Ever heard of it? If you are planning on building a new home, it is an important part of the planning process. Radon is a significant problem in Iowa. The EPA lists counties of high potential for radon contamination in the country. Radon causes similar effects to the respiratory effects of tobacco smoking. You won’t likely suffer any consequences for a long time after your exposure. Like tobacco, the longer you are in the higher levels of radon, the more likely you are to suffer its consequences: lung cancer. Current estimates are 21,000 deaths nation wide due to radon exposure. Persons exposed to radon and tobacco are even more likely to have these effects.
Housing construction has changed a lot from the days of the classic Iowa farm home. They are far tighter to air exchanges, lowering heating and cooling costs. Windows are better, again maintaining inside air in the house. One problem some have encountered with this is high levels of humidity and possibly mold. Another problem is that levels of radon may also be elevated. You can’t reasonably test before building, only after the house is built.
If you are building a new home, you can have Radon Resistant Construction techniques used. This will typically cost a couple hundred dollars, perhaps less. Done when the foundation is poured, it is very simple and inexpensive as well as more effective. It works by attempting to prevent radon from ever entering your home. In many cases it will be a totally passive system, requiring nothing more than occasional testing to verify the effectiveness of the system. In a few cases, a fan will be required. The fan is mounted outside the house and draws air and radon from under the floor/slab, venting it to the outside. This should not require internal alterations to the home. Many houses are or need to be mitigated, which is a method of reducing radon level in the house to 4 pico curies or less. That can be done at a cost of somewhere between $1000 and $2500. Homes retrofitted with radon mitigation systems virtually always require a fan.
How do you get it done? You must specify it to your contractor, just as you do any other part of the building process. Planning this out before you build will help make your new home safer and more healthy.