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Radon in the News

Poolesville, Md. to Install Systems to Remove Radon, Uranium from Well Water

Poolesville, Md. to Install Systems to Remove Radon, Uranium from Well Water

Poolesville is planning to install a radon and uranium removal system on three of its 11 wells.

It is the first community water system in the state to make the installation, said Jay Apperson, spokesman for the Maryland Department of the Environment.

Wells 7 and 10 were taken out of service as a precaution in 2007 after uranium levels were found to be in danger of exceeding the maximum allowable contaminant level.

Since that time, well 7 has exceeded the level, but well 10 has not.

The Environmental Protection Agency sets the maximum allowable contaminant level for uranium at 30 micrograms per liter. It has not established a maximum level for radon.

Poolesville’s 2010-2011 water report found the level for well 7 to be 33.5 micrograms per liter. The level at wells 9 and 10 is 12.05 micrograms per liter, but the radon and uranium removal system is being used to avoid cross-contamination on those sites.

Iowa City Girl Uses Summer to Study Radon Data

While many of her peers are using the summer for a relaxing break, an Iowa City girl is using her summer to study.

Eleanor Mildenstein, 11, has been collecting data to determine if home radon tests are as effective in summer as winter, lobbying legislators to allow the sale of electronic readers in Iowa, and speaking with builders and Realtors about the importance of radon mitigation systems.

“It was a lot of work at first, but in the end it was worth it,” Mildenstein said.

Iowa has the highest percentage of homes in the U.S. that are above Environmental Protection Agency recommended mitigation level, she said.

But it hasn’t been all sweat. Mildenstein, who will start seventh grade at South East Junior High this month, returned from a trip to Fortuna, Costa Rica, where she also discussed her radon project. The trip was a reward for her group placing second in the national Siemens We Can Save the World Challenge for their age range.

Radon Gas in the Home is a Preventable Danger

After cigarettes, exposure is second leading cause of lung cancer, officials say

— CUMBERLAND — Radon gas can, over time, kill you. But making sure your home doesn’t contain harmful levels of the gas only requires a simple test. And radon mitigation doesn’t have to be costly.

“Everyone should test their home for radon,” said Brian Dicken of the Allegany County Health Department.

The test kits available are relatively simple and the test is then sent to a lab, which reports back to the homeowner. Radon gas occurs naturally as uranium in the ground breaks down. Because the gas dissipates quickly, radon isn’t a problem in open areas. In homes, though, the gas can build up, said John DelSignore, a registered sanitarian with the Mineral County, W.Va., health department.

“We’ll provide you with as much information as possible,” he said.

State Decertifies, Fines Radon Specialist

DEP says radon systems weren't installed properly.

The state has taken the unusual step of decertifying a radon specialist who, officials say, improperly installed systems and violated other regulations in Lehigh, Bucks and Montgomery counties.

Homeowners who hired Environmental Concepts Technology should have their radon removal systems inspected, state officials said, because the systems may not be working properly and may be exposing them to dangerous radon gas.

The Department of Environmental Protection announced late last month it had fined the company's owner, Christopher Ford of Abington Township, Montgomery County, $58,875 and decertified him from testing for radon because of problems with his work, including six systems installed in Orefield.

Survey Shows Nearly 75 Percent of Coloradans Aware of Radon Dangers, but Less Than 35 Percent Test Their Homes

DENVER – A study recently released by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment shows that 73 percent of Coloradans surveyed know about radon, an odorless, colorless radioactive gas that is the leading cause of lung cancer in non-smokers and the No. 2 cause of lung cancer overall. The survey also showed that only 34 percent of respondents had tested their homes for the gas, which originates from the decay of naturally occurring uranium in the soil. Harmless when it disperses in the air, radon is dangerous when it collects in homes.

“It’s encouraging that so many people are aware of radon, because most Colorado counties are at high risk for it,” said Chrystine Kelley, radon program manager in the Hazardous Materials and Waste Management Division of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. “The best way to protect your family is to test your home, and we recommend that every Colorado home be tested.”

