UWM Radon Reduction Technology Laboratory Homepage

Radon is a colorless, odorless, tasteless, and radioactive gas produced from the natural decay of uranium which is found in nearly all soils. It typically moves up through the ground and into homes through cracks in the foundation, gaps and joints in the building materials, and exposures to the soil. The major health risk associated with exposure to radon gas is an increased risk of lung cancer. According to the U.S. Surgeon General, radon is the nation's second leading cause of lung cancer; only smoking causes more deaths each year. Nearly 1 out of 15 U.S. homes have an elevated radon level (four picocuries per liter of air (4 pCi/L) or more which is equivalent to 200 chest x-rays per year). Of the new houses built each year in the U.S., roughly 60,000 are likely to have radon concentrations greater than 4 pCi/L. In Wisconsin, the results of a random survey showed that 26% of the new houses constructed will have radon levels greater than 4 pCi/L. the severity of the problem has created an $8 billion U.S. radon mitigation market and the demand for more dynamic radon reduction techniques.

With grants from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Wisconsin Department of Health and Social Services, University of Wisconsin System and University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee totaling more than $900K, the Radon Reduction Technology Laboratory is investigating the phenomena of radon transport and entry dynamics with respect to innovative radon mitigation techniques. Current projects include:

  1. Field testing and remote PC-based monitoring and control of a heat recovery ventilation-basement pressurization system at a Colgate, Wisconsin home.
  2. Evaluation of reducing radon gas entry in residential new construction by the utilization of industrial by-products as an admixture in concrete samples.
  3. Experimentation of an original non-mechanical passive radon reduction system at a test site that exhibits moderate levels (<10 pCi/L).
  4. Assessing the effectiveness of cementitious coatings and sealants with regards to obstructing the eggression of radon gas in concrete specimens.
  5. Utilization of Electro-Osmotic Pulsing Technology to reduce radon penetration in concrete slabs.
The laboratory contains: several Portable Continuous Radon Gas Monitors, numerous Lucas Cells, Radon Calibration Standards, a Radon Monitor Calibration Loop, a Pressure Calibration System, a Concrete Sample Porosity Measurement System, a Concrete Sample-Air Permeability Measurement System, a Concrete-Radon Diffusion Measurement System, an Environmentally-Controlled Laboratory Chamber, a high-speed PC-Data Acquisition and Control System (PC-DACS), two Pentium PC's, and high sensitivity instrumentation (e.g., pressure sensors, thermistors, humidity sensors, control valves, etc.).

Publications Generated by Laboratory

Magazine and Newspaper Articles
Journal Articles
Conference Presentations
Theses


Director:

Dr. Kevin J. Renken
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
Mechanical Engineering Department
Radon Reduction Technology Laboratory
3200 N. Cramer Street
Milwaukee, WI 53211-3029

EMS 875
Tel: (414)229-5755
Fax: (414)229-6958
E-mail: renken@csd.uwm.edu

Research Assistants:

Jay Maas
EMS 810
Tel:(414)229-2949
Fax:(414)229-6958
Current Project: Laboratory Assessment of Cementitious Coatings as a Barrier to Radon Gas Entry
E-mail:jaymaas@csd.uwm.edu

Yoon S. (Daniel)Nam
EMS 885
Tel:(414)229-6619
Fax:(414)229-6958
Current Project: Experiment and Modeling of Electro-Osmotic Pulsing Technology to Eliminate Radon Gas Egression
E-mail:cybernam@csd.uwm.edu


Links to Radon Related and Other Sites


PUBLICATIONS GENERATED BY LABORATORY

Magazine and Newspaper Articles:

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "UWM Professor, Students Battle Radon Seepage," article featuring current radon reduction projects, September 8, 1995.

UWM Graduate School, "Turning Up the Heat on Radon," Research Profile, in-depth article on faculty members who involve graduate and undergraduate students in their research, Vol. 18, No. 3, pp. 36-39, Spring-Summer 1995.

