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Old 16.05.2017, 23:42
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Radon gas levels in Ticino

We're approaching the 'rogito' on a house we're purchasing in Lugano and our lawyer just forwarded us the report from the Ufficio di sanita on Radon. Apparently there was a nationwide study done in 2006 and the results for one of this property's bedrooms in the "basement" (it's on a hillside) was 730 Bq/m3.

That seems a bit high to me even if the current acceptable limit is 1000 Bq/m3. The report seemed to suggest no immediate action was needed, but steps would need to be taken should we renovate in the future.

Any other experiences with this? Should I just accept that this just normal for a 1970's house built on the side of a mountain in Ticino?
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Old 16.05.2017, 23:49
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Re: Radon gas levels in Ticino

Yes, it's normal.

Tom
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Old 17.05.2017, 07:52
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Re: Radon gas levels in Ticino

From the Federal Office of Public Health website:

The guideline and limit values currently in force for the radon concentration in residential and common rooms as well as for working places are laid down in the ordinance on radioprotection (ORaP).
  • Limit value for residential and recreational zones: 1000 Bq/m
  • Limit value for offices: 3000 Bq/m
  • Guideline value for new buildings, alterations and renovations: 400 Bq/m
  • Recommendation FOPH for residential and common rooms: 300 Bq/m3

Limit value: If radon concentrations in residential and recreational premises exceed the limit of 1000 Bq/m (annual mean), the owner is required to carry out remedial work. The limit applicable at the workplace is 3000 Bq/m.


Guideline value: For new buildings, alterations and renovations, the guideline value of 400 Bq/m is applicable, insofar as this can be achieved by simple structural measures.


New recommendation of the FOPH (state 2010): The FOPH recommends, based on the new international norms (see Link below), not to exceed the value of 300 Bq/m3 in residential and recreational premises and to reach a level as low as reasonably achievable when mitigating and renovating buildings as well as in new constructions.
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Old 17.05.2017, 08:12
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Re: Radon gas levels in Ticino

No radon level is safe. The current target in the UK is to reduce levels everywhere to just 100bq/m3. In the US the trigger for action ia 150bq/m3

From radon.com

"An elementary school student that spends 8 hours per day and 180 days per year in a classroom with 4 pCi/L (150bq/m3) 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)"

You can mitigate the effects of radon by installing a membrane in the cellar or using paint that is designed to prevent the gas leaking through. There are filters that can stop it coming through the pipes. On the basis that there are relatively inexpensive measures you can take to significantly reduce exposure, it's not something I'd worry about.
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Old 17.05.2017, 11:35
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Re: Radon gas levels in Ticino

Do your basement as a treatment spa and charge money.
http://www.gastein.com/de/thermen-ge.../radontherapie
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Old 23.01.2018, 22:49
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Re: Radon gas levels in Ticino

On the government radon pages it states that as of 2018 the level must be no higher than 300 and that remedial action is the responsibility of the owner. But who pays if the householder cannot afford it? The insurance? And what action would the state take against the home owner who cannot afford the necessary remedial work?

see
https://www.bag.admin.ch/bag/en/home...tionsplan.html
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Old 23.01.2018, 23:01
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Re: Radon gas levels in Ticino

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On the government radon pages it states that as of 2018 the level must be no higher than 300 and that remedial action is the responsibility of the owner. But who pays if the householder cannot afford it? The insurance? And what action would the state take against the home owner who cannot afford the necessary remedial work?

see
https://www.bag.admin.ch/bag/en/home...tionsplan.html
Why would insurance pay? It's hardly an issue that occurred during the term of the policy & unlikely to be covered in any case.

