Radon in the News
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:
ATLANTA -- Lung cancer kills thousands of Americans every year. Smoking, radon, and secondhand smoke are the leading causes of lung cancer.
Although lung cancer can be treated, the survival rate is one of the lowest for those with cancer.
From the time of diagnosis, between 11 and 15 percent of those afflicted will live beyond five years, depending upon demographic factors. In many cases lung cancer can be prevented.
Radon is a form of ionizing radiation and a proven carcinogen.
EPA estimates that about 20,000 lung cancer deaths each year in the U.S. are radon-related. 85% of radon-induced lung cancer die within 4-5 years of diagnosis.
Lung cancer is the only known effect on human health from exposure to radon in air.
Two studies show definitive evidence of an association between residential radon exposure and lung cancer.
The two studies, a North American study and a European study, both combined data from several previous residential studies.
Former mayor Bruce Snead has been named director of Engineering Extension at Kansas State University.
Snead has been a state extension specialist in residential energy, radon and indoor air quality at K-State since 1982. In the 1980s much of his work involved energy efficiency in existing and new homes, and solar energy applications for homes and businesses.
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Watch this news segment.
Metro is taking steps to lower radon levels inside schools following a NewsChannel 5 investigation.
Initial tests for the cancer causing gas showed high levels of radon at several schools.
On Wednesday, the Health Department released its latest round of tests, including re-tests from three schools. The tests reveal Metro has lowered radon levels at some schools, but other schools are still testing high.
Parents and employees at Two Rivers Middle have been concerned ever since the first round of tests showed some classrooms were more than ten times higher than what the EPA recommends.
"People are on edge," said PTO President Kelly Cooper after seeing the first test results. "Until we get those results back, I'm sure we'll have a lot worries about it."
When you make that decision to weatherize your home for energy savings, take a minute to also consider what effect these measures may have on your indoor air quality, especially on radon levels.
Radon, the naturally occurring soil gas, invisible and odorless, becomes a concern when it accumulates to unsafe levels inside buildings. High levels of radon can cause lung cancer and is blamed for about 21,000 deaths in the U.S. each year. Fortunately, testing for radon is simple and inexpensive, and every home can and should be tested.
Many people erroneously believe that having a drafty home disqualifies them from having a radon problem. The reasoning is that with all the fresh air coming in, indoor air contaminants are diluted or flushed out. This may or may not be true.
Radon levels far above amounts posing cancer risks plagued the basement of Ann Arbor's city hall where police officers worked for many years, city records show.
Top city officials were aware of the problems, reports show, but measures taken — including a mitigation system installed in the 1990s — failed to keep radon below federal safety levels, and it wasn't until 2009 that the city moved employees out of the basement.
Members of the police officers union believe there may be a link between the radon in the air they breathed in the basement offices and health issues experienced by several officers, including two recent deaths.
Watch this news segment.
So you've glanced over your home and addressed all the safety risks such as lead paint and asbestos, but what about the dangers you can't see.
Here we have a typical Sioux Empire basement...but something is lurking in the air you can't see or smell...and what makes this scene so scary is the fact that most people don't even know they have it...a radioactive gas called radon.
"Actually South Dakota know much this it's an up and coming thing that people are just now becoming aware of,"said Co-President of Radon Mitigation Systems, Mike Hartman.
So what is radon? Well, it's a by product of uranium decomposing in the soil . It's a colorless, odorless, tasteless gas, but the most important thing you need to know...According to the EPA Radon exposure is the second leading cause of lung cancer after smoking.
A home inspection often means the difference between a sale and no sale, even if the deal that results isn't exactly what the owner expected.
Buyers and sellers typically recognize the need for a home inspection. Still, it may put both sides of a sale on edge.
Sellers fear the inspector will find something amiss that slashes the price. Buyers fear the house they want will have problems.
Today, with so many houses for sale, inspections have become the chief tool for haggling over price.
"We are a coupon-clipping society," with people trying to save every penny they can, said Noelle Barbone, manager of Weichert Realtors' Media, Pa., office. "Real estate is no different."
Though he isn't always aware how the negotiations proceed after his work is done, Harris Gross, of Engineers for Home Inspection in Cherry Hill, N.J., said buyers were more apt to use an inspection report as leverage in this lean housing market than in the boom.
The Metro Public Health Department on Monday released preliminary results from more radon tests conducted at seven Metro Nashville Public Schools.
These results are for Margaret Allen and Oliver middle schools and Glencliff, Julia Green, Lakeview, Shayne and Tusculum elementaries. All except Shayne showed radon levels high enough for the Environmental Protection Agency to suggest intervention.
The health department has completed initial radon tests in 42 schools. All of the results are posted on the school district’s website, www.mnps.org.
A Metro ordinance requires the health department to periodically test all school buildings. Radon is a radioactive gas released during the decay of uranium, which naturally occurs in rocks and soil in Middle Tennessee.