Digging for a high radon level solution | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Digging for a high radon level solution

Kurt Hildebrand
Tribune News Service
Kurt Hildebrand / Tribune News ServiceDenise Uber looks at the hole dug under her Minden home to help mitigate radon.

MINDEN, Nev. – Minden resident Denise Uber has been regularly testing her home for radon, a radioactive gas that’s reported to be the main cause of lung cancer among nonsmokers, since she purchased it.

But when she came back with a positive test in January she had one response.

“Fix it!” she wrote on a note attached to her test results.

Uber’s radon levels were slightly below the minimum set by the federal government until she decided to do some remodeling.

The Hearthstone home was built on a concrete slab back in 2005, and Uber said the floor caused her back problems.

“I have a chiropractor on retainer,” she said.

So she decided to pull out the carpet in her main room and replace it with a floating wood floor.

The new floor helped her back, but when she tested for radon again, the levels rose to 4 picoCuries per liter, right at the action guideline recommended by the Environmental Protection Agency.

Uber, who works for the Nevada Department of Environmental Protection, is familiar with radon and its effects. She also attended a session in January where Dependable Home Solutions’ Derrick Carpenter gave a presentation on mitigating radon.

“He was the only one giving a presentation, so I thought why not call him to fix my radon problem,” she said.

Carpenter is a certified radon mitigator, who was a stone and masonry contractor before the recession hit.

His in-laws attended a radon session at the Sheridan Volunteer Fire House in January 2009, where they learned about radon, but didn’t get much information about how to fix it.

Carpenter said Monday he has been correcting radon problems for about a year and a half.

For homes with a crawl space, he said he can get under the house and seal up holes before installing a fan that sets negative pressure under the house venting the gas, which results from the decay of uranium in the soil, up past the roof.

Radon tends to collect in closed, still spaces, and is reportedly the leading cause of lung cancer among nonsmokers.

For Uber’s home, Carpenter had to dig down past the concrete slab and then underneath where he set up the vent intake.

The fan sets negative pressure underneath the slab and sucks the radon into a downpipe that leads to the roof.

“It doesn’t take much,” he said.

Uber’s bill for the work was $1,450, not cheap, but she said it was important for her to correct the problem.

“It’s an uber-fix for radon,” she said.

Carpenter, who is the only certified radon mitigator based in Douglas County, said he has been busy until the last few weeks. Fallon Heating & Air-Conditioning based in Carson City and Sierra Radon Services in Reno are also certified Nevada firms.

Nevada’s radon education program was ranked No. 1 nationwide by the Environmental Protection Agency.

The program conducted by the Nevada State Health Division, the University of Nevada Cooperative Extension and the EPA, featured meetings such as those in Sheridan Acres that in 2009 attracted more than 300 people.

Douglas County is a hotspot for radon in the state, with some of the highest radon potential located in Stateline and Zephyr Cove. But recent testing has shown that Gardnerville has the third highest potential for radon in the county.

For more information about radon, visit http://www.unce.unr.edu/radon. For more information about fixing a radon problem, visit Carpenter’s Web site at http://www.sierraradon.com.

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