American Board of Radiology Appoints G. Donald Frey, PhD, as Associate Executive Director for Medical Physics

American Board of Radiology Appoints G. Donald Frey, PhD, as Associate Executive Director for Medical Physics

The American Board of Radiology (ABR) has appointed G. Donald Frey, PhD, as its new associate executive director for medical physics, effective January 1, 2012. Dr. Frey is professor of radiology for the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC). He will replace Stephen R. Thomas, PhD, professor emeritus of radiology, University of Cincinnati, who has served the ABR as associate executive director of medical physics since 2006.

Dr. Frey, a diplomate of the ABR in medical physics, has been a member of the ABR Board of Trustees since 2006. He has served as an ABR examiner since 1996 and has been a member of many ABR committees, including the Physics Exam Restructuring Committee, the Physics Recertification Committee, and the ABR/ACR Committee on Competence. He is currently a member of the Medical Physics Exam Committee and the Physics Maintenance of Certification (MOC) Committee.

Chemists Make First Molecular Binding Measurement of Radon

Even in trace quantities, the radioactive gas radon is very dangerous; it is second only to cigarette smoking as a cause of lung cancer deaths in the United States. The expense and precautions necessary to study it safely have limited research into its properties.Now, University of Pennsylvania chemists have for the first time measured how well radon binds to a molecule, paving the way for future research on it and other noble gasses.

The research was led by associate professor Ivan J. Dmochowski, along with undergraduate Vagelos Scholar David R. Jacobson and graduate students Najat S. Khan and Yubin Bai of the Department of Chemistry in Penn's School of Arts and Sciences. Because radon is so difficult to generate and handle safely, the Penn team collaborated with researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology who have experience in that area.

Their work was published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Pennsylvania DEP Orders Radon Contractor to Surrender Certification, Pay Penalty

NORRISTOWN -- The Department of Environmental Protection today ordered Christopher Ford, of Abington Township, Montgomery County, to surrender his state radon testing certification and pay $58,875 in civil penalties for numerous violations of the Radon Certification Act and Radiation Protection Act.

“Mr. Ford misrepresented the type of state certification held by his firm, and allowed an uncertified employee to perform radon system work,” DEP Southeast Regional Director Joseph A. Feola said. “Our inspectors documented 82 violations of radon system installation standards, along with eight violations of testing and quality assurance regulations.”

DEP noted the violations during June 2010 inspections of 15 radon systems installed by Ford’s firm, Environmental Concepts Technology, and cited him for not discharging radon above roof lines; not sealing floor and wall joints; failing to conduct post-mitigation testing; and not attaching system documentation to radon system units.

Uranium Mining and Radiation

Uranium Mining and Radiation

EXPERTS says the slow decay of uranium that produces radiation is too slow to pose a threat to workers or the general community.

The recent Seventh Australian Uranium Conference brought together prospective miners, researchers and interested members of the public for a wide ranging discussion on the industry ahead of likely proposals to mine uranium in WA.

The issue has often divided West Australians, with concerns ranging from health to environmental issues.

However Curtin University Nanochemistry Research Institute Associate Professor Nigel Marks says radiation is produced every time one atom changes into another atom, and the process is so slow that health risks from radiation are minimal.

“For both types of uranium, it takes about ten changes before it finally turns into lead. So the amount of radiation is related to how much you have of those numbers of atoms and also what the rate of change is—those two things determine the radiation.”

Radon Regulation Varies Widely from State to State

Californians are required to disclose the radon level in their home, if known, before transferring it to a new owner.

Nevadans are not.

In both states, renters are particularly vulnerable.

“There are no regulations to protect renters from radon in Nevada,” said Susan Howe, radon education program director for the University of Nevada Cooperative Extension. “There are no regulations dealing with radon in Nevada, period. There are no laws to protect people when they buy or build homes.”

More people die each year from radon exposure than from drunk driving accidents, falls in the home, drownings and home fires, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

The known carcinogen — undetectable by sight, smell or taste — is the leading cause of lung cancer among nonsmokers and the second-leading cause of lung cancer for smokers. Radon exposure causes an estimated 21,000 deaths per year in the United States.