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Radon in the News

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.

Federal Agencies Join Efforts to Fight Radon Exposure

Yesterday, EPA convened leaders from federal agencies for an historic event to generate momentum and create new opportunities for radon risk reduction. This diverse group of leaders, including Department of Defense, DOD; Veterans Administration, VA; Department of Energy, DOE; U.S. General Services Administration, GSA; Department of Housing and Urban Development, HUD; Department of Health and Human Services, HHS; U.S. Department of Agriculture, USDA; and U.S. Department of Interior, DOI, discussed ways the federal government can do more to reduce radon risk in the housing and buildings it owns or influences.

Participants at the summit will reconvene in 90 days to discuss specific actions the Federal Government can take through existing programs to protect families by creating safe and healthy home environments.

Learn more about the Federal Radon Summit and stay tuned for updates by visiting http://www.epa.gov/radon/federal_summit.html.

Alabama Family Discovers How to Beat 'Radon Mountain'

Alabama Family Discovers How to Beat 'Radon Mountain'

MADISON, Al. - 291 Dublin Circle in Madison looks like a place where there's little chance of danger.

It's tucked in the curve on the north side of the street, a four-acre lot huddled among the maples.

Tom and Faye Dickerson have lived here for almost 40 years. They've been here for most of their marriage, raising three children when Jack Clift's farm nudged up to their backyard.

With the children gone, it's unnerving to the Dickersons that they raised a family in a house with such high levels of radon.

"It's the second leading cause of lung cancer after cigarette smoking," Faye Dickerson said. "As we learned more about it, we said we've got to do something about this."

Radon is a cancer-causing radioactive gas, according to radon.com. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Surgeon General's Office have estimated that as many as 20,000 lung cancer deaths are caused each year by radon, the website said.

Health Canada Survey Finds Elevated Radon Levels in Seven Percent of Homes

OTTAWA - Preliminary results from a Health Canada survey suggest that seven per cent of Canadian homes contain elevated concentrations of radioactive radon gas.

Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq said people should test the air in their homes for radon.

"You can't see it, smell it, or taste it," she said Tuesday. "The only way to know if you have a radon problem is to test your home."

The findings from the first year of a two-year project found that New Brunswick, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Yukon had the highest percentages of homes with radon levels above the national guideline.

The national limit is 200 becquerels per cubic metre of air. In New Brunswick, 11.7 per cent of homes had levels between 200 and 600 becquerels and 5.3 per cent had levels above 600 becquerels. In Saskatchewan 14.2 per cent were in the first elevated level, with 1.6 per cent above 600.

Evaluation Program Helps ID Lung Cancer Risks

Delaware Countians at high risk of developing lung cancer may have recently gotten another lease on life.

Thanks to Dr. Raymond J. Vivacqua, medical director of the Crozer Regional Cancer Center, and his participating partners, an evaluation procedure called the Family Lung Assessment Program, which is accessible to all people, offers free identification surveys and low-cost CAT scans for specific populations in jeopardy of developing lung cancer.

“I’m hoping to reduce the number of people scanned so we target the people who need it,” Vivacqua said.

Although the program has been in formation over the past three years and a few studies and scans have been performed, the time has become appropriate for its unveiling, the hematologist/oncologist said.

“The perfect storm has occurred here,” Vivacqua said, highlighting the release of a study backed by the National Cancer Institute.

Radon Revisited

Sam Schneiderman, broker owner of Great Boston Home Team (our Monday guy) looks again at what to do about radon testing.

Last week, I mentioned a story about a radon inspection dispute that ended in court. The buyer wanted to cancel the purchase due to high radon results, but the seller refused to return the buyer’s deposit because the radon test was not performed to EPA standards.

Our vigilant readers reviewed EPA protocols and noted that a radon test done in an unfinished area does not meet EPA guidelines. A spirited discussion about the proper way to test for radon ensued, ending with sesw writing: “Surely you must be able to find an expert who can settle this matter. Otherwise, we are left to fend for ourselves on such a matter.” Good point.

Washington City Council: Test Reveals High Radon Levels

The Washington City Council discussed the high radon level in the dispatch center at its meeting Wednesday night. The dispatch center was tested for radon a few weeks ago, and the results of the test were made public Tuesday. The test revealed that the first floor of the dispatch center has a radon level of 9.3 pCi/L (picoCuries per liter).

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends taking corrective measures to reduce radon levels if they are 4.0 pCi/L or above. Radon gas is the leading cause of lung cancer for non-smokers. The EPA estimates that radon claimed the lives of 20,000 Americans in 2009 through lung cancer. Of these, about 2,900 were people who had never smoked.

In a phone interview Thursday, Washington County Supervisor Wes Rich said he asked the radon testers ­– Breathe Easy Radon Testing in Kalona – to check for the gas on the first floor. Previous radon tests were confined to the basement of the dispatch center.

Check Homes for Radon Gas, Urge Canadian Health Groups

OTTAWA — Canadians should have their homes checked for radon, a colourless and odourless gas that can have potentially deadly effects over time, health organizations warn.

The Canadian Medical Association, the Canadian Lung Association and Health Canada have joined forces to raise awareness about exposure to radon.

Formed by the breakdown of uranium, the naturally occurring radioactive gas is present in all soil. In the open air, radon gas is diluted to low levels and does not pose a health risk. But radon can enter a home through dirt floors, cracks in concrete, joints and basement drains; in enclosed spaces such as basements, the gas can reach levels harmful to health.

"Many Canadians are not aware of the risks from residential radon gas and what they can do to stay healthy," CMA president Dr. Jeff Turnbull said in a release Tuesday. "With winter approaching, physicians want to make sure their patients are aware of this potential health hazard."

Radon Discovered in Florida Homes and Condos

Radon exceeding EPA limits has been discovered in Florida homes and condos. Several independent studies have concluded the source is contaminated concrete.

"You probably thought radon was only found in northern states with rocky soil, well guess again because it’s being discovered in homes and condos all over Florida," according to Kevin Dickenson, a Palm Beach real estate agent with Prudential Florida Realty.

Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer and is responsible for more deaths every year than drunk drivers, according to the EPA. Radon is a naturally occurring, odorless and colorless radioactive gas that can be found in soil, granite, concrete and water. Before you get too excited, radon is also found in the air we breathe, and depending upon where you live, it can be as high as 0.75 pCi/L (picocuries per liter) according to Air Chek, Inc.

The EPA recommends fixing your home if radon levels are 4.0 pCi/L or higher.

Canada plans 800 building code changes

Canada's engineers, architects and builders will get their first look later this month at what could be major revisions to the national building code.

Canadian Consulting Engineer is reporting this week in its online newsletter that the feds will introduce 800 technical changes covering the building code, the fire code and the plumbing code on November 29.

The codes were last updated in 2005.

Some of the changes will encompass public gathering spaces such as sports arenas and stadiums, churches, lecture halls and theaters.

There are changes earthquake design, air quality, radon protection, and water conservation, among others.

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