Radon in the News
Ringwood and West Milford Should Test for Radon, Said County Officials
Ringwood and West Milford residents will get first dibs on a free test kit to determine whether their homes are at elevated risks for radon gas.
The Passaic County Department of Health has teamed up with the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Radon Bureau in a special radon awareness program to promote testing for radon in homes. With the Radon Awareness Program, the DEP provides outreach assistance to endorse household radon testing.
"Testing is the only way to know if you and your family are at risk from radon," said Passaic County Freeholder Terry Duffy, a West Milford resident, in a press release from Passaic County. "Radon testing is easy and problems can be fixed."
Lung cancer refers to several different types of cancer which begin in the linings of the lungs. Lung cancer is currently the deadliest cancer, killing 1.3 million people per year. The five-year survival rate for lung cancer is less than 15%. Fortunately, however, lung cancer is also one of the most easily prevented of the major cancers. By far the most significant risk factor for lung cancer is tobacco use, including cigarette smoking.
ONEIDA — The city of Oneida was named the recipient of a $400,000 grant that will help residents keep their homes safe.
The Community Development Block Grant, awarded on Friday by New York State Housing Trust Fund Corporation’s Office for Community Renewal, will provide funds to rehabilitate at least 16 homes in the city. As in recent years, the city will continue to take a scattered site approach in its selection of homes.
The Scattered Sites Housing Rehabilitation Program allows eligible homeowners city-wide to apply for funding the city receives through grants. In the past the city has implemented a targeted approach to dispense funding by selecting a specific neighborhood to rehab, Planning Director Cassie Rose said.
It's odorless, tasteless, invisible and is the second leading cause of lung cancer after smoking.
And it could be in your home.
It is radon.
Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas that results from the breakdown of uranium. It's found in soil and rock.
It finds its way into homes by seeping through cracks in foundations, walls and joints, said George Fagella, who runs the Indoor Radon Program for the California Department of Health.
Fagella has been working for years to find out where radon is located in California, and has since discovered that it has shown up in various areas that were previously thought to have a low probability of having radon.
"We thought there was no radon in Tulare County," said Dr. Karen Haught, health officer for the Tulare County public health officer.
The Health and Human Services secretary has approved changes that will make it easier for some people who worked at the Miamisburg Mound Plant in the 1960s and 1970s to qualify for federal compensation and medical benefits if they develop cancers that can be caused by radiation exposure.
Kathleen Sebelius last week signed a letter concurring with government scientists from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, who in May said some workers may have been exposed to three isotopes of radon that leaked into an area undiscovered for 20 years.
Discussion about the danger posed by radon was more than theoretical for Alderwoman Karen Young last week.
"It hit very close to home," she said by telephone Tuesday.
Young bought a 60-year-old house at auction that she said tested positive July 9 for three times the safe level of radon set by the Environmental Protection Agency. Although no ordinance called for it, she ordered the radon test a week before her family, including a 22-month-old grandchild, moved in.
Young said she spent $850 to install a radon vent system that rendered the house safe.
"It's a small price to pay," she said, considering that radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer.
The EPA cites radon as a particular danger to the very young, the elderly and frail.
When it was time to adopt the city's residential building codes July 15, Young was glad the discussion turned to radon.
If you stop smoking, does your increased cancer risk eventually return to zero? Can eating carrots protect against lung cancer? Should a recovering cancer patient test for radon, and are there other risks to be aware of in the home? Is there an estrogen-lung cancer link? These are among the questions readers recently posed by readers of the Consults blog. Dr. Derek Raghavan, director of the Taussig Cancer Institute at the Cleveland Clinic, responds.
Stopping Smoking? Foods to Fight Cancer?
Q.In college, someone told me that they’d heard that if you smoked in your younger days, and gave it up by the time you turn 30, all of the damage incurred earlier could reverse itself. Is there any truth in this?
Also, I read somewhere that consuming carrots was beneficial for protection against lung cancer. Is there any truth in this? If not, are there any foods that might help?
A.Dr. Raghavan responds:
Thousands more homeowners in the Westcountry have been advised to take action over a natural radioactive gas that seeps into homes across the region.
Cornwall, Devon and Somerset are hotspots for radon, a colourless and odourless naturally occurring gas, thanks chiefly to the geology of the Westcountry and its granite moorlands. It is responsible for an estimated 1,100 lung cancer deaths a year.
After reviewing the latest scientific evidence, the Health Protection Agency (HPA) has launched a new initiative to reduce concentrations of radon in UK homes.
It is maintaining its current "action level" for radon gas of 200 becquerels per cubic metre but has also introduced a new "target level" which is half that amount.
The new measure has been introduced after research provided scientists with a greater understanding of the risks to health of exposure to radon below the action level.
The Queen has been urged to have her Scottish holiday home tested for cancer-causing gas after health officials warned it is in a high-risk radon zone.
Balmoral Castle is among thousands of residences being offered a free safety check after a study found it was in a hot spot for the naturally occurring gas.
The Health Protection Agency (HPA) said the Queen’s Highland retreat was in an area in the second highest risk category for radon, which causes around 200 lung cancer deaths in Scotland every year. Council officials in Aberdeenshire have written to 3,000 addresses in Deeside, including Balmoral, schools and hospitals, offering free tests.
A spokesman for the HPA declined to say if Balmoral had accepted the offer, but added: “All addresses in radon-affected areas in Aberdeenshire which have not already had a valid measurement have been sent a letter offering a test.”
Radon is a widely present, radioactive gas that results from the decay of natural uranium in our soil and water. It is odorless and tasteless, so it can only be detected with special kits made for this purpose. If you detect unsafe radon levels in your home, take steps to eliminate the problem and limit further contamination. Continued radon exposure can lead to serious health consequences.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, radon exposure is the leading cause of lung cancer among non-smokers in the United States. The agency cites two studies that show conclusively that breathing low levels of radon can produce cancer in the lungs, and urges testing. The risk increases dramatically for smokers as opposed to non-smokers. Exposure to radon also increases the lower in the earth you are, meaning that basements and first story rooms will have greater levels of radon exposure than higher floors.