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Bethel Park students collaborate on radon-testing project

Testing for radon comes with the possibility of producing numbers you don’t exactly want to see.

“Luckily, none of our houses in Bethel were above the actionable levels that the EPA sets,” Neil Armstrong Middle School teacher Joe Rosi said, “which is awesome.”

As part of a project involving collaboration with Bethel Park High School students, Rosi’s fifth-graders conducted tests at their homes, determining if any exceed the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s threshold at which corrective action should be taken. For the record, and for aspiring scientists, that’s four picocuries per liter.

“We have kids who already have abatement systems that exist in their houses,” Rosi said. “They didn’t know what they had them for, and now they know.”

Do I Have a Radon Problem at my House?

As Homes Cozy Up For Winter, Radon Levels Can Build

With winter on the way, many people are making sure best practices are in place for a weather-tight season. The Soil Science Society of America (SSSA) November 1st Soils Matter blog post explains why “home sweet home” is worth an inexpensive radon test for peace of mind through the winter months.

Nick Comerford, a professor in the soil and water science department at University of Florida, explains how radon forms. Its parent material, uranium, is found in most soil. As uranium decays, it eventually becomes radon gas. Depending on the level, radon gas can lead to health issues, including lung cancer. The risk increases if cigarette smoke and other particles are also present.

“Radon can move as a gas through the soil and enter your house through holes in the foundation.” Comerford says. “These holes might be found in places like the shower, toilet, other drains, etc. Any dust particles you have floating around your house collect radon – which you can then inhale.”

Having children at home did not prompt parents to test for radon, secondhand smoke

A University of Louisville School of Nursing researcher has found that the presence of children in the home did not motivate parents to test and mitigate for radon and secondhand tobacco smoke, both of which cause lung cancer. The findings highlight a need to raise awareness on these exposure risks and their long-term impact on children.

Read more here.

Does Your Home or Building Need Radon Testing?

"Radon" sounds like a secret supervillain, and you could say that's essentially what it is. An invisible, odorless gas, radon concentrates in homes and buildings, exposing those who breathe it in to the second-top cause of lung cancer in the U.S. The good news is radon testing is simple; high-radon homes can be mitigated or fixed – and free or reduced-cost testing is offered in many areas.

Learn more about radon, mitigation, and testing for peace of mind.

Rockville elementary school shows elevated levels of radon in retesting

Elevated levels of radon were found at a Rockville elementary school where parents and teachers have raised concerns in recent weeks about potential health hazards related to the odorless, colorless radioactive gas.

Montgomery County school officials have posted results from recent retesting at Fallsmead Elementary School that showed average radon levels in 14 rooms at or above the Environmental Protection Agency’s limit of 4 picocuries per liter of air (pCi/L).

School district officials said mitigation measures to reduce radon levels are being planned and that they don’t believe there is an immediate safety hazard. The highest recent reading at Fallsmead was 5.4 pCi/L, according to the report.

A letter reporting the findings was emailed to parents and staff on Dec. 11. “I am continuing to work with the appropriate offices in MCPS so that this situation is resolved promptly,” wrote Roni S. Silverstein, the school’s principal.

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.

Bedford health director calls radon testing important

Largely due to the geological makeup of the region, a quarter of Massachusetts homes may be at risk from unsafe levels of the radioactive gas radon. While high levels of radon can be serious – it’s the second-leading cause of lung cancer – mitigation is relatively straightforward.

“The problem with radon is you can’t see, smell or taste it, so it’s a hard risk for people to define,” said Peter Hendrick, executive director of the American Association of Radon Scientists and Technologists.

In Bedford, Director of Public Health Heidi Porter stressed the importance of radon testing. She said with reasonably priced kits readily available at home improvement and hardware stores, testing a home, whether old or new, is as important as having a carbon monoxide director or smoke detector.

“The data shows that radon can contribute to cancer,” said Porter, adding that like carbon monoxide, radon is invisible and odorless and most of the time concentrated in the basements of homes.

About the House: How Radon Finds its Way into Our Homes

Rob Kinsey has been a licensed builder for 25 years and is a home inspector with more than 15 years of experience.

Sturgis, Mich. — Last week’s column addressed the issue of radon testing. It pointed out that radon is considered to be the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States. What it didn’t give was much information about radon itself.

Radon is a silent killer. It relies on stealth, and apathy. By its nature, it is silent. And, as I noted last week, it is immune to detection by our five senses. It’s invisible, patient and relies on us doing nothing. Essentially it uses the adage, out of sight, out of mind.

Radon is a naturally occurring gas. It comes from the breakdown of uranium deep within the ground. Please do not ask me how a rock can break down into other things and along the line become a deadly gas. That science is advanced well beyond my education. But then again so is chemistry and flying through space — yet I believe in them.

Winter is the Time to Test for Radon

NEVADA - Elevated levels of radon have been found in 37 percent of the Carson City homes that have been tested, said Susan Howe, program director for the Nevada Radon Education Program through the University of Nevada Cooperative Extension.

Howe was in Carson City this past week to request that the board of supervisors declare January National Radon Action Month.

Howe said that the radon percentage is even higher — 56 percent — in the 89703 zip code, and nearly 43 percent in the 89702 area. In the 89706 neighborhoods, which include a portion of Lyon County, the percentage was nearly 22 percent, and in 89701, it was more than 26 percent. In 89705, which is mostly Douglas County, it was nearly 20 percent.

Radon levels are measured in picoCuries per liter, or pCi/L. Most households testing positive in Carson City were in the 0-20 range, some were up to 50, but one home in the 89701 zip code area measured levels of over 100.