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Radon in the News

Radon Testing Now Mandatory For Montgomery County Home Sales

Montgomery County is the first local government in the U.S. to mandate testing for radon gas before a home can be sold. The Environmental Protection Agency says homes in the county are at particular risk for having dangerous levels of the gas.

Most single-family homes would have to be tested for radon before they are sold under a measure the county council gave unanimous approval. Maryland state law already encourages home sellers to test for it and mandates that if radon is detected, they tell the potential buyer. But testing isn't required by the state, and county councilman Craig Rice feels home buyers should know what they are getting.

"We are just asking people to test. Just to make sure that they know what may be lurking in their homes unknown that might be a silent, deadly killer," Rice says.

Radon gas is invisible and radioactive. It comes from the breakdown of uranium in rocks and soil. Humans exposed to it have greater rates of cancer and other diseases.

Montgomery Co. Considers Controversial Bill Requiring Home Sellers to Test for Radon

In Maryland, home sellers who know that their homes have elevated radon levels are required to disclose that information to prospective buyers. However, at present, home sellers have no duty to measure the radon levels in their homes.

That could change in Montgomery County if the County Council approves a controversial bill that would mandate radon testing.

Bill 31-15, sponsored by Council members Craig Rice (D-Upcounty) and Sidney Katz (D-Gaithersburg-Rockville), would require home sellers to test their homes for radon and provide the results to prospective home buyers before entering a sales contract. If the bill is enacted, Montgomery County would become the only jurisdiction in the country to mandate radon testing.

Read more here.

Move over, bacon — lots of other things also cause cancer

On Monday, the France-based International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) came out with the strongest findings yet that processed meat (like bacon and ham) causes colorectal cancer in humans.
The agency also found that red meat (beef, lamb, etc.) may increase your risk of developing the same type of cancer.

Americans have a 1 in 20 chance of developing it within their lifetime, and the disease is expected to cause about 49,000 deaths this year.
So, how does eating bacon and other deliciously salty processed meats shape up in terms of overall cancer risk?

Click here to learn about things you can avoid to reduce your risk of developing cancer.

High radon levels in Iowa homes 'surprise' University of Iowa researchers

IOWA CITY, Iowa — You can't see it, you can't smell it, but it causes cancer. It's radon, and a recent study by the University of Iowa suggests it can be found at higher than recommended levels in many Iowa homes.

Radon is a naturally-occurring radioactive gas caused by the uranium in the Earth's crust. It can be found in concentrated levels, often in the lower levels of homes. According to state officials, it's the second leading cause of lung cancer in the nation.

The UI study was conducted in 2013 and published last month. Researchers tested more than 350 homes in the small northwest Iowa town of Akron.

Learn more here.

Bel Air Tests for Radon in Town Hall after Employees Express Concerns

Bel Air town officials have ruled out the carcinogenic radon gas as a source of the health concerns of some town employees after testing showed levels in the bottom level Town Hall do not exceed the outdoor concentration of radon.

"I'm happy to report we're way, way below any kind of a problem area," Public Works Director Steve Kline told town officials during a recent work session.

Some town employees had expressed their concerns about health risks related to radon, a radioactive gas known to cause lung cancer, especially after deaths of employees in recent years.

"There's been some concern that some of the problems downstairs, health-wise, might be as a result of a radon problem," Kline said, referring to the lower level of the building where police department operations are located.

Radon Awareness Week in the City of Fort Collins

The City of Fort Collins encourages residents to test the radon levels in their homes as Radon Awareness Week approaches starting October 19. Radon is a colorless, odorless, naturally-occurring gas associated with serious health concerns such as cancer.

The City offers zero-interest loans to assist with mitigation costs when radon is present. The loans range from $1,000 – $3,000 and can assist with up to 90 percent of the costs associated with radon mitigation. Radon tests must be completed prior to applying for these loans. More information about air quality loans may be found at http://www.fcgov.com/airquality/loan.php.

Additionally, radon test kits are part of the City’s Healthy Homes free in-home air quality assessments. To schedule an assessment, go to www.fcgov.com/healthyhomes.

Read more here.

Students Invited to Make Radon Posters

University of Nevada Cooperative Extension invites Nevada students to showcase their artistic talents and promote radon awareness by entering the Nevada Radon Poster Contest.

The contest is open to all children ages 9 to 14 years old enrolled in public, private, territorial, tribal, Department of Defense and home schools. Children can also enter through a sponsoring group, such as art, computer, library, reading, science, scouting, youth or 4-H clubs.

Radon is a radioactive, colorless, odorless and tasteless gas that comes from the decay of uranium. It accumulates in homes and can cause lung cancer. This type of lung cancer risk is preventable, and the only way to know if a home has elevated levels is to test for it.

Drought can increase radon gas risks

The severe drought baking some parts of the United States—particularly California and the Pacific Northwest—may be increasing the risk of radon gas inside homes.

s water tables drop in some areas, lower depths that can contain uranium and radon are exposed, according to experts. As the uranium ore decays over time, it produces radon, a radioactive gas that has been linked to lung cancer.

"What happens in drought conditions is the aquifers are getting lower and lower and exposing more bedrock and more uranium," said James Connell of A1 Radon in Olathe, Kansas. "Cracks in the ground and cracks in people's foundations allow those radon gases to come up."

Jeanne Case, who lives just outside Portland, Oregon, recently tested for radon at her home and it showed levels three times the safe limit. "It never even occurred to me ... I was so convinced we didn't have it," Case told NBC Portland affiliate KGW-TV.

Hot, Dry Summer may Increase Radon Flow in Your Home

The unusually hot, dry summer is increasing more than just the wildfire danger.

Some experts say it may be increasing the amount of radon gas inside your home.

Radon is a naturally occurring gas that comes from the earth. You can’t see it or smell it, but it is the leading cause of lung cancer in non-smokers.

And while experts say we usually see increased levels of the gas in homes in the wintertime, the dry conditions this summer may also be channeling radon into homes.

“You get drier soils under houses and buildings and that can open up channels, of course dry soils are more porous than damp soil so you can actually have a stronger flow of radon under a building up into it,” said Steve Tucker with Cascade Radon.

Tucker also says opening upstairs windows to bring in the fresh air, something a lot of people do in the summer, can also increase the flow of radon into a home.

That's because radon is driven by both air flow and air pressure inside a home.

Is detection of radon a reason to cancel a home sale?

A home buyer recently wrote to the Washington Post about how, in their professional home inspection, the inspector found they had a faulty garage door and high levels of radon. It was advised that they cancel the contract based on the garage door. But instead of focusing on an early repairable garage door, wouldn’t the high radon levels have also enabled the buyers to cancel the sale?

Radon is a colorless, odorless gas that permeates through the ground in some areas. If you breathe in too much of it, it can cause a lot of physical problems, especially in young children, who may experience all sorts of physical and developmental issues.

Professional home inspectors don’t generally test for radon, but almost every home buyer should have a test done. These tests often include leaving some sort of collection device at the home for a short period of time and then sending the device to a lab to have the results read.