practiced swimming in the lake and met a few of her cousins. A few of my aunts and uncles came up to visit, my grandma, and my cousin which made the trip fun as well. It's always nice to see relatives as we don't get away from home that often. Later this week we plan to go to the White Mountains and take Lily to Storyland!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Got Radon? If you don't know test!

Over the last few weeks we've discovered that every house in the neighborhood has extreme levels of radon. One of our neighbors sold their house and the new home owners tested it for Radon. When the test came back positive word got around and most people decided to test. Our test results came back around 4.5 pCi/L. pCi/L means Pico Curies per liter. It's a unit for measuring radioactive concentrations. The curie (Ci) unit is the activity of 1 gram of pure radium-226 and Pico is a scientific notation denoting a factor of 10-12. One pCi is one trillionth of a Curie, 0.037 disintegrations per second, or 2.22 disintegrations per minute. If you have a 4 pCi/L or higher the EPA recommends you take action. Fortunately for us, our level was the lowest level in the neighborhood which is in large part due to our walkout basement. A few of our neighbors tested in around 15-18 pCi/L. To give you an idea of what that means in terms that aren't so scientific, a 4.5 (my house level) is the equivalent of smoking a half a pack of cigarettes a day. If you come in around 18 pCi/L that's the equivalent of over two packs a day.

Another fortunate for us is that we just moved into the house a few weeks ago which means we haven't been exposed very long. Many of the people in the neighborhood have lived here and have been exposed for years. Radon is a gas which you can't see or smell similar to carbon monoxide. The 
difference with Radon is that it's a radioactive gas and it's one of the leading causes of lung cancer. It comes from the natural breakdown of uranium in rocks in the ground under your house and it usually comes up from your basement. If your house was built on ledge and you have cracks in your basement floor and an enclosed basement you're usually more at risk. We had all of the above which of course led to our positive test but keep in mind these are not the only factors. You don't have to have ledge under your house to have Radon and you don't have to have cracks in your basement. These are just reasons why you could be more at risk. You could still have radon without these so it's important to check (test) if you don't know.

When we bought our house we didn't think to much of radon because a) we didn't know a lot about it and b) we hadn't been informed. To give you a few more FAQ's about it though; A family whose home has radon levels of 4 pCi/L is exposed to approximately 35 times as much radiation as the Nuclear Regulatory Commission would allow if that family was standing next to the fence of a radioactive waste site, (25 mrem limit, 800 mrem exposure). An elementary school student that spends 8 hours per day and 180 days per year in a classroom with 4 pCi/l of radon will receive nearly 10 times as much radiation as the Nuclear Regulatory Commission allows at the edge of a nuclear power plant, (25 mrem limit, 200 mrem exposure). The guy we worked with who is certified in Radon Mitigation is also certified in Asbestos removal. He explained that if you're going to buy a house and you see Asbestos in the basement your immediately going to say "oh, we need that removed." He explained that on a broad scale there are about 10,000 asbestos deaths a year in the United States compared to 22,000 caused by Radon. It came up because of the lack of understanding people have on the topic. Because you can't see or smell it, people tend to write it off where as with something like Asbestos, because it's a visible problem people tend to worry more about it.









When we found out we had it we were given a couple of options. First option was to do another test which would be a long term test consisting of three months with a test kit in the basement. Second option was to do nothing which obviously wasn't recommended and the final option was to go ahead and have a system installed to remove it from the house. I didn't need to retest. The fact we had it at all and we have a child in the house led to my decision of having a system put in. This last week, we've had a system put into the house. It is almost near completion as they just need to complete the final piece of the outside pipe. Pretty much what the mitigation system consists of is this; They drill a hole in the middle of your basement right down through the cement to the dirt. The hole looks similar to an ice fishing hole. They fit PVC piping to the hole and run the pipe through your basement and out the side of your house. On the outside of the house there is a fan which connects to a pipe that runs up to your roof to vent the Radon gas. The guy who did ours did a great job! The pipe and everything looks clean, neat, and professionally done. The fan on the outside creates a vacuum in the pipe which sucks the radon from under your house out through the vent pipe on the outside of your house. It's pretty neat how it works actually. They wire in a switch on a new breaker and put a gauge on the pipe which lets you know the system is working properly. The amount of energy it uses is less than that of a light bulb and the systems are 99% effective. The final part of the install is going around your basement and sealing all of the cracks.

The reason I write this post today is because I want to inform you about Radon! If you don't know if it's in your house, test for it! Test kits are really cheap at your local hardware store and sometimes you can even get them free from your state. We did the 48 hour test which is quick and you can usually pick this up from someone who works in mitigation or your local hardware store. The free tests from the state are usually a more long term test and are sometimes considered more accurate. My view is this; if you have it you have it. I don't care how accurate it is in terms of what level you have it but that's just me. Mitigation systems don't cost a lot of money either. We paid about $1,800 to have ours installed and it's probably the best $1,800 we've ever spent. If you have kids and care about your own health, test for it. It could save a life.
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This blog raises money for various charitable organizations through the leeib In The Community program. The program works to give back to the community by reaching out through community involvement, charitable events, various fundraisers and programs aimed at giving. In the past, to reach my goals, I've hosted several giveaways and donated a percentage of my sponsor proceeds to various charitable organizations. In the future, with the help of the members of Nathan's Team, the program will build on previous success by helping the community right now. Nathan's Team encourages members to get involved right away— to provide service to those in need today. Continued service will spread awareness about the program and the causes to which we donate.
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