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Radon in the News

Michigan Governor Urging Home Radon Testing


Lansing – Governor Jennifer M. Granholm has declared October 18-24 to be Radon Action Week, and Department of Environmental Quality Director Steven E. Chester is joining her by encouraging state residents to test their homes for the radioactive gas.

“Radon is tasteless, odorless, and colorless, which too often makes it easy to ignore,” said Director Chester. “The reality is that nearly one in eight Michigan homes could have an indoor radon problem and the only way to know if your family is at risk is to test your home.”

Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas found in almost any kind of soil or rock. It travels through the ground, and is quickly diluted when released to the atmosphere, however, when it seeps into homes through openings in the foundation floor or walls, it can build up to unhealthy levels.

Council could have to pay €1m radon gas bill (Ireland)


High levels radon within Wicklow County Council's housing stock could see the council's finances spiralling out of control, as they face a bill of €1 million to bring the radon levels to an acceptable level.

Director of Services Michael Nicholson told members of the council on Monday that Wicklow has one of the highest levels of radon gas in the country.

He said the council currently had 2,200 houses on their books, 1,700 of them which had been built before 1998 when radon prevention measures came into place.

He said that to test each of these houses, at an average cost of €75 per house would cost €165,000. Any remedial works to houses affected would cost between €1,500 and €5,000 per house.

Survey: 1 in 4 homes have high radon (Ely, NV)


With new test results showing one out of four homes in Nevada with elevated levels of radon, University of Nevada Cooperative Extension officials are urging all homeowners to have their homes tested for the cancer-causing gas.

Susan Howe, program director for University of Nevada Cooperative Extension's Radon Education Program, said more than 4,000 homes were tested in Nevada last year - thanks in large part to the more than 4,550 free test kits distributed by UNCE during National Radon Action Month last January.

Although the Nevada State Health Division conducted a radon survey in the late 1980s and early 1990s, the Cooperative Extension's kit-distribution efforts have resulted in thousands of additional tests in homes throughout the state. The data from those more than 5,268 tests shows elevated levels of radon were found in 25.2 percent of all homes tested statewide.

University of Minnesota Extension closings


The University of Minnesota Extension is how the University applies its research to solve problems throughout Minnesota. It operates all over the state to “deliver research-based education and information that is relevant, practical and useful” to organizations and individuals. However, Extension has been forced to close two regional offices this year due to budget pressure.

A major part of this pressure was a $1.7 million cut in funding from the state. State funding at nearly $28 million provides almost half of Extension’s budget. The state has already shown that it does not consider the University a priority by cutting $151 million in total from its budget, but cutting funding for Extension runs directly counter to the interest of Minnesota taxpayers.

Two out of five homes in Douglas test for high levels of radon

Two out of five homes in Douglas test for high levels of radon


Testing during the first half of 2009 revealed two out of five homes tested had elevated levels of the radioactive gas, one of the highest percentages in the state.

Douglas County residents turned in 912 radon tests during the first six months of year, 353 of which had levels higher than the action level set by the Environmental Protection Agency.

When added to previous testing, where 149, homes tested for high levels of radon out 314 usable tests, the total percentage was 40.9 percent. The total of 502 homes is the highest number in the state.

Residents packed Sheridan Acres Volunteer Fire Department in January when free radon testing kits were distributed.

A total of 255 kits were given out on a single evening and more were distributed by the University of Nevada Cooperative Extension.

U of M faculty member plays crucial role in designing new World Health Organization radon gas level recommendations

MINNEAPOLIS / ST. PAUL (09/21/2009) — Bill Angell, a housing studies faculty member in the University of Minnesota’s College of Design and Extension housing technology specialist, is one of the world’s foremost experts on the presence of radon gas in homes and played a crucial role in designing new radon recommendations published today in Geneva by the World Health Organization (WHO). The new guidelines say that radon gas levels in homes should be lowered to about one-third of the previously recommended threshold.

Radon gas is the second leading cause of lung cancer and a class-A carcinogen. The lower threshold means that the number of homes needing radon mitigation in Minnesota will increase by 400,000.

Angell, president of the American Association of Radon Scientists and Technologists and chair of the Prevention and Mitigation Working Group in the WHO International Radon Project, said the revisions were necessary.

New radon limits could cost Sweden billions


Radon is more of a health hazard than has been hitherto known and the World Health Organisation (WHO) has argued for a dramatic cut in limits for homes and buildings.

The change could cost Sweden billions, according to the Swedish National Board of Health and Welfare (Socialstyrelsen).

The WHO recommended on Monday that limits on the radioactive element radon in residential buildings should be cut from a current 1,000 to 100 becquerel per cubic metre (Bq/m3).

In Sweden the limit for when anti-radon measures should be enacted is already lower than existing WHO recommendations - 200 Bq/m3.

But the new WHO proposal means that the Swedish limit could need to be revised, according to Michael Ressner at the welfare board.

WHO slashes radon limit in homes, cites lung cancer

WHO slashes radon limit in homes, cites lung cancer

  • New WHO maximum is one-tenth previous level
  • Radon "major and growing public health threat in homes"
  • Radon exposure causes 3-14 percent of lung cancers

GENEVA (Reuters) - The World Health Organisation (WHO) has drastically cut the maximum amount of radon -- a naturally occurring gas -- that should be permitted in homes because of strong evidence it causes lung cancer.

In a WHO Handbook on Indoor Radon issued on Monday, it called for public health authorities and the construction industry to make great reductions in exposure to radon, calling it a "major and growing public health threat in homes."

Radon is a cancer-causing radioactive gas that humans cannot see, smell or taste. It arises from the natural decay of uranium and can seep into homes through cracks in basements or cellars.

Radon Specialists Descend on St. Louis

Radon Specialists Descend on St. Louis

The American Association of Radon Scientists and Technologists will hold its 21st International Radon Symposium Sept. 20-23 in St. Louis at the Union Station Marriott. Organizers say the event will provide an opportunity for the scientific and medical communities to exchange ideas and information about radon, which they note is a serious, global health threat and remains the second-leading cause of lung cancer in the United States.

In addition to a number of concurrent and plenary sessions, the event will include an all-day pre-symposium Missouri Granite Geology Field Trip on Sunday, Sept. 20, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., led by David Malone, Ph.D., chairman of the Department of Geology and Geography at Illinois State University, and Robert Nelson, Ph.D., associate professor of geology.

Guide On Lung Cancer In 'Never-smokers': A Different Disease And Different Treatments

ScienceDaily (Sep. 16, 2009) — A committee of scientists led by Johns Hopkins investigators has published a new guide to the biology, diagnosis and treatment of lung cancer in never-smokers, fortifying measures for what physicians have long known is a very different disease than in smokers.

"It is becoming increasingly clear that the genetic, cellular, and molecular nature of lung cancer in many never-smokers is different from that of smoking-related lung cancers, and there is good evidence now that the best treatment and prevention strategies for never-smokers may be different as well," says Charles M. Rudin, M.D., Ph.D., associate director for Clinical Research at the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center. Lung cancer in never-smokers is the sixth leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the U.S.