CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Residents of the Condominiums at Latta Pavilion, 1320 Fillmore Ave. in Charlotte, have solved a challenging radon problem with the help of national experts and a $700,000 investment in a new ventilation system.
Radon is a colorless, odorless gas that is found throughout the world. In many homes radon levels become elevated. Radon can be as carcinogenic as second-hand smoke if it is concentrated. The EPA recommends everyone test the radon levels in their home.
“High levels of radon first showed in one of the Latta Pavilion condominiums during a routine test requested by a potential buyer of a condominium,” said Larry Tilson, president of the condominium’s executive board. “Subsequent testing found that the problem existed throughout the entire building. Going through this discovery and resolution was a challenging experience, but we believe our remediation puts us ahead of the curve as we learn about other concrete-constructed, energy-efficient buildings discovering similar radon problems."
Searching for a solution to the problem led the condominium board to Bill Brodhead of Riegelsville, PA, widely regarded as one of the leading radon experts in the country and a frequent speaker at meetings of radon testing professionals.
“Radon is fairly common in the homes in many parts of the country,” Brodhead said. “The standard solution to reduce radon levels in a home is to depressurize the soil beneath the basement, crawlspace, or slab with a custom ventilation system. However, in multi-story buildings the key to reducing the radon levels to well below the EPA action level (requiring corrective action) is to increase the ventilation rate to established national guideline levels. Latta Pavilion successfully used this approach.
“In Charlotte as well as other areas of the country, multi-story condominiums are typically constructed with concrete floors and ceilings,” Brodhead explained. “The ventilation rate of these condominiums is often very low because of this construction style and the use of energy-conserving, air-tight windows and sliding glass doors. All concrete tends to emit some radon. The combination of very low air change rates in the condominium and large exposures of concrete floors and ceilings caused the radon levels at Latta Pavilion to be elevated above the EPA action level of 4 pCi/l (pico-Curies per liter).”
The condominium association hired RDK Engineering of Charlotte to engineer a new central air solution, with Brodhead providing technical guidance. Two new high-capacity heating and air-conditioning units were installed on the roof of the building, and insulated ductwork now continuously brings in outdoor air to every unit and common area hallways.
“Every one of the 100 units in our building has been certified to have radon levels well below the EPA action level,” Tilson noted. “In addition we have fresh, temperature-controlled air entering each unit at all times. This reduces unit heating and air costs, and also eliminates moisture build-up and other problems that can result from too-tight construction and inadequate ventilation.”
The Condominiums at Latta Pavilion are located at 1320 Fillmore Avenue in Charlotte’s historic Dilworth neighborhood.