UWM Graduate School, "Home Improvement," Research Profile, in-depth article on radon research and scholarly activities, Vol. 17, No. 3, pp. 10-17, Spring 1994.
 

Journal Articles:

Kevin J. Renken and Steven J. Konopacki, "An Innovative Radon Mitigation - Energy Conservation Retrofit System," Journal of the Air & Waste Management Association, Vol. 43, No. 3, pp. 310-315, March 1993.

K. J. Renken and T. Rosenberg, "Laboratory Measurements of the Transport of Radon Gas Through Concrete Samples," Health Physics, Vol. 68, No. 6, pp. 800-808, June 1995.

K. J. Renken and S. Coursin, "A Contemporary Method for Monitoring Indoor Radon and Environmental Conditions at a Remote Test Site," Radiation Protection Dosimetry, Vol. 64, No. 4, pp. 280-296, 1996.

K. J. Renken and S. Coursin, "Further Analysis of a Basement Pressurization-Heat Recovery System for Residential Radon Reduction," Health Physics (under review).

K. J. Renken and S. Coursin, "The Impact of Atmospheric Conditions on Residential Radon Levels," to be submitted to Health Physics .

K. J. Renken and S. Coursin, "Measurement of Solar Radiation, Diurnal Variations and Indoor Radon Concentrations at a Residential Test Site," to be submitted to Atmospheric Environment.

K. J. Renken and T. Lambert, "The Utilization of Fly Ash and Silica Fume to Reduce Radon Gas Penetration in Concrete," to be submitted to Radiation Protection Dosimetry.

K. J. Renken and Y. S. Nam, "The Effectiveness of a State-of-the-Art HRV System in a Wisconsin Residence With Relatively High Levels of Radon," to be submitted to Building and Environment.

K. J. Renken and J. Maas, "Assessment of Cementitious Coatings as a Barrier to Radon Gas Entry," to be submitted to Health Physics.
 

Conference Presentations:

K. J. Renken and S. J. Konopacki, "A Novel Basement Pressurization-Energy Conservation System For Residential Radon Reduction," Proceedings of The 1992 International Symposium on Radon and Radon Reduction Technology Preprints, Vol. 2, pp. 7.17-1.36, Minneapolis, Minnesota, September 22-25, 1992.

K. J. Renken and S. Coursin, "Preliminary Results of Remote Test Site Control and Monitoring of Reduced Indoor Radon Levels Due to an Innovative Basement Pressurization-Heat Recovery System," 1994 International Radon Symposium Pre-Prints, Session V, pp. 6.1-6.22, presented at The 1994 American Association of Radon Scientists and Technologists, Inc. International Radon Symposium, Atlantic City, NJ, September 25-28, 1994.

K. J. Renken and T. Lambert, "Experiments on Industrial By-Products Utilization in Concrete Admixtures to Reduce Radon Transport Properties," to be presented at 1997 International Radon Symposium, Cincinnati, OH, November 2-5, 1997.

Theses:

Steven J. Konopacki, M.S. Thesis: "A Novel Basement Pressurization-Energy Conservation System for Residential Radon Mitigation," Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, May 1992.

Timothy Rosenberg, M.S. Thesis: "Measurements of the Transport Coefficients of Radon in Concrete," Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Wisconsin- Milwaukee, January 1993.

Scott Coursin, M.S. Thesis: "Automation of a Remote PC-Data Acquisition and Control System for an Innovative Radon Mitigation-Heat Recovery Technique," Department of Industrial Engineering, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, January 1994.

Terry Lambert, M.S. Thesis: "The Utilization of Industrial By-Products to Reduce Radon Gas Egression in Concrete," Department of Civil Engineering, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, in progress.

Jay Maas, M.S. Thesis: "Laboratory Assessment of Cementitious Coatings as a Barrier to Radon Gas Entry," Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, in progress.

Yoon-Suk Nam, Ph.D. Thesis: "Experiment and Modeling of Electro-Osmotic Pulsing Technology to Eliminate Radon Gas Egression," Department of Civil Engineering, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, in progress.


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