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Radon in the News

5 Questions About Radon: a Q&A with PA Radon Program Manager

NAME: Robert K. Lewis
TITLE: Program manager, radon division
COMPANY: Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection
YEARS IN FIELD: 25

Q: What is radon gas, and how does it get into homes?

A: Radon is a naturally occurring, radioactive gas, arising from the breakdown of uranium that is found distributed in the soil and rocks of the earth’s crust.

Pennsylvania is particularly prone to radon problems compared with much of the rest of the country. This is due to our geology and soil characteristics.

Breathing a Sigh of Relief: Reducing Indoor Air Pollution

Is the air in your home making you sick? After a recent sinus infection, I began to re-evaluate the quality of the air inside my home. According to an oft-cited statistic from the American Lung Association, Americans spend an average of 90 percent of their time indoors, yet the air inside our homes can be two to five times more polluted than the air outdoors.

Here are some suggestions for reducing indoor air pollution that will have your lungs breathing a sigh of relief.

Dust Mites

Dust mites are nasty-looking creatures that are a frequent contributor to allergies and asthma attacks. Measuring only 1/100th of an inch, they resemble microscopic insects with eight legs and no wings or antennae. Because mites consume dead skin cells, they tend to congregate in our bedding, carpets, rugs and furniture. According to Dustmites.org, "Densities of dust mites in the typical used mattress can range from 100,000 to 10 million individual mites."

Video: EPA's Deputy Assistant Administrator for the Office of Air and Radiation Tells Her Personal Radon Story

Video: EPA's Deputy Assistant Administrator for the Office of Air and Radiation Tells Her Personal Radon Story

Janet McCabe, Deputy Assistant Administrator for the Office of Air and Radiation at EPA, talks about her personal radon experience.

Watch the video.

Read the full transcript.

About the House: How Radon Finds its Way into Our Homes

Rob Kinsey has been a licensed builder for 25 years and is a home inspector with more than 15 years of experience.

Sturgis, Mich. — Last week’s column addressed the issue of radon testing. It pointed out that radon is considered to be the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States. What it didn’t give was much information about radon itself.

Radon is a silent killer. It relies on stealth, and apathy. By its nature, it is silent. And, as I noted last week, it is immune to detection by our five senses. It’s invisible, patient and relies on us doing nothing. Essentially it uses the adage, out of sight, out of mind.

Radon is a naturally occurring gas. It comes from the breakdown of uranium deep within the ground. Please do not ask me how a rock can break down into other things and along the line become a deadly gas. That science is advanced well beyond my education. But then again so is chemistry and flying through space — yet I believe in them.

Utah Homes Have Higher Level of Radon Gas Than National Average

SALT LAKE CITY - In the United States nearly 1 in 15 homes are estimated to have elevated levels of radon. In Utah, one in three homes tests high. The Utah Safety Council is urging Utahns to test their homes for radon.

Radon is a naturally occurring, odorless, tasteless, radioactive gas produced by the breakdown of uranium in rocks and soil. Radon enters homes and buildings through cracks and other openings surrounded by soil. Radon is not dangerous when diluted by outdoor air, but when trapped inside a home or building it can build to dangerous levels.

Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States. An estimated 21,000 people die each year from radon-related cancer. After being inhaled, radon gas decays into radioactive particles. As the particles break down in the lungs they release small bursts of energy that can damage sensitive lung tissue and lead to lung cancer.

'I Was Very Confident In My Ignorance:' Woman Whose Husband Died From Radon-Related Cancer Now Works To Inform Others

'I Was Very Confident In My Ignorance:' Woman Whose Husband Died From Radon-Related Cancer Now Works To Inform Others

Gloria Linnertz had no idea that a silent killer was lurking in her Waterloo home.

Her husband, Joe, went to the doctor in late 2005 because his liver enzymes were elevated. After a series of tests, an oncologist informed the couple that Joe had stage IV lung cancer with only weeks to live.

“When we asked the oncologist what could have caused Joe’s cancer, he said known causes of lung cancer are tobacco and radon gas. My husband hadn’t smoked in 27 years and led a healthy lifestyle,” Linnertz said.

But their home harbored dangerous levels of radon, which Linnertz maintains was responsible for her husband’s death.

“We had no idea that we were living with over four times the EPA radon action level in our home for 18 years. I didn’t know that until one month after Joe’s death. He died six weeks after he was diagnosed,” she said. Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas that comes from radioactive decay in the soil. The gas is colorless, odorless and tasteless.

Has Your Home Had a Radon Test?

Radon kills.

You’ve never seen it or smelled it or tasted it, and you probably don’t know anyone who’s suffered from its effects.

But after smoking, it’s the No. 1 cause of lung cancer in the United States, responsible for 21,000 deaths annually. That’s more than the deaths attributed to drunk driving, drownings and home fires – combined.

It can attack children and adults alike.

Radon comes from the natural breakdown of uranium in soil, rocks and water, but in the home, the gas gets into the air you breathe, and the radiation it carries can cause cancer.

South Dakota is a high-risk state when it comes to radon, and the gas can get into any type of building. The greatest risk, however, is where people spend the most time – in their own homes. And the winter, when homes are closed, is the worst time for significant radon exposure.

Radon, The Silent Killer

CIBOLA COUNTY – Radon has been identified as this country’s second leading cause of lung cancer. High levels of the gas have been identified in every state, according to the EPA.

A naturally occurring, odorless and colorless gas, it is produced by the breakdown of uranium in soil, rocks and water. The gas can enter buildings through openings or cracks in the foundation. Radon decays into radioactive solids called radon daughters. These “daughters” attach to dust particles in the air. Inhalation of the gas has been linked to lung cancer.

Mortality statistics for last year indicate that radon caused more deaths than drunk driving, fires and carbon monoxide, explained World Health Organization officials.

Radon Testing Could Mean Difference Between Life and Death

Watch this news segment.

It's a cheap home test that could end up saving you and your family - a radon test. According to state health departments, Nebraska has very high incidents of radon in homes; Adams and Buffalo Counties having some of the highest concentrations.

News Five's Anthony Pura shows us how an inexpensive test can save you and your family.

It may be seeping into your home - high amounts of radon gas and you don't even know it.

"You can't see it, taste it, and smell it, so every house is suitable to radon," said Dick Hansen, Top to Bottom Home Inspection.

It's the second leading cause of lung cancer, right behind cigarettes.

"It's a long term issue. It might take 20 years before you can get lung cancer," Hansen said.

Radon Levels High in 1 of 5 Connecticut Homes

Radon Levels High in 1 of 5 Connecticut Homes

It's the leading cause of lung cancer in non-smokers. The best time to test your home? Between November and March.

Every single home in Connecticut should be tested for radon, according to the Connecticut Department of Public Health. Elevated levels of radon exposure can cause lung cancer, even in people who have never smoked.

“Radon is present at elevated levels in about one out of every five homes in Connecticut,” Commissioner Dr. J. Robert Galvin said in a statement released earlier this month. “However, because you can’t see or smell radon, people often are unaware that there might be a silent killer in their homes.”