Radon in the News
When Laura Larsson moved to Montana from Oregon in 1998, she had no clue what radon was.
Today the 39-year-old mother and professor is well-educated about the gas and is on a mission to educate others about the potential health hazard.
With the help of a three-year, $350,000 research grant, Larsson, an assistant professor at the College of Nursing at Montana State University, aims to reduce the number of radon-related lung cancer illnesses and associated deaths.
Larsson learned about radon, an odorless, tasteless, cancer-causing carcinogen, when she had a baby in 2001. Colleagues advised her to have her house checked for radon before bringing the infant home. She discovered the quantity was more than three times the acceptable level.
“I thought, ‘Holy cow, I better get this fixed,’ “ Larsson said. She did, but her interest was piqued.
Radon is found throughout Montana. Regions of the state where concentrations are high depend on geology.
Researchers have identified characteristic patterns of molecules called microRNA (miRNA) in the blood of people with lung cancer that might reveal both the presence and aggressiveness of the disease, and perhaps who is at risk of developing it. These patterns may be detectable up to two years before the tumor is found by computed tomography (CT) scans.
The findings could lead to a blood test for lung cancer, according to a researcher with the Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center -- Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute who helped lead study.
"We found patterns of abnormal microRNAs in the plasma of people with lung cancer and showed that it might be possible to use these patterns to detect lung cancer in a blood sample," says principal investigator Dr. Carlo M. Croce, professor of molecular virology, immunology and medical genetics, and director of the Human Cancer Genetics program.
LEXINGTON, Ky. (May 5, 2011) − Boyle County homeowners who participated in a University of Kentucky College of Nursing radon study earlier this year were recently recognized at a reception hosted by UK's Radon Policy Research Program. The purpose of the reception was to recognize the recipients of the free home mitigation systems and to provide all the study participants with additional information on radon and the mitigation process.
The "Test and Win" study involved recruiting Boyle County homeowners who were interested in testing their homes for radon, an odorless, colorless, naturally occurring, radioactive gas that is known to cause lung cancer in humans. Eligible participants completed an online survey, received free radon test kits, tested their homes for radon and returned the test kits for analysis.
For more than a year, I lived with a quiet, invisible potential killer in my Northeast area home.
Instead of tackling the problem, I did improvements like planting flowers, lawn work, reroofing, caulking and tearing out wall-to-wall carpet to strip and refinish the oak woodwork.
An inspection when I bought the house revealed that I needed to take care of one major improvement that until this year I put off. The inspector found that the radon level in the house was 14. Four is acceptable.
Radon is a colorless, odorless gas that the Environmental Protection Agency has identified as the leading cause of lung cancer for non-smokers in the U.S. Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas that results from the breakdown of radioactive material in soil.
Buyers face big expenses when they don't discover these common problems
Mice, mold and leaking bathtubs are among the last discoveries homebuyers want to make after moving into a new home. But that's exactly what a client of Oakland, Calif.-based financial planner Cathy Curtis found shortly after closing.
"The first week she moved in, she emailed me in a panic that there are mice, she needs a new furnace, and the ducts, bathtubs and kitchen cabinets need to be replaced," said Curtis. Total cost to fix everything: tens of thousands of dollars. "I'm surprised that more of this didn't come up in the inspection," she said.
Home inspections, it turns out, are much more limited than many first-time buyers realize.
Lisa Loper, member of the Scott Loper Team at RE/MAX Realty Group in Harleysville discusses why homebuyers should test for radon and how Montgomery County stacks up compared to neighboring counties
Besides a general home inspection and a termite inspection, the next most common test performed by homebuyers is a radon test. It is a simple test where the air quality is measured for the span of 2-3 days (longer term tests are available). The cost typically runs between $100 and $125 and it is money well spent.
Radon is a radioactive gas that has been found in homes all over the United States. It comes from the natural breakdown of uranium in soil, rock, and water and gets into the air. Radon typically moves up through the ground to the air above and can get into your home through cracks or other holes in the foundation (even if you don’t have a basement). Your home can trap and accumulate radon causing the levels to be elevated within your home.
Las Vegas, NV (KTNV) – Radon gas is a silent killer that could be seeping into your home undetected. So when a local woman emailed Action News about the high levels of radon in her home, we set out to investigate the situation.
"4.0 and under is safe levels. Mine is 5.7."
Sandra Potop is living in fear after a household test revealed that she has high levels of radon gases in her Henderson home.
"I'm just renting so I don't know what to do about it."
And Sandra isn't alone.
"In the state of Nevada, one out of four homes has tested with elevated levels of radon," says Laura Au-Yeung, Radon Program Coordinator.
Radon specialists say elevated levels are anything over a 4.0 rating in a home radon test kit.
"The last I heard, 21,000 deaths a year results directly from exposure to radon gas in the home," Au-Yeung explains.
"Radon is a class-A carcinogen that, in fact, contributes to the risk of lung cancer," adds Eric Matus, radon physicist.
HELENA — Radioactive elements have been detected in all of the 128 residential wells that were tested in a recent seven-county study in south-central Montana, with 49 wells -- 29 percent of those sampled -- exceeding drinking water standards.
All the wells tested in Lewis and Clark, Silver Bow, Powell, Madison, Deer Lodge and Broadwater counties were sampled for uranium, with 18 showing results above the maximum contaminant levels (MCL) for municipal drinking water of 30 micrograms per liter (ug/L). The highest concentration was 1,130 ug/L.
Of 127 wells sampled for radon, 34 were above the 50 ug/L MCL, with the highest concentration at 45,000. Other radioactive constituents, including alpha and beta radioactivity, were found at various levels.
Private wells may contain carcinogens, and some experts suggest caution when watering gardens.
Denis Thoet tests his well every year for bacteria.
But the West Gardiner vegetable farmer said he never thought to check for arsenic or uranium, known carcinogens.
An estimated 11 percent of Maine homes with private wells have levels of arsenic that exceed current health benchmarks, as many as 20 percent have elevated radon levels and an estimated 4 percent have elevated uranium levels, according to state statistics.
And while the state has a robust safety program for public water supplies, there are no regulations for these substances in private wells.
That has some of the more environmentally sensitive gardeners questioning what they're putting on their plants.
We know the air outside is bad—the latest headlines tell us half of Americans live in regions with unhealthy ozone or particle pollution, which can be particularly risky for people with chronic lung disease or asthma. But exposure to pollution doesn’t stop when you duck indoors.
Indoor air can be polluted by mold, animal dander, pollen, tobacco smoke, radon, formaldehyde and even asbestos. Breathing in too much of some of those pollutants could increase the risk of lung cancer and may contribute to or aggravate asthma, according to the American Lung Assn.
The Environmental Protection Agency says that there are three ways to improve air quality inside the home. First, eliminate the source of the pollution (for example, get rid of gas stoves and asbestos). Second, improve the ventilation. And third, use an air cleaner.
Note, however, that not all air cleaners get the job done as well as you might like.
The EPA says about the latter: