Radon and moisture impacts from interventions integrated with housing energy retrofits

Paul W. Francisco, Stacy Gloss, Jonathan Wilson, William Rose, Yigang Sun, Sherry L. Dixon, Jill Breysse, Ellen Tohn, David E. Jacobs

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Energy retrofits can reduce air exchange, raising the concern of whether indoor radon and moisture levels could increase. This pre/post-intervention study explored whether simple radon interventions implemented in conjunction with energy retrofits can prevent increases in radon and moisture levels. Treatment homes (n = 98) were matched with control (no energy retrofits or radon intervention) homes (n = 12). Control homes were matched by geographic location and foundation type. t-tests were used to determine whether post-energy retrofit radon and moisture level changes in treatment homes significantly differed from those in control homes. The radon interventions succeeded in preventing statistically significant increases in first floor radon using arithmetic (p = 0.749) and geometric means (p = 0.120). In basements, arithmetic (p = 0.060) and geometric (p = 0.092) mean radon levels statistically significantly increased, consistent with previous studies which found that basement radon levels may increase even if first floor levels remain unchanged. Changes in infiltration were related to changes in radon (p = 0.057 in basements; p = 0.066 on first floors). Only 58% of the change in infiltration was due to air sealing, with the rest due to weather changes. There was no statistically significant association between air sealing itself and radon levels on the first floor (p = 0.664). Moisture levels also did not significantly increase.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)147-155
Number of pages9
JournalIndoor Air
Volume30
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2020

Keywords

  • energy retrofits
  • housing
  • indoor air quality
  • moisture
  • radon

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Building and Construction
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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