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Radon in the News

Radon Test Results in Wisconsin Area Raise Red Flags

The results of radon testing in the Fox Valley are in — and it's not good news, especially in the Neenah-Menasha area.

The latest testing data compiled by the state Department of Health Services suggests nearly half the homes in Winnebago, Outagamie, Waupaca and Calumet counties contain radon concentrations surpassing the federal safety standard.

The readings reported in homes in Winnebago and Waupaca counties were off the charts, registering radon concentrations some 60 times higher than what the EPA deems safe.

David Daniels, the owner of Radon Specialists of Wisconsin in Neenah, knows that some residents question the prevalence of radon contamination in and near their homes. But he said that should not deter them from testing radon levels in their homes, using inexpensive and widely available radon test kits.

States Pursue Radon Limits in Drinking Water as EPA Action Lags

States are taking the lead with studying levels of radon in drinking water and air even as federal regulators lag, as a coincidence of geology and population density leaves some more at risk than others of suffering from the naturally occurring radioactive toxin.

Nine states have guidelines for radon in drinking water, with New Jersey considering the most stringent levels, fourfold tighter than a limit proposed but never mandated by U.S. EPA in 1999.

Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, Maine, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Vermont, Massachusetts and Wisconsin are the other states that have some guidance levels for the chemical, said Ted Campbell, a hydrogeologist with the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources, and chairman of a committee tasked with recommending its own levels.

But most of the recommendations are at levels scientists say are insufficient to protect human health.

Radon is Linked with 10 Percent of Lung Cancer Deaths

Long-term exposure to residential radon is responsible for about 10 per cent of lung cancer deaths, according to experts in Canada. The combination of smoking and long-term radon exposure drastically increases the risk of lung cancer, the Canadian Medical Association (CMA) recently stated.

“Many Canadians are not aware of the risks from residential radon gas and what they can do to stay healthy,” noted Dr Jeff Turnbull, President of the CMA. “With winter approaching, physicians want to make sure their patients are aware of this potential health hazard.”

The CMA, together with the Canadian Lung Association, have joined forces with Health Canada to raise public awareness of the effect radon exposure can have on an individual’s health.

Launching a Radon Data Exchange Workgroup

Launching a Radon Data Exchange Workgroup

Radon remains a leading cause of cancer. As we to ramp up action to reduce radon’s health risk, two areas we can all get smarter on are the collection and use of data. EPA, states, and several national and regional consortia all collect radon data. These programs have differing data needs, reporting requirements, thresholds, calculation protocols, and approaches to validation and verification. Despite these differences, the data collections share common purposes – improved tracking and understanding of radon exposure. Data is information and information is the programmatic foundation for effective radon risk reduction. People leading these programs need access to data that is reliable, consistent, and comparable across programs. While there is a significant amount of radon data, it is decentralized. EPA wants to launch a partnership effort through RadonLeaders.org to better coordinate the collection of radon data, and aggregate as much available data as possible.

EPA has frequently heard about the desire for a new radon map from the radon community. Currently, developing a new radon map is not a feasible project for EPA to take on. EPA hopes that this data project will help us, and the entire radon community better understand how a new map would serve the radon community and the public, and to try to find alternative, more affordable ways to meet those same needs.

In addition, many in the radon community share the view that the existing EPA Radon Zone Map is used inappropriately. When the map was introduced in the early 1990’s it was intended to show potential levels thereby helping states plan their programs. It has been EPA’s position that every home should be test for radon levels. However, the public and policymakers look for “bright lines,” and the zone designations have taken on a life of their own. They are often the reference point for whether or not actions are taken, with the rationale that policy should be focused in “high risk” areas. True, but the reality is that since radon is such a serious health hazard, even Zone 3 is relatively high risk compared to many other environmental pollutants.

There is much to be gained from the coordination of radon data. To be effective, this partnership project must be driven by stakeholders from across the radon community. We all need to participate.

CLICK HERE to register for an initial meeting. You can also provide your immediate thoughts now. Get involved!

Please respond by Wednesday, December 15, 2010. The first step in this effort will be a conference call on Friday, December 17, 2010 to discuss this work.

The Dirty Truth? Tufts Prof Will Touch on Uranium Mining’s Effects on Reproduction

The Dirty Truth? Tufts Prof Will Touch on Uranium Mining’s Effects on Reproduction

The rise of the Atomic Age in the 1940s carried with it the promises of new energy and economic frontiers. It built towns in the Southwest and provided jobs.

