Radon gas, the second leading cause of lung cancer in the U.S., is a well-known issue in single family residential property transactions. A colorless, odorless, naturally occurring, radioactive gas, radon is attributed to causing 21,000 lung cancer deaths per year, only surpassed by lung cancer induced by tobacco use.
Given the potential liabilities associated with radon, investors and property managers are now proactively addressing elevated radon levels in their commercial and multifamily residential properties. Since its founding in 1988, S.W.A.T. Environmental has led the way in mitigating radon in single family residential properties. Now the company is helping commercial and multifamily property owners and investors mitigate radon in larger-scale properties.
“Just as radon gas concentrates in single family homes, radon concentrates in commercial and multifamily residential buildings, and sometimes more so, because of building construction and ventilation equipment,” says Gordon Satoh, director of technical services. “The number of occupants in these types of structures, particularly in mixed-use locales, necessitates a different strategy regarding site investigation, planning, project execution, communication, and professionalism.”
Radon gas occurs when deposits of uranium, found naturally in most soils, undergo radioactive decay. A decay product of uranium is radium, which, in turn, decays into the gas.
Radon mitigation and remediation systems for commercial and multifamily residential buildings are affordable and worthwhile investments for property investors, owners and managers. Approximately 20 percent of S.W.A.T.’s business in driven by such commercial mitigation, and with operations in 35 states, S.W.A.T. is uniquely positioned to address radon risks as they occur in zones of higher-than-average radon concentration.
In recent years, S.W.A.T. has been involved in a wide range of commercial and multifamily residential mitigation projects, including traditional commercial developments, multifamily residential projects, schools, homeowners associations, custom-built luxury homes, factories and federal U.S. government sites. The scope and breadth of S.W.A.T.’s projects is extensive, with its work addressing radon risks at locations with up to 80 units and 88,000-square-feet.
For example, Satoh explains that S.W.A.T. installed vapor intrusion mitigation and remediation systems in a large multifamily residential building with eight-stories and four-wings. In that instance, the massive structure was built with pre-cast concrete and post-tension cabling. In order to avoid drilling into any of those cables, S.W.A.T. utilized state-of-the-art, ground-penetrating radar technology which determined the precise location of the cables.
In the case of commercial and large multifamily residential properties, S.W.A.T.’s carefully calculated work includes assessing and coring through the foundation of each property so that its advanced systems can transport harmful gases through carefully engineered piping to large, industrial-strength roof-top fans, which draw the vapors to an elevation where they can safely disperse.
The cost of these systems is minimal, especially when the potential to prevent radon-related lung cancer is taken into consideration. These systems prevent pain and suffering, Satoh says, can help save thousands of lives lost unnecessarily to radon-related lung cancer. With the gravity of its work in mind, no project is too large or too complicated for S.W.A.T., as the company readily embraces creative and innovative solutions.
Safety is of utmost importance on all S.W.A.T. projects, and the company goes above and beyond to ensure that nobody is put at risk, whether an employee, property owner or builder. All of S.W.A.T.’s technicians are carefully trained and certified before they set foot on a project site, and the technicians assigned to commercial and multifamily residential sites have a high level of technical expertise, which they earn through advanced training and safety coursework.
Since 2015, S.W.A.T.’s reputation for quality work and customer service has resulted in revenue growth of more than 20 percent, and new business has drawn S.W.A.T. into six new states, expanding its footprint tremendously. Satoh believes the company will continue to grow at a fast rate as more and more people become aware of how easy, affordable and lifesaving it is test for and mitigate radon, especially in schools, government buildings and businesses.
The federal government has a part in that as well. New legislation requires any multifamily residential property which applies for U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) funding to complete radon testing. That funding is intended to promote homeownership, community development and access to affordable housing, and HUD recognizes the value of ensuring that all residents and communities are safe from the harmful effects of radon.
S.W.A.T. is committed to saving lives through radon mitigation services and is proud to be a Gold Sponsor of the American Association of Radon Scientists and Technologists. As Satoh says, the radon business comes with social responsibility, and ultimately S.W.A.T. is working to reduce radon-related lung cancer deaths.
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