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Radon in the News

Five Years Later, Radon Levels are Lingering Reminder of 2011 Louisa Earthquake

It’s been nearly five years since an earthquake hit Virginia, toppling chimneys and brick walls, cracking foundations and toppling furniture. No one was killed or seriously injured, and for many people, it’s just an exciting memory, but for some the quake may have produced a silent but dangerous problem for homeowners.

Wolfgang Hermann runs a company called Central Virginia Radon -- testing for and getting rid of a radioactive gas that comes from rocks and soil - leaking into houses and putting their residents at increased risk for lung cancer. Shortly after the Mineral earthquake, he made a surprising discovery.

“I went to a customer who had a radon monitor at home, a plug in device where they could detect, yes, after the earthquake it went up twice as much.”

And he heard of other cases where the same thing happened.

Read more here.

Health officials hope new radon map will spur home testing

The Minnesota Department of Health is promoting a new interactive statewide map of radon levels to encourage residents to test for the carcinogenic gas.

The department said about two in five homes have dangerously high radon levels. Dan Tranter, supervisor of the Health Department's radon program, said he hopes the new map will spur people to test for the gas, which is the No. 2 cause of lung cancer.

All homes should be tested for radon even where the new map suggests the overall radon threat is relatively low, Tranter said.

"There are differences between counties when you look at the map you'll see southern Minnesota [and] western Minnesota tend to have higher radon levels, but we do see high radon levels across the state," said Tranter. "Every county, every ZIP code has high radon levels. So the way the public should use this is to stimulate their interest in the subject."

Main office at Portland's Lent School closed due to high radon levels

A second round of radon testing in six rooms at four Portland schools revealed persistent very high levels of radioactive radon in the Lent School main office, so office functions have been moved to another room in the school, district officials announced late Thursday.

It is the latest in a long string of environmental safety problems revealed by officials in Oregon's largest school district this spring and summer.

Radon is an invisible, odorless gas that occurs naturally in the ground. Exposure over long periods of time can lead to lung cancer. Even when vented 24 hours a day, the Lent office gave off radon readings at three time the federal danger threshold....

Full article here: http://www.oregonlive.com/education/index.ssf/2016/06/main_office_at_portlands_lent.html

Cancer-causing radon gas shuts Portland school cafeteria

The cafeteria at Alliance High School in Northeast Portland has been closed after a second round of testing showed dangerously high levels of cancer-causing radon gas, Portland school district officials announced late Friday afternoon.

The test results indicate they were emailed to the school district on Tuesday; it was unclear why school district officials waited three days to make them public.

Alliance, a small alternative high school emphasizing professional-technical skills, is located on Northeast Alberta Street and serves about 200 students, mostly age 17 and older. Its building is the former Meek Elementary...

Read full article at he The Oregonian/OregonLive: http://www.oregonlive.com/education/index.ssf/2016/06/cancer-causing_radon_gas_shuts.html

More focus on radon safety after new study points out cancer risk

A new study should cause concern for some Morgan County residents who may be living in a home with elevated levels of radon.

A new study released last month by the American Cancer Society indicates exposure to high levels of radon could lead to increased risk of bone marrow cancer and lymph node cancer, among other types of common blood cancers.

Read and hear radio clip here at WLDS/WEAI Radio: http://wlds.com/news/more-focus-on-radon-safety-after-new-study-points-out-cancer-risk/

Study raises renewed radon concerns

A new study about the role radon might play in blood cancers is raising renewed attention for the colorless, odorless gas.

Radon occurs naturally in the atmosphere from the decay of uranium and radium in the soil. When it is able to seep in through cracks in a house’s foundation and becomes trapped, it can accumulate in levels considered dangerous to people.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has said for decades that radon is the second most frequent cause of lung cancer — behind only cigarette smoking — and is estimated to cause 21,000 lung cancer deaths a year in the U.S. Experts say it is the leading cause of lung cancer among non-smokers.

A study by the American Cancer Society now indicates exposure to high radon levels could increase the risk of hematologic cancers — common blood cancers including bone marrow and lymph node cancers.

Students recognized for local radon project

Superior’s Advanced Biology class recently competed at the 12th Annual Clean Air and Healthy Homes Program. On May 17, the students took their data regarding a remediation project they did at the school earlier this year.

The project stemmed from a class where students received radon detectors from Clean and Healthy Homes. They tested radon in the school and found high levels, especially in the basement. As a result, the students created a remediation project to help eliminate the noxious gas. Their efforts were successful and it lead to a presentation at the Annual Montana Science Fair held in March at the University of Montana.

At the Clean Air and Healthy Homes competition in Missoula, they presented their results to a cast of scientific judges. Superior students competed against 180 students from eight schools from around western Montana and Idaho.

Grand Forks receives grant for radon education in schools

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Reinvestment Fund is supporting health care officials, educators and community leaders in Grand Forks who will work to address the risk of developing radon-induced lung cancer by creating an education program for children.

The goal is to raise awareness of the cancer-causing gas so more people will test for it and mitigate the problem if levels are too high, UND School of Medicine and Health Sciences professor Gary Schwartz said.

"Radon is really an invisible but very real health hazard for North Dakotans, and a lot of people don't know anything about it," he said.

Radon is an odorless, colorless gas that is produced by decaying uranium in the earth. It is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the U.S., according to the according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

Radon in Home Now Linked to Blood Cancers in Women

Residential exposure to radon, a known carcinogen for lung cancer, has now been shown to increase the risk for hematologic malignancies in women, although not in men. The increase in risk was seen after even moderate levels of exposure, according to a large prospective study of the general population in the United States.

The results were published online March 22 in Environmental Research.

"Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer and now we have this second set of cancers that we think is associated with even moderate levels of radon," said lead researcher Lauren Teras, PhD, strategic director of hematologic cancer research at the American Cancer Society (ACS) in Atlanta.

People should test their homes and follow the remediation procedure recommended by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). "Once they have gone through the process, people can eliminate or vastly reduce their exposure to radon," she told Medscape Medical News.

Radon testing is becoming more common with homeowners

More Minnesotans are testing their homes for radon, the radioactive gas that occurs naturally in the ground and can seep into homes. It’s estimated that 21,000 lung cancer deaths a year in the United States are attributed to radon exposure.

The Minnesota Department of Health said earlier this year that testing has doubled in the past two years, thanks to awareness efforts and a new state law that requires sellers of homes to tell potential buyers whether a home has been tested, and, if so, what the levels are.

But what happens after tests of the levels in a basement or living space exceed state standards for safety?

A call should go out to a radon mitigator. The fix for radon is relatively easy, experts say. A job usually starts at $1,500. Costs can be higher depending on the difficulty of getting under a slab and installing piping to release the radon safely through a roof vent. Other work can include sealing areas where radon is encroaching into a home.