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Radon in the News

Radon Day: Danger may lurk in your basement

Radon gas, which results from the decay of uranium, seeps into basements and can be a significant cause of lung cancer to residents of impacted homes.

The Grundy County Land Use Department and the Grundy County Health Department sponsored Grundy Radon Action Day at the county administration center Tuesday afternoon in an effort to raise awareness of the danger.

Illinois is a state with a high incidence of radon and area residents are urged to have their basement “or the lowest level of their residence“ tested.

Travis Jewell of Radovent Illinois explained that, as uranium“ which exists naturally in the soil “ decays, it gives off several by-products, including radon gas. This radioactive gas works its way through the soil. Because houses tend to have a negative air pressure, the radon is pulled into the basement or lowest level of the structure.

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Radon high in 40 percent of area homes

During a recent test, more than 40 percent of homes tested for radon needed to find a way to mitigate the level of the gas.

Some researchers believe that many cases of lung cancer — those not related to smoking — are caused by radon gas coming up from the natural breakdown of uranium and radium in the earth and rising into homes, although there is not yet definitive proof, said Luann Boyer, Morgan County extension agent.

Family and consumer science extension agents presented radon awareness programs in 2008 and 150 of the people who were involved in the programs returned short-term tests for radon, she said.

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Is that granite counter in your home emitting radon?

Fears about granite surfaces are largely unfounded, experts say, but a test can quell homeowners' worries.

Homeowners seeking just the right granite for their countertops have something new to ponder, besides which color complements their cabinets. Some are wondering about the radiation and radon gas that might be emanating from those showy slabs.

The topic sent online forums buzzing last summer after a few high-profile media reports, including a New York Times story featuring a doctor who removed her granite after it tested high for radiation, then replaced it with a different granite.

Now scientists, including a Minnesota physicist, are testing slabs, producing papers and debating each other's findings. The Marble Institute of America recently announced it will launch a "Home Approved Stone" program to reassure consumers about granite's safety. And radon professionals say some homeowners now want their countertops tested along with the rest of the house.

Health experts warn radon threat high in Colorado

A deadly radioactive gas is lurking inside homes in every neighborhood across our state. Roughly a third of all homes in Colorado are at high risk for radon. Luckily, there are ways to reduce the threat.

The Pueblo City-County Health Department is giving away free radon test kits, while supplies last. The Environmental Protection Agency recommends you test your home for radon every two years to make sure your family stays safe.

Radon is known as the invisible killer. "Radon is an odorless, colorless, tasteless gas," said Jenny Kedward, an environmental coordinator with the Pueblo City-County Health Department.

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Protect yourself from radon

Fergus Falls, MN — If there was something you could do to prevent the second leading cause of lung cancer, would you do it? Performing a radon test is easy, inexpensive, and can be done privately. This simple test can tell you if you have elevated radon levels in your home.

Radon is estimated to cause many thousands of deaths each year. When you breathe air containing radon, you can get lung cancer. In fact, the Surgeon General has warned that radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States today.

He urges Americans to test their homes to find out how much radon they might be breathing.

Why is radon a common problem in Minnesota homes? Much of the soil in the Upper Midwest contains widespread uranium and radium. These minerals continuously break down to release radon gas. Therefore, Minnesota's geology provides an ongoing supply of radon.

Saving Lives in 2009

Growing RadonLeaders.org

RadonLeaders.org now boasts almost 400 members in the mere four months since its launch at the national radon meetings in Las Vegas, September 2008. Help build the RadonLeaders.org community by asking three colleagues to join today! Direct them to www.radonleaders.org/user/register.

A Record Breaking National Radon Action Month 2009

Statistics make case for radon testing need

If Mark Versch were a betting man, he might place some money on the chance that any home in Chadron has a level of radon gas judged unsafe by the Environmental Protection Agency.

Radon is a colorless, odorless, tasteless, radioactive gas, known to scientists as the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States. Created by the natural decay of uranium, its danger as an occupational hazard for miners has been known since the early 1900s, but the realization of its presence in homes only dates to the mid-1980s.

Analysis of the geology of northwest Nebraska, where uranium bearing underground rock layers are common, is one indicator that northwest Nebraska homes are likely to show measurable amounts of radon, according to Versch, an environmental health analyst with the state’s Department of Health and Human Services who visited the area last week to present a program on radon at Chadron State College.

Area man battles lung cancer, high radon levels discovered

“It all started back in July. I had a cough and could not get rid of it,” recalls Mark Johnson, a farmer near Spring Grove, discussing the events leading to his diagnosis with lung cancer in December. “The over-the-counter stuff didn’t work. After awhile my family said I should go and get it checked out.”

The cough continued throughout the fall and on Nov. 26, the day before Thanksgiving and after most of his field work was done, Johnson went to the doctor.

“They wanted to do a chest x-ray to look for pneumonia,” he explained. When doctors saw questionable images on the x-ray they did a CT scan for further observation. On Dec. 18 the phone call came with the results; the growth in his lungs causing his chronic coughing was lung cancer. Already diagnosed as stage three cancer, chemotherapy would be the only option.

Excess radon in 42 percent of Illinois homes tested

A state study shows that 42 percent of homes tested in Illinois had excess levels of radon, a leading cause of lung cancer for nonsmokers, according to Illinois Emergency Management Agency Director Andrew Velasquez III.

It is estimated that 21,000 radon-related lung cancer deaths occur annually, 1,100 of which are in Illinois.

Radon is odorless, colorless and tasteless, making the radioactive gas difficult to detect.
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It originates from the radioactive decay of uranium that naturally occurs in soil. It enters homes through cracks and gaps in the foundation or interior construction. Radon can also contaminate the water supply.

The state normally offers free testing kits to residents; however, the 10,000 kits available have been distributed and funding for the program has been depleted.

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NSC's Radon Awards Ceremony Honors Those Who Help Save Lives

WASHINGTON, Jan. 28 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The National Safety Council's Radon Awards Ceremony, held tonight at the National Press Club, will recognize individuals and organizations for their contributions to reducing deaths from radon. Radon, a colorless, odorless and tasteless natural gas, is our nation's second leading cause of lung cancer, after smoking. Radon is linked to about 21,000 cancer deaths each year. It is estimated that residents of one in every 15 homes are exposed to unsafe levels of radon.

At tonight's ceremony, National Safety Council president and CEO Janet Froetscher will deliver opening remarks and award the winners of the NSC's 2009 National Radon Poster Contest, recognizing young people for their artistic efforts to educate the public about the importance of testing for radon. 2009 poster contest winners include:

1st place: Shana Stone, age 10, grade 6, Good Hope, Ga.
2nd place: Raquel Goldman, age 13, grade 8, Hollywood, Fla.