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Radon in the News

Atlanta homes built with radioactive concrete

An entire condo building in metro Atlanta was built with radioactive concrete, according to an inspection report obtained by the 11Alive Investigators. It's a relatively new phenomenon where radon inspectors and remediation companies are finding the gas emanating not just from the soil but also from building materials.

Radon is an invisible, odorless, radioactive gas that claims more than 20,000 lives a year, according to Environmental Protection Agency. As radioactive particles decay in the lungs, they can cause lung cancer. The EPA estimates 7,000 of the people who die from radon-induced lung cancer are non-smokers. In fact it's considered the number one cause of lung cancer in non-smokers.

"Your entire life, you're accumulating a dose exposure," said Matt Koch with Southern Radon Reduction. Casual exposure isn't a problem, but living with elevated levels of radon in your home for years can be deadly.

New concern about radon risks

The environmental pressure group David Suzuki Foundation has issued a new report about the risks of radon in Canada, especially to homes and workplaces. Although aimed at Canada, many of the points raised are applicable to many countries.

The primary aim of the report is with public education. Although the International Agency for Research on Cancer classifies radon as a known human carcinogen, the report notes that a large number of people are not aware of radon, and fewer still recognize it as a health hazard.

Radon From Your Stove: Why New York Should Enact the No Radon in Natural Gas Legislation

Enjoying the spring air? Well, take a deep breath New York.

Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States and the number one cause of lung cancer among non-smokers, resulting in 21,000 lung cancer deaths every year.

So why am I mentioning this now? Well, recent research reported from scientists at Johns Hopkins reiterates the wisdom of legislation introduced by assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal and senator Diane Savino mandating that all natural gas sold in New York must contain safe radon levels.

Joan A. Casey and her scientific team recently reported that radon levels in Pennsylvania have risen since hydraulic fracturing of natural gas commenced. The researchers said they "found a statistically significant association between proximity to unconventional natural gas wells drilled in the Marcellus shale and first floor radon concentration in the summer," suggesting "a pathway through outdoor ambient air."

Rise of deadly radon gas in Pennsylvania buildings linked to fracking industry

A new study published Thursday reported a disturbing correlation between unusually high levels of radon gas in mostly residences and an oil and gas production technique known as fracking that has become the industry standard over the past decade.

Writing in the journal Environmental Health Perspective, researchers analyzed levels of radon — a colorless, odorless gas that is radioactive and has been linked to lung cancer — in 860,000 buildings from 1989 to 2013. They found that those in the same areas of the state as the fracking operations generally showed higher readings of radon. About 42 percent of the readings were higher than what is considered safe by federal standards. Moreover, the researchers discovered that radon levels spiked overall in 2004, at about the same time fracking activity began to pick up.

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Hong Kong’s background radiation levels ‘astounding’, says former top official

Astounding" levels of background radiation measured in some of the city's poorly ventilated urban areas were almost a third higher than the world average, a former environmental protection official has revealed.

Dr. Mamie Lau May-ming, who retired as principal officer last year, measured background radiation with a Geiger counter at around a dozen points across the city last year, including Sham Shui Po, Sai Kung and Central.

At one covered pedestrian bridge in Nam Cheong, radiation levels hit 0.32 microsieverts per hour and above - 36 per cent higher than the global average of about 0.25.

Roughly the same readings were taken from the stairwells of an old Tai Kok Tsui primary school and a poorly ventilated office building corridor in Central.
By contrast, recordings at the abandoned Japanese city of Tomioka-machi, near the tsunami disaster-hit Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, were 0.65 as of September, she said.

Families struggle with radon in military housing

Marine Col. Anthony White had already lost a kidney to cancer that doctors attributed to living on Camp Lejeune, N.C., where thousands were sickened by contaminated water for more than three decades. So when he found out in 2011 that his home at Okinawa’s Plaza housing area had exposed him and his family to elevated levels of radon, White took action.

He discovered the problem after watching workers install a radon mitigation system at a nearby house that had been vacated by a family leaving Okinawa. He recognized the system from his home in Virginia, where, as in most of the United States, elevated radon levels are a required disclosure upon sale or rental of a home.

On Okinawa, all housing falls under Kadena Air Base and Air Force radon regulations. Kadena’s rules have required that radon levels be five times higher than the EPA action level before a home will be fixed, when funding has been available.

More needed to reduce radon-related cancer

More than 35 years after studies first linked radon to lung cancer, researchers and public health officials are urging new legislation to prevent an estimated 3000 Canadians from dying every year after exposure to the radioactive gas.

Radon is the second-leading cause of lung cancer, after smoking, accounting for about 16% of lung cancer deaths annually, reports the Canadian Cancer Society.
Radon is a naturally occurring by-product of uranium that can seep into any building from the soil. Radon cannot be seen, tasted or smelled. The carcinogen may accumulate in any home — regardless of a region's geographic risk — particularly in basements and crawl spaces that have not been properly ventilated.

Standout Student: Pascal Acree studies radon levels

Last year when Riverwood International Charter School student Pascal Acree was a sophomore in Honors Chemistry, he did his science fair project on the effect of environmental conditions on radon levels in homes. This year, as a junior, he took it to the next level — making a poster and presenting at the international Radon Symposium in Charleston, SC.

He said he was inspired to do the project because of radon test results in his own home.

“My science project examined the effect of environmental conditions on radon levels in a home,” Pascal said. “I was motivated to pursue this because a radon test had recently been performed in our house.

Senate panel OKs plan for more radon prevention in new homes

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Builders in Iowa would be required to install radon mitigation systems in new homes under legislation that has won approval in an Iowa Senate committee.

The bill moved out of the State Government Committee on Wednesday. Under the proposal, new homes must be built with radon mitigation pipes. If the homeowner discovers radon, they can add a fan to use the system.

Radon is a colorless, odorless gas that can leak through cracks in building foundations. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency calls radon the second-leading cause of lung cancer in the U.S. The agency also says Iowa's 99 counties are in the agency's highest risk zone for exposure.

A similar bill was approved by the Democratic-majority Senate two years ago but failed to advance in the Republican-controlled House.

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Canada’s Largest-Ever Home Radon Testing Results Released

The BC Lung Association on January 26, 2015, released the results of the largest ever community-wide home radon testing project done in Canada. Getting more British Columbians to test their homes for radon – the second leading cause of lung cancer after smoking – is a priority for the BC Lung Association. As is ensuring people know how to mitigate a radon problem, if one exists.

During winter 2014, radon test kits were distributed to more than 2000 homes in Prince George and 230 homes in Castlegar and surrounding areas – two areas of the province known to have elevated levels of indoor radon.

Measured in becquerels per cubic metre (Bq/m3), Health Canada recommends home radon levels not exceed a safety threshold of 200 (Bq/m3).On average, one in three Prince George homes and one in two Castlegar homes tested above Health Canada’s suggested safety threshold.