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Radon Reality: Why the Overlooked Gas Is a Health Hazard

Radon is invisible to the eye and has no odor. And even though it began worrying Americans starting in the 1980s, its mysterious ways seem misunderstood to this day. Yet according to UR Medicine’s Environmental Health Sciences Center, radon gas is second only to cigarette smoke as the leading cause of lung cancer. In the United States, radon is responsible for about 20,000 lung cancer deaths each year.

Two years ago, in a remote Kazakhstan village, residents began falling asleep for days at a time. Tests showed that villagers had an excessive accumulation of fluid in their brains, causing dizziness, inability to stand, fatigue and memory problems. Scientists first thought a virus or bacteria was to blame. Eventually, they concluded that radon from a nearby Soviet-era uranium mine had seeped up to the surface and was poisoning the villagers.

Dangerous Radon Can’t Be Seen or Tasted

How does Radon get into your home? Radon gets in through:

  • Cracks in solid floors.
  • Construction joints.
  • Cracks in walls.
  • Gaps in suspended floors.
  • Gaps around service pipes.
  • Cavities inside walls.
  • The water supply.

Radon is a radioactive gas. It comes from the natural decay of uranium that is found in nearly all soils. It typically moves up through the ground to the air above and into your home through cracks and other holes in the foundation.

Your home traps Radon inside, where it can build up. Any home may have a Radon problem. This means new and old homes, well sealed and drafty homes, and homes with or without basements.

Continue reading here.

Here’s How to Get Your Free Radon Test Kit From Weld County

Radon is the No. 1 cause of lung cancer among nonsmokers, and 46 percent of all homes in Colorado are estimated to have high levels, according to Weld County public health officials.

With funding from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, the Weld County Department of Public Health and Environment is offering free radon test kits to any Weld resident — limit one per household.

Read more here.

Drive to improve housing can bring unintended consequences

The UK is one of only a handful of countries that has put in place legally binding targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2050, relative to 1990 levels. How the country intends to go about meeting these targets is another matter entirely.

Until now, the government has seen improving the energy efficiency of millions of British homes as low hanging fruit that can provide easy emissions reductions. And housing is certainly a major contributor, generating 27% of the country’s total emissions.

Improving insulation, making homes airtight, and introducing smart energy meters are all part of the government’s plan. Huge sums of money are currently being invested on refurbishing properties, which while preferable to wholesale demolition, needs to be guided by well-rounded policies. The latest approach for funding these changes is through the Green Deal, a loan attached to a house paid back through its energy bills.

Keeping out drafts could mean more radon risk at home

Sealing up houses to improve energy efficiency also traps more radon inside and may lead to a higher risk of lung cancer, according to a new study based on modeling.

Guidelines suggest people install ventilation systems when they try to reduce heat loss from their homes.

Many energy efficiency measures, like putting draft strips along doorframes, reduce air exchange, study author Paul Wilkinson said.

"Moreover, even where trickle vents (small vents in windows or bricks) are fitted, a proportion will not be used or will be left closed," said Wilkinson, from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

Radon, a gas produced from naturally occurring uranium in soil and water, is known to increase the risk of lung cancer. It is present in many homes in varying amounts.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates radon contributes to about 21,000 lung cancer deaths each year, mostly among people who smoke.

Greenspace: Too many people still not testing for radon in homes

Radon wasn't always a household word - and for some, it still isn't, although it should be.

Better not to wind up like Stanley and Diane Watras.

In 1984, before anyone knew that the radioactive gas could make its way into homes, and that parts of Pennsylvania and New Jersey are radon hot spots, Watras set off radiation alarms when he reported for work at the Limerick nuclear power plant, then under construction.

Subsequent investigation focused on his home in Boyertown, Berks County, where technicians found the highest radon levels they had yet seen in the United States - about 675 times the maximum level permitted in a uranium mine.

In a way, he was lucky. He was alerted to a problem he hadn't known he had.

Officials began testing more homes, and household radon testing became a national campaign that continues to this day.

Radon is a colorless, odorless, radioactive gas that forms during the breakdown of naturally occurring uranium in soils and rocks.

DEQ Urges Homeowners to Test for Radon

January is Radon Awareness Month, and the Montana Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) is urging Montanans to protect their health by testing their homes for radon gas.

Radon is an invisible, odorless gas that occurs naturally from the decay of uranium and radium in many Montana soils and can accumulate inside homes. Studies indicate elevated levels of the gas are the second leading cause of lung cancer overall. Nationally, more than 22,000 people each year die from lung cancer linked to exposure to radon.

In Montana, historic radon testing shows that radon gas is present in varying levels in homes throughout the state. The amount of radon depends largely on the underlying geology of the area. Radon is measured in picocuries per liter (pCi/L). The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) identifies 4.0 pCi/L as the "action level" for radon.

A Risk You Can Fix: Protect Your Family’s Health by Testing Your Home for Radon Gas in 2014 / 21,000 Radon-Related Lung Cancer Deaths Each Year

As Americans across the country look for ways to improve their health this New Year, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is highlighting radon testing and mitigation as a simple and affordable step to significantly reduce the risk for lung cancer. Radon is a natural colorless, odorless radioactive gas, and is the leading cause of lung cancer among non-smokers, but testing for radon and reducing elevated levels when they are found can make your home healthier and safer.

“Testing for radon is an easy and affordable way to protect your family’s health,” said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. ”Radon is a radioactive gas that can be found in homes all across the country; the only way to know if your home has high levels is to test it.”

Part of EPA’s radon action campaign is to remind people to “Test, Fix, Save a Life,” and to recognize every January as radon action month.

Testing the Water is Important for Household Well Owners

The National Ground Water Association recommends household well owners test their water at least annually for bacteria, nitrate, and any contaminants of local concern.

More frequent testing should be considered if:

  • There is a change in the taste, odor, or appearance of the well water, or if a problem occurs such as a broken well cap, inundation by floodwaters, or a new contamination source
  • The well has a history of bacterial contamination
  • The septic system has recently malfunctioned
  • Family members or house guests have recurrent incidents of gastrointestinal illness
  • An infant is living in the home
  • One wishes to monitor the efficiency and performance of home water treatment equipment.

High Radon Levels in 17 Louth Homes

Seventeen homes in Louth have been found with radon gas levels above the acceptable level in the past year and a half, according to figures released today by the Radiological Protection Institute of Ireland (RPII).

One home in Dundalk had more than four times the acceptable level. This is the highest level of radon found in a home in Louth to date and the occupants were receiving a radiation dose equivalent to more than 1000 chest X-rays per year.

In Louth, 294 tests for radon gas were completed in the past year and a half and of these, 17 were found to be above the acceptable level.

Commenting on the findings, David Fenton, Senior Scientist at the RPII said: “We know that Louth has a particular problem with radon and yet only a fraction of homeowners have tested. Our research shows that, of the homes already tested, there is a large percentage with high radon levels.”