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Mike Kuzara

Mike Kuzara

Keying off Sen. Mike Enzi’s column “New Green Deal is a bad deal for Wyoming“ I’d like to call attention to another EPA manufactured scare that’s right up there with the green men in area 51, the alar red dye panic and firing cannons at the sky to make it rain, which I class as the “Common wisdom trap.”

Self-proclaimed experts are making millions of people frightened by radon in their crawlspaces. Even those who don’t really believe radon under a home is dangerous are forced to hire radon mitigation contractors to install elaborate collection systems in what are termed “sealed” crawlspaces to satisfy various city, county, state and national codes.

I’m getting my information from Dr. Jerry M. Cuttler, a radiation expert and adviser to the American Council on Science and Health, who authored a paper entitled: “Threshold for Radon-Induced Lung Cancer From Inhaled Plutonium Data.”

Rather than take up too much space with technical jargon that puts readers to sleep, which talks about the linear no-threshold model upon which EPA rules and standards are based, I will cut to the chase by saying Dr. Cuttler’s report says that the radon scare is baseless.

This brings me around to the subject of our well-insulated homes that are so tight that “combustion air” must be provided for devices that actually use fire, as in gas furnaces and water heaters. But how about combustion air for us humans?

Some specs say a crawlspace must have a vent three feet from every corner. Other contractors insist that there should be no vents and the space must be “sealed.”

There is no cohesive consensus on how these spaces should be treated to keep mold from growing or how to ventilate to keep plumbing from freezing while keeping the humidity at less than 50 percent.

The solution is simple and comparatively cheap. Positive air pressure within the living space is the answer. A 6 to 8 inch pipe buried a minimum of 5 feet deep and extended as far as the available property will allow, can be attached to the home’s mechanical room and living space. The far end is brought up to the surface and covered by a screened rain cap. Air pulled in by a low-volume fan supplies fresh warmed air in the winter and cool air in the summer. A small louver at the highest point in the living space supplies ceiling air to an insulated duct that then goes to the crawlspace or even a basement. That air is then returned by small unobtrusive floor vents.

Even the EPA and the radon testing people admit that they can’t get good radon readings if people are opening and closing doors or leaving windows open. Imagine that! Fresh air ruins the radon concentration. I’m admitting here that radon exists and it is everywhere. That’s a fact. It’s just not the problem that the EPA and radon mitigation people would have you believe.

By creating a whole-house positive air pressure environment you save on the heat bill because it stops cold air induction through window and door gaps (And don’t forget the bathroom and stove vents that have to suck air from somewhere.)

When you were little, the monsters under your bed were no more real than the monster in your crawlspace if you know how to deal with it. Knowledge and common sense are the key.

By the way, I suspect the radon hysteria is supported by the Flat Earth Society and the American Phrenology Association.

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Mike Kuzara lives with his wife Mary out on the high flats halfway between Sheridan and Big Horn where the only thing breaking the wind is antelope legs. Email him at m-mkuzara@actaccess.net.

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