USGS Finds Elevated Levels of Arsenic, Radon, Methane in Some Private Wells in Lycoming County, Pennsylvania
Tests of 75 private drinking water wells in Lycoming County, in north-central Pennsylvania, found water from most of the sampled wells contained concentrations of radon that exceeded a proposed, nonbinding health standard for drinking water. Smaller percentages of the wells contained concentrations of arsenic or methane that exceed existing drinking water standards.
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On January 26th, the media station WBRE in Wilkes-Barre PA agreed to host radon professionals from the Department of Environmental Protection for a call-in program. Participants were on air for two hours doing occasional on-camera interviews and answering viewers' calls. The program reached approximately 19 counties and 1.5 million viewers! (*From left to right in the photograph are Paul Houle, Kevin Stewart, Matt Shields, and Andrew Taverna)
We participated in the Pennsylvania Farm Show with the Department of Environmental Protection's Educational Green Home Display--a display that has since been entered in national competition (the Modular Exhibit Design or "MOD" Awards) for Best Graphics!
At the direction of Governor Corbett, the Department of Environmental Protection announced today it will undertake a study to look at naturally occurring levels of radioactivity in by-products associated with oil and natural gas development.
In the coming weeks, DEP will seek a peer review of its study plan and begin to sample and analyze the naturally occurring radioactivity levels in flowback waters, treatment solids and drill cuttings, as well as associated matters such as the transportation, storage and disposal of drilling wastes.
DEP routinely reviews radioactivity data in wastes the oil and natural gas industry and other industries generate, and the information the agency has obtained to date indicates very low levels of natural radioactivity. This study, which is expected to take 12 to 14 months, is aimed at ensuring that public health and the environment continue to be protected.
ALA-PA Partners with Department of Environmental Protection to provide the program.
The American Lung Association in Pennsylvania announced this week that it is providing free radon test kits to the public on its website.
The ALA-PA said one test kit per Pennsylvania household may be requested, and that those asking for kits should be residents who don't have a previous test result for their homes. The offer is valid while supplies last, according to a release.
Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas. It is colorless, odorless and tasteless, and it is the second-leading cause of lung cancer, after cigarette smoking.
DEP says radon systems weren't installed properly.
The state has taken the unusual step of decertifying a radon specialist who, officials say, improperly installed systems and violated other regulations in Lehigh, Bucks and Montgomery counties.
Homeowners who hired Environmental Concepts Technology should have their radon removal systems inspected, state officials said, because the systems may not be working properly and may be exposing them to dangerous radon gas.
The Department of Environmental Protection announced late last month it had fined the company's owner, Christopher Ford of Abington Township, Montgomery County, $58,875 and decertified him from testing for radon because of problems with his work, including six systems installed in Orefield.
NORRISTOWN -- The Department of Environmental Protection today ordered Christopher Ford, of Abington Township, Montgomery County, to surrender his state radon testing certification and pay $58,875 in civil penalties for numerous violations of the Radon Certification Act and Radiation Protection Act.
“Mr. Ford misrepresented the type of state certification held by his firm, and allowed an uncertified employee to perform radon system work,” DEP Southeast Regional Director Joseph A. Feola said. “Our inspectors documented 82 violations of radon system installation standards, along with eight violations of testing and quality assurance regulations.”
DEP noted the violations during June 2010 inspections of 15 radon systems installed by Ford’s firm, Environmental Concepts Technology, and cited him for not discharging radon above roof lines; not sealing floor and wall joints; failing to conduct post-mitigation testing; and not attaching system documentation to radon system units.
To spread the message about radon, WGAL TV – a local Lancaster and Harrisburg, Pennsylvania news channel – and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PA DEP), Bureau of Radiation Protection, Radon Division organized a phone bank of radon experts to answer viewer call-in questions during a live on-air broadcast.
The day prior to the phone bank, Susan Shapiro, a reporter for WGAL, did a broadcast news story related to radon. She interviewed a Lancaster family with high radon levels who subsequently mitigated the home, and she also interviewed a representative of the PA DEP Radon Division who provided general information of radon in general and some specifics of local occurrences. The purpose of these broadcasts was to showcase real life stories to impact the viewing audience enough for them to take action.
NAME: Robert K. Lewis
TITLE: Program manager, radon division
COMPANY: Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection
YEARS IN FIELD: 25
Q: What is radon gas, and how does it get into homes?
A: Radon is a naturally occurring, radioactive gas, arising from the breakdown of uranium that is found distributed in the soil and rocks of the earth’s crust.
Pennsylvania is particularly prone to radon problems compared with much of the rest of the country. This is due to our geology and soil characteristics.
When it comes to carcinogens that industrial plants dump into the water, the government generally takes a hard line on levels of public exposure.
But public health officials accept far greater risk with the naturally occurring radioactive substance radon, which enters homes from the ground and underground aquifers through basements and water pipes.
The radioactive gas, the dangers of which have been known for decades, is so prevalent in nature that getting to the standard risk level would be nearly impossible.
New Jersey and Pennsylvania are among a number of states plentiful in radon. For more than a decade, state and federal governments have held off in regulating how much of the gas should be allowed in drinking water. The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection is analyzing data as it considers its next step.