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Gasalert at Villa Linnea?

April 13, 2014
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Finland is a dangerous place to live! Hazardous gases can sneak up on you anytime and anywhere. Nobody can really tell where they are. Luckily, the Finnish government is making sure that we builders and future home owners live safely by forcing pretty much everybody to test the site of our homes against the number one enemy: Radon.

Radon is defined as radioactive, colorless, tasteless, and odorless. It’s like it doesn’t really exist. And nobody can really say where in Finland it really shows up. Your neighbor a kilometer away (I’m talking countryside dimensions here) might have it and you don’t. They can’t either say whether it shows up more in the Northern or Southern Finland. It could be anywhere. Studies have shown a link between too high concentrations of Radon and lung cancer. Therefore, indoor air quality also takes the concentration of Radon into account.

The building permit for Villa Linnea includes the condition of having done a Radon check. Because it has to be done so frequently nowadays, the Finnish government agency STUK (also responsible for all kind of other radioactive stuff) provides a do-it-yourself measurement kit. The measurement includes the measurement device which measures over a time period the concentration of Radon indoors. One of these icehockey puck kind of thingis has to be placed at least in each floor and for a period of at least one month.

Radon purkki

Each of these little measurement devices sets you back 44 Euros which includes already the cost of the analysis and any postal fees which is quite a fair deal. You can order the stuff conveniently from the web shop of STUK (probably the only web shop that the Finnish government runs?!).

But the measurement should not only be done for one month time (which makes you think about where to place these not-so-beautiful decorative black pieces of rubber) but also during defined times of the year. You got to do it in the time period between November and April and you cannot do it in the summer. Since I only installed the ventilation system during last fall I could run this test only this winter.

I placed one of them in a tower room upstairs and the other one in the livingroom (including the first Xmas decoration which feels a bit out of context right now).

P1020718s

I sent the measure devices back to STUK in early 2014 and got the results within two weeks.

If your Radon concentration is below 200 Bq/m3 (Don’t ask me what that measurement unit stands for. I couldn’t be bothered to figure it out), then STUK considers your home safe.

If your Radon concentration is above 200 Bq/m3, then STUK recommends to take “easy to implement” improvements such as turning up the ventilation system permanently.

If your Radon concentration exceeds 400 Bq/m3, STUK recommends you to pack your things and leave the country immediately. Well, no, but you are forced to take rather expensive measures below your house that blows the Radon gas coming from the earth below into all kind of directions but not in your house. That’s when the fun stops with Radon.

The last thing I want to do now – with the Villa being almost ready- is to start installing additional pipes, machines and cables under the house and, therefore, I awaited the results from STUK with some concerns. Here are the results:

Living rooom: 40 Bq/m3

Tower bed room: 30 Bq/m3.

No further actions needed.

Saved for this time!

 

But remember: there are millions of us living in homes in Finland where no Radon measurement has ever been done. That includes our own house where we spent the most of the time still before we are retired. Maybe, I should invest some 44 Euros also in our home in the city. But for now, we are safe at the countryside.

 

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