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Radon in the News

Agreement could place tougher limits on radon

An agreement reached between the Environmental Protection Agency and plaintiffs in a lawsuit could result in stronger limits on radon emissions from uranium mills, including a proposed operation near Naturita, between Durango and Grand Junction.

Colorado Citizens Against ToxicWaste, representing concerned residents living near the Cotter mill in Cañon City, and WildEarth Guardians filed the suit in 2008, according to a news release from the Cañon City group.

The lawsuit and settlement were reached with the help of the Energy Minerals Law Center, a Durango-based nonprofit.

Travis Stills, an attorney with the law center, said in a phone interview Sunday that the settlement compels the EPA to revisit its limits on the radioactive gas, which haven't been reviewed or changed in 20 years.

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Some Buildings Not Living Up to Green Label

August 31, 2009
Some Buildings Not Living Up to Green Label

The Federal Building in downtown Youngstown, Ohio, features an extensive use of natural light to illuminate offices and a white roof to reflect heat.

It has LEED certification, the country’s most recognized seal of approval for green buildings.

But the building is hardly a model of energy efficiency. According to an environmental assessment last year, it did not score high enough to qualify for the Energy Star label granted by the Environmental Protection Agency, which ranks buildings after looking at a year’s worth of utility bills.

The building’s cooling system, a major gas guzzler, was one culprit. Another was its design: to get its LEED label, it racked up points for things like native landscaping rather than structural energy-saving features, according to a study by the General Services Administration, which owns the building.

United Nations Group Says Evidence Linking Radon to Lung Cancer Exists

There is mounting direct evidence to confirm a small but detectable risk of lung cancer from living with radon in the home, says the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR). [http://www.unscear.org/]

Previous estimates of risk for radon were calculated from health studies of underground miners, who were exposed to high levels of radon and its decay products. Now the Committee has evaluated recent direct studies of the public, in Europe, North America and China, exposed to relatively low levels of radon in their homes.

Although there are major uncertainties in calculating from the studies of miners to exposure at home, there is remarkably good agreement between the estimates derived from studies of miners at high levels and the direct evidence at low levels, according to UNSCEAR.

Radon rules likely to be included in National Building Code (Canada)

Tough new Health Canada recommendations on radon exposure may soon affect forming and foundation contractors, if proposed changes to the 2010 National Building Code (NBC) take effect.

Radon is a colourless, odourless gas formed in soil, rock and groundwater as radium decays.

“Recent scientific evidence has conclusively linked long-term exposure to high levels of radon to a higher incidence of lung cancer,” said Gary Holub, a Health Canada media relations officer.

“Health Canada worked closely with the Federal-Provincial-Territorial Radiation Protection Committee in making the decision to lower the guideline from 800 Bq per cubic metre to 200 Bq per cubic metre for all buildings, including homes. This new threshold places Canada among the international leaders for radon guidelines, so that Canada has one of the lowest acceptable levels for radon in buildings.”

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Lung cancer genetics unravelled

The genetics underpinning a smoker's risk of developing lung cancer have been further unpicked by UK scientists.

Three areas of DNA were found to be linked with lung cancer risk in smokers - two of them influencing the type of cancer which develops.

It supports previous studies which have suggested a family link, even after taking smoking into account, a report in the Cancer Research journal says.

Smoking is responsible for nine out of 10 cases of lung cancer.

The Institute of Cancer Research team compared the DNA of 1,900 lung cancer patients and 1,400 healthy individuals.

Information gathered on areas of genetic risk was then tested further in another 2,000 patients with lung cancer and a similar number of healthy volunteers.

Specific differences associated with lung cancer risk were found on chromosomes 5, 6 and 15.

Radioactive granite: Hot topic at radon symposium

This article is being reposted. Original Article.

Radon and radiation from granite countertops are on the agenda for a September scientific Symposium.

The American Association of Radon Scientists and Technologists (AARST) meet every September to discuss issues related to radioactive radon gas in homes. This year, AARST will have five peer-reviewed presentations on radioactive granite, plus a panel discussion on the topic.

A silent killer, thwarted

It’s not always true that what you don’t know can’t hurt you. Radon is a tasteless, odorless, invisible gas that comes from the natural radioactive breakdown of uranium in soil, rock, and water. When breathed regularly over time, it can erode pulmonary health. In fact, radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in America, responsible for approximately 21,000 deaths per year (that’s more than drunk driving.)

Even though the EPA recommends home testing once every two years, few homeowners are aware of the risk and fewer still bother to take steps to safeguard against radon exposure.

That’s especially unfortunate in Telluride and the surrounding areas, as southwestern Colorado is rated at the highest threat level on the EPA’s books.

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Radon testing in your home could save your life

A rare case of harmful levels of radon gas in a Thurston County home has been documented by an East Olympia homeowner and state health officials.

It raises a question about whether the naturally occurring, radioactive gas is present in other homes in the county.

The only way to answer the question is for homeowners to test their homes. Radon test kits are available at most home improvement stores for $25 or less.

“Testing is a worthwhile thing to do,” said Mike Brennan, a radiation health physicist at the state Department of Health.

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Blood test may diagnose lung cancer, company says

WASHINGTON, Aug 4 (Reuters) - A blood test that detects nine compounds in blood may offer a safe way to diagnose early cases of lung cancer, Celera Corporation (CRA.O) reported on Tuesday.

Such a test would allow quick treatment of lung cancer, which is usually not detected before it has spread, Celera, which became independent of Applera Corp. earlier this year, said in a statement.

"This is one of the most promising assays I've seen as a predictor of non-small cell lung cancer," Dr. Harvey Pass of the New York University Langone Medical Center, who helped test the diagnostic, said in a statement.

The researchers tested people who had been diagnosed with stage 1 lung cancer, which can often be cured, and found it detected the cancer with more than 90 percent accuracy.

REGISTER for Upcoming Webinar: Provide Feedback on EPA's Long-term Strategy on Radon

REGISTER for Upcoming Webinar: Provide Feedback on EPA's Long-term Strategy on Radon

Please join us for a discussion on EPA’s Long-Term Strategy for radon. The National Radon Program is developing a long-term vision and strategy and we want to hear from you.

Register for a Webinar discussion on Tuesday, August 11, 2009, from 1-3 PM, EST.

The Webinar will include break-out discussions of strategies EPA might pursue under three possible program scenarios: (1) existing resources and authority; (2) increased resources and existing authority; and (3) increased resources and increased authority.

To participate, you must register in advance for one of the three Webinar break-out discussions. Please select one of the following discussion options:

  • Participate in a Webinar discussion focused on EPA’s Long-Term Strategy options assuming Existing Resources, and Existing Authority by registering at: http://tiny.cc/OBLK0