No doubt the home would be sold at auction if the owner refused to bring it up to legal living standards.
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Old 23.01.2018, 23:02
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Re: Radon gas levels in Ticino

One can get a ventilation system installed. The current owner should pay or compensate for it.
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Old 24.01.2018, 10:03
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Re: Radon gas levels in Ticino

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On the government radon pages it states that as of 2018 the level must be no higher than 300 and that remedial action is the responsibility of the owner. But who pays if the householder cannot afford it? The insurance? And what action would the state take against the home owner who cannot afford the necessary remedial work?

see
https://www.bag.admin.ch/bag/en/home...tionsplan.html
One year after buying our house, we had an inspection and were told we must replace the boiler with one with lower emissions within 3 years. We had to pay for that. If we didn't do it, then we'd be fined if we used the boiler.

If you don't do work on your home that is required by the authorities, you might be fined, they might bar your from living there, they might pay for the work to be done and then bill you. Owning your home brings responsibilities.

Maybe you get a loan?
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Old 24.01.2018, 11:14
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Re: Radon gas levels in Ticino

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From radon.com

"An elementary school student that spends 8 hours per day and 180 days per year in a classroom with 4 pCi/L (150bq/m3) 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)"

Apart from using old units, this just smells like total bullshit. 2500 mSv/y 2.5 mSv/y by sitting 1440h in a room with 150Bq/m^3 ?


The ICRP Publication 65 "Protection Against Radon-222 at Home and at Work" http://www.icrp.org/publication.asp?...blication%2065
gives us some idea how we could convert from Bq/m^3 to mSv. It highly depends on the presence of the decay products and there seem to be established values for standard workplaces and homes.

Given the values on page 17 of the publication we get 0.463 mSv/y for 1440h in a room with 150Bq/m^3.

Edit: Damn old units: 25 mRem == 0.25 mSv.
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Old 24.01.2018, 11:53
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Re: Radon gas levels in Ticino

I find it very confusing. We had up to 200 in the cellar which seemed manageable as the long term average is around 90. We have all the basement windows open 24 hours a day. But when we moved our measure to the second floor where the bedrooms are, we get up to 500 with a longer term average of 190.

My understanding is that although we can measure in this way, we don't know how much Radon is attaching itself to things in the house and therefore not being breathed into lungs. That's to say, as I understand it, the high reading could mean danger or it could be harmless. Research I have read suggests, for example, that a wood workshop can have a high reading but low harm because there is so much wood dust to attach itself to.

I know the recommendation is not to measure near a window, but when we put it at the top of the staircase next to an open window, the level goes to its highest. Chimney effect?

I'm having difficulty thinking about what remedial action to take. We have a concrete base, all windows on the ground floor are open. We also have fans down there, as if the wind was not enough.
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Old 24.01.2018, 13:05
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Re: Radon gas levels in Ticino

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I find it very confusing. We had up to 200 in the cellar which seemed manageable as the long term average is around 90. We have all the basement windows open 24 hours a day. But when we moved our measure to the second floor where the bedrooms are, we get up to 500 with a longer term average of 190.

My understanding is that although we can measure in this way, we don't know how much Radon is attaching itself to things in the house and therefore not being breathed into lungs. That's to say, as I understand it, the high reading could mean danger or it could be harmless. Research I have read suggests, for example, that a wood workshop can have a high reading but low harm because there is so much wood dust to attach itself to.

I know the recommendation is not to measure near a window, but when we put it at the top of the staircase next to an open window, the level goes to its highest. Chimney effect?

I'm having difficulty thinking about what remedial action to take. We have a concrete base, all windows on the ground floor are open. We also have fans down there, as if the wind was not enough.
Have you done a measurement outside the house? Do you smoke?
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Old 24.01.2018, 13:06
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Re: Radon gas levels in Ticino

We don't smoke. No, I have not yet measured outside. It's hard sharing the machine around the house. I can see that we probably need 3 or 4 of them.
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Old 24.01.2018, 13:24
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Re: Radon gas levels in Ticino

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We don't smoke. No, I have not yet measured outside. It's hard sharing the machine around the house. I can see that we probably need 3 or 4 of them.
Might be coming through an upstairs pipe. What kind of device are you using. Long term, short term. Usually measurements are done with the windows closed. Probably best for a profi analysis.
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