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Active RRNC Model Code Proposal

Announcement - December 11, 2009

This is an announcement for a new effort to develop an ANSI/AARST model code for Active Radon Resistant New Construction (Active RRNC) in high radon areas. This new model code is intended to support code change proposals under consideration in the International Residential Code (IRC). Modifying the building code to require an Active Soil Depressurization (ASD) system in all new homes in high radon areas in the United States will further the joint goals of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Conference of Radiation Control Program Directors (CRCPD) and the American Association of Radon Scientists and Technologists (AARST) to double the radon mitigation rate in the United States over the next five years.

Doubling the current mitigation rate for radon in the US represents the turning point to stem the tide and actually begin reducing the number of homes in the country’s housing stock with elevated radon. Currently more new homes are constructed each year with elevated radon problems then are remediated. This means that there are more homes in the US with elevated radon today than there were 20 years ago. We need your support and participation to reverse this trend and start to bring real radon risk reduction to the general population of the United States.

Further details are provided in the attached pdf file. If you are interested in commenting or participating in the standard development please contact:

Dave Kapturowski




User photo for: Jim McNees Alabama

There is considerable need for improvements in the matter. Appendix F has problems and 1465 is to complicated for local building code officials in Alabama to easily utilize.

The new "RRNC" standard should require passive installation that is ready to be made active if the radon test indicates the need. It should require that the builder inform the new occupant in writing about the passive system and recommend a radon test at occupancy. It could even require that the builder provide the new occupant with a radon test kit to use in testing the residence.

I believe item 5 in Dave Kapturowski's attachment should be revised to read:

5) An option would be provided for the builder to install
an ASD System because of high radon potential in the local area, the
building site, or the foundation type. The builder would need to
provide a third-party test result in the lowest livable area
below 4.0 pCi/l prior to occupancy.

I do not believe this standard should unilaterally revise the Action Level to 2.0 pCi/l until such is done nationwide as a part of our national radon policy.

In Alabama we call this "Radon Ready" instead of RRNC because it is ready to be made active in the event of an elevated radon test.

User photo for: Jim McNees Alabama

This propsal needs to also consider the benefit vs cost to our citizens should "active only" be the model code for new construction. In my state it would waste a lot of energy in homes that do not need an active radon removal fan.

"Appendix F" has flaws and "1465" is too complicated for local Alabama Code officials to utilize, so there is need for improvement. But is "active only" the way?

From page 8 of the executive summary of the EPA funded "Moisture Study" as found at:
http://www.epa.gov/radon/pdfs/moisturestudy.pdf one observes an unbiased estimate of the energy cost of SSD systems to be from $83 to $191 per year. If one averages those two numbers the result is $137 per year. Over the life of the system that will amount to a substantial energy cost for those residences that do not have elevated radon.

Is $137 per year a valid estimate of the energy cost? In terms of the sum of the electricity to run the fan and the energy loss due to the radon system's removal of indoor air.

In my state even in the highest radon counties only about 30% of the initial radon tests for each specific address are greater than the Action Level of 4.0 pCi/l. In several Zone 1 counties this percentage is less than 20%, yet they are still Zone 1. And the distribution. The distribution is log-normal, meaning a few are significantly elevated while a great many are at or close to the detectable limit of the testing methodology.

Should "active only" be only utilized in zip codes where the % of initial tests in an address is typically greater than the action level 50% of the time? 75% of the time? 90% of the time? In how high of a "high radon area" would this $137 per year energy cost on all houses (both those with radon and those without) be justified?

Before much time, energy, and money is expended on an active only new construction standard serious consideration should be given to the extensive energy cost it would impose on homes that do not need radon removal. We as states should consider what would be best in our part of the country and let our conclusions be known.

If I am misguided in my assumptions or conclusions, then would someone please explain the error of my ways.

Jim McNees