And then, the industry packed up and left, though it left much of itself behind in the form toxic waste and economically exhaled towns.

It’s in the industry’s remains that Doug Brugge, a professor of public health and community medicine at Tufts University, toils. He’s done oral histories on mining’s impacts on the Navajo Nation and has followed that work up with studies on the heath impacts of uranium mining and the ethical issues in researching the problem. In a sense, he’s an expert in devastation.

“The majority of the studies I have read suggest that there are health problems with exposure,” he said. “It points toward concern rather than away from it.”

Brugge is in town this week to discuss the issue in a talk titled “Dirty Secrets: the Health Effects of Uranium Mining — New Research.”

Manitoba, Canada a Hotbed for Radon

Manitoba, Canada a Hotbed for Radon

OTTAWA -- More homes in Manitoba tested positive for high levels of cancer-causing radon than anywhere else in the country, Health Canada reported this week.

Health Canada is spending two years testing radon levels in 18,000 Canadian homes. The first 9,000 homes, tested last fall and winter, found seven per cent of homes had radon levels over the national guideline of 200 becquerels per metre cubed.

In Manitoba, nearly one in four homes exceeded that level, with 22.1 per cent having levels between 200 and 600, and 1.4 per cent surpassing 600.

A becquerel is a standard unit for measuring radiation intensity.

Health Canada refused to release the number of homes tested in Manitoba.

Radon Expert Talks about the Deadly Gas on Local TV News

Burlington, Vermont -

According to the EPA, radon exposure in the home is responsible for 20,000 lung cancer deaths each year in America. Only smoking causes more lung cancer.

Radon expert Paul Lyman appeared on The :30 to tell us more about the deadly gas.

From new to drafty old homes and homes with or without basements, homes of all types can have a radon problem. How the home was built can be a factor on radon levels in homes.

Aside from professional testing like Lyman offers and commercially available testing kits, the state also offers a free longer term testing option.

For more info, watch the video from The :30, http://www.wcax.com/Global/story.asp?S=13613493.

More information on radon -- www.healthvermont.gov -- www.epa.gov/radon/pubs/citguide.html

Reducing Community Exposure to Radon: A Plan for Community Action

Reducing Community Exposure to Radon: A Plan for Community Action

Citizens for Clean Air in Pueblo for Education, Research, Action (CCAP-ERA), is a non-profit community organization whose mission is to protect the health and quality of life of residents of Southern Colorado. It works through paid staff, volunteers, community partnerships, and grant-funded projects to sponsor public education programs, data-gathering, and activities designed to reduce human exposure to toxic substances, primarily those present in air. It also strives to promote environmental justice among the diverse citizenry of Pueblo and Southern Colorado.

Geological Survey Pinpoints Ages Of New Jersey’s Oldest Rocks

TRENTON — How old are the oldest rocks in New Jersey and where are they located? Perhaps these questions haven’t exactly kept you up at night, but geologists have been wondering about them for a long time.

They know that the rocks in the mountains of North Jersey’s Highlands, remnants of ancient Appalachian Mountains that at one time rivaled the Rockies in might, are the oldest in New Jersey. They also accept that these rocks are about a billion years old. But they never knew precisely how old — until now.

The New Jersey Geological Survey, within the Department of Environmental Protection, teamed up with the U.S. Geological Survey and the Australian National University in a project funded by private grants to provide the most precise dating ever of New Jersey’s oldest rocks.

Unsafe Levels of Toxic Radon Gas Found in half of Households in Fox Cities, WI

Unsafe Levels of Toxic Radon Gas Found in half of Households in Fox Cities, WI

NEENAH — What Fox Cities-area homeowners don't know about radon, an invisible, cancer-causing gas, could hurt them and their families down the road.

That's particularly true in this four-county region, where about one of every two homes tested for radon last year produced results exceeding federal safety guidelines.

David Daniels, the owner of Radon Specialists of Wisconsin in Neenah, understands if some Fox Valley residents question the prevalence of radon contamination in and near their homes. But he said that should not deter them from testing radon levels in their homes, using inexpensive and widely available radon test kits.

Radon's invisibility and the lack of state laws recognizing its role in causing lung cancer tend to undermine knowledge and acceptance of a radon "epidemic" in the Fox Valley, Daniels said. He argues the health risks posed by radon exposure probably is much greater here than even 2009 data compiled by the state and local health departments implies.