Radon in the News
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:
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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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.