Environmental concerns in VS .NET

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260 Environmental concerns
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Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), scientists estimate that between 5,000 and 20,000 lung-cancer deaths a year in the United States can be attributed to radon. The concentration of radon in the air is measured in units of picocuries per liter of air (pCi/l). Based on currently available information, the EPA has set guidelines for radon levels in residential structures. (See TABLE 20-1.) Their action level is 4 pCi/l; that is, no action is needed if the radon concentration is below 4 pCi/l. The EPA acknowledges that even the action level is not risk free because exposure to an annual radon level of 4 pCi/l is equivalent to the risk of smoking ten cigarettes a day or
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Table 20-1. U.S. EPA guidelines for residential radon. Annual average Radon level Recommended action
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Over 200 pCi/l Between 20 and 200 pCi/l Between 4 and 20 pCi/1 Take action to reduce levels within several weeks. Take action to reduce levels within several months Exposures in this range are considered above average You should take action to reduce levels to about 4 pCi/l or below within a few years (sooner if levels are at the upper end of this range). Exposures in this range are considered average or slightly above average. Although exposures in this range do present some increased risk of lung cancer, reductions of levels this low may be difficult, and sometimes impossible, to achieve. These are average first-floor residential levels.
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Below 4 pCi/l
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having two-hundred chest X-rays a year. The action level was set at 4 pCi/l because in some cases reduction below that level might be difficult or impossible to achieve. Although radon gas is present in varying quantities in soils around the world, not every house has a problem with high radon levels. It is possible for one house to have a very low radon concentration while an adjacent house has a very high level. It depends on the construction of the house, the uranium-radium content in the soil, and geological formation below the house. The only way to know if a house has a radon problem is to test it. The radon concentration in a house varies with time. It is affected by a number of environmental factors such as rain, snow, barometric pressure, and direction of wind relative to open windows, and by induced negative pressures caused by periodic use of exhaust fans, attic fans, fireplaces, and heating systems. Consequently, the most accurate method of determining the average annual radon concentration is a long-term test. However, since time is usually limited in real estate transactions, a long-term test is not practical, and consequently a charcoal canister with a test period of three to seven days is generally used. Canisters can be purchased in hardware stores and home centers. Also, in many areas professional home-inspection companies offer radon-testing services. If you intend to place the radon-detection canister yourself, make sure that you follow the directions carefully; otherwise, the results might be inaccurate. Since radon is a gas, it can seep into the lower level of a house through dirt floors, cracks in concrete floors and walls, floor drains, sump pits, open joints and tiny cracks or pores in hollow block walls. (See FIG. 20-1.) If after a house is tested it is determined that it has a high radon concentration, don t panic. The condition can be corrected at a reasonable
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Radon 261
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E A. Cracks in concrete slabs B. Spaces behind brick veneer walls that rest on uncapped hollow-block foundation C. Pores and cracks in concrete blocks D. Floor-wall joints E. Exposed soil, as in a sump F. Weeping (drain) tile, if drained to open sump G. Mortar joints H. Loose fitting pipe penetrations I. Open tops of block walls J. Shower
Fig. 20-1. Major radon entry routes. cost. A number of methods have been successful in reducing radon concentration levels in buildings to a point below the action level. A typical mitigation procedure that is very effective is to use a 4-inch plastic pipe with an in-line fan that vents the radon gas from 262 Environmental concerns below the floor slab to above the roof. Correcting the problem is not a do-it-yourself task. It should be done by a radon-mitigation contractor that has completed the requirements for listing under the U.S. EPA s Radon Contractor Proficiency Program.
Radon can also enter the house through the domestic water supplied by a private well. It can be transferred into the air during a shower or when water is running in a sink. However, it takes relatively high levels of waterborne radon to produce a significantly elevated level of radon in a house; the large volume of air inside a house dilutes the radon being transferred to the air from the relatively small volume of water. It is estimated that the normal use of a water supply containing 10,000 pCi/l will produce a concentration of 1 pCi/l of radon in the air. It therefore takes a waterborne radon level of 40,000 pCi/l to reach the EPA s action level of 4 pCi/l. In most parts of the country, radon gas emanating from the soil is the major contributor to indoor airborne radon. As a result, the water from a private well is normally not tested for radon during the initial screening test. However, in some areas of the United States, waterborne radon significantly contributes to the total radon concentration. You can check with your local health department to find out if testing the water is recommended for your area. As of this writing, the EPA has not set a maximum level for radon in drinking water. Nevertheless, if the radon level is greater than 10,000 pCi/l, water-supply mitigation should be considered. There are water-treatment methods available that can be used for removing radon at the point of entry. The specific method should be discussed with the radonmitigation contractor. Incidentally, do not worry about drinking the water. The health effect of drinking waterborne radon is relatively insignificant compared to that associated with breathing in airborne radon.
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