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radon exposure

Healthy Homes Plan to Prevent Lead, Radon and Mold Exposure Is Urged by Pittsburgh Nonprofit

As Allegheny County residents await recommendations on what to do to prevent lead exposure in children by a county task force, a Pittsburgh-based nonprofit that helps families create healthier homes this week issued its own report, the 123-page “The Case for Healthier Homes.”

Publicized through an email blast Tuesday to people involved in public health issues and to be followed by additional outreach in the community, the report outlines the hazards of lead, radon and mold that threaten the health of people in their own homes. It shares as well examples of success from places throughout the country.

CCI (formerly Conservation Consultants Inc.) produced the report with input from leading experts in the region and public officials here and elsewhere that have tackled the health issue.

EPA Grant Helps Protect Vermont Residents From Radon Exposure

BOSTON - The state of Vermont has received $105,000 that will support efforts to reduce exposure and health risks of radon found in buildings and schools.

The Vermont Department of Health received funds to provide long term test kits for homeowners, and to promote radon-resistant construction techniques in new buildings and renovations. The project will also offer technical assistance for assessing and reducing radon in schools.

The State of Vermont matches the federal award with 40 percent state funding to support actions in the state's approved work plan.

Continue reading here.

Builder's Focus: Radon: A Silent Killer

Builder's Focus: Radon: A Silent Killer

More than 35 percent of homes tested in Porter County and more than 15 percent of homes in tested in Lake County had elevated levels of radon gas (4.0 pCi/l or more), according to a local home inspection company.

Phil Borkstrom and family have owned and operated Schererville-based Home Inspector Consultants for the last two decades, specializing in residential and commercial radon testing.

“The amount of residential radon testing we perform each year increases as people become more and more aware of its presence in homes,” Borkstrom said. “It's still not where it should be because we feel if everyone was aware of radon then every house, school and commercial building would be tested.”

The US EPA and Surgeon General share the same opinion on radon testing, and it's easy to understand why.

Bisbee, Freeport Work to Keep Mine Tour Safe, Open

The Queen Mine Tour has been one of Bisbee’s and the state’s highest visited sites by tourists, and now due to safety concerns presented last Friday by Freeport McMoRan Copper and Gold, Inc., it may need to be closed for a while, though the city is working to prevent that.

FMI director of discontinued operations Joseph Brunner told city staff at the meeting that due to elevated levels of radon detected in the mine over the past year, it may be best to close the mine while the company figures out a way to keep the exposure to radon within safe limits.

Radon, a naturally occurring radioactive gas that cannot be seen, tasted or smelled, can be found in any underground mine that has subsurface granite rock, according to Brunner. Radon decays into particles that stick to surfaces, such as airborne dust particles which when breathed in, in high amounts, can stick to lung tissue increasing the risk of lung cancer.

Bisbee's Copper Queen Mine Tours in Danger of Shutting Down

The Copper Queen Mine tour is at risk of getting shut down because of elevated levels of radon have been detected, city officials said.

The historic mine is a well-known icon in the mining community in Southern Arizona.

Diannea Constock brought her two nieces from Louisville, Kentucky, because her father brought her to the mine back in the 1970s and it made a lasting impression.

"This is something totally different. They have never been to the desert before -- where else are you going to go that you have copper, silver... and the desert?" Constock said.

Mayor Adriana Badal said Freeport McMoran, the company which owns the retired mine, detected what they call potentially "unsafe" levels of radon.

"It's not a health concern, according to OSHA and according to Freeport, for our tourists. It could pose a potential problem for our employees, so we are very willing and anxious to mitigate and turn that around so we can re-open the mine," Badal told News 4 Tucson.

New Minnesota Health Department Codes Insufficient

According to the preliminary results of a study launched last fall by the Minnesota Health Department, 20 percent of new homes being built have radon levels above 4.0 picocuries per liter. This is well above the point that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency regards as safe. Before a new state building code went into effect in 2009, approximately 40 percent of homes tested come back at unsafe levels. The 2009 code change was supposed to reduce the risk of radon exposure in Minnesota.

Health officials are still concerned that the code leaves some homeowners exposed to deadly levels of the cancer-causing gas. The passive radon mitigation systems installed under the code do not do the job sufficiently. “That is still a quarter of our population being highly exposed to something that gives lung cancer,’’ says manager of the Minnesota Health Department’s radon program, Joshua Miller. They are not always effective at reducing radon levels below the federal health safety standard.

Lexington Business Helps Mitigate Deadly Cancer Risk

Lexington, KY – Sometimes life deals us a severe emotional setback such as the unexpected and shocking death of a loved one. Lois Turner Dees of Lexington knows the feeling too well. Her husband, Larry Turner, an associate dean and director of the cooperative extension service at the University of Kentucky, was aboard Comair Flight 5191 when it crashed at Blue Grass Airport in August 2006, killing 49 people.

Five years after that terrible accident, fate dealt Dees another blow. That fall, shebegan coughing uncontrollably. Her doctor ordered a round of antibiotics, then a chest x-ray, followed by CAT and PET scans. That’s when Dees was diagnosed with lung cancer.

“At one of those appointments, my doctor asked me, since I was a non-smoker, if I’d ever had our house tested for radon. I had not,” Dees explained. “When it was tested, on an acceptable scale of zero to four, our home tested at 32. It had eight times the acceptable level of radon in it.”

Survey To Gauge Uranium Worries

Survey To Gauge Uranium Worries

ATLANTA — The state Department of Health is encouraging Monroe County residents to fill out a health survey related to the higher-than-normal levels of uranium and radon that have been measured in the area.

But the results may not be what neighbors concerned about environmental toxins documented near the Plant Scherer coal-fired power plant in Juliette are hoping for.

The state believes the uranium and radon around Juliette is natural and not coming from the plant, though some vocal residents are skeptical about that. Regardless of the source, levels beyond what the EPA considers safe have been observed in the wells of 39 homes nearby.

Some people have complained of health problems consistent with uranium exposure, and the survey does ask about those, but it also asks, for example: "Are you worried about uranium in your well water?"

Radon: Could a Silent Killer be Lurking?

Radon: Could a Silent Killer be Lurking?

Kaye Ranger-Lefler was in perfect health until last fall, when episodes of lower back pain began regularly striking her a few hours after mealtime.

The pain became so intense the 65-year-old Sioux City woman could hardly eat. She lost weight and struggled to fall asleep while sitting up. It hurt too much to lie down in her bed.

When Ranger-Lefler was finally diagnosed with Stage Four lung cancer, over four months after her pain began, she was in shock.

How could a woman who had never smoked develop lung cancer?

A radioactive gas known as radon could be the answer.

Radon exposure is the second leading cause of lung cancer behind smoking and the leading cause of lung cancer in non-smokers.

The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that radon exposure causes 21,000 lung cancer deaths every year in the United States. About 2,900 of these deaths occur among people who have never smoked.

Homestead to build new City Hall

It took the discovery of cancer-causing radon gas, pervasive mold and asbestos in Homestead City Hall, but City Council members on Monday agreed to abandon the sick building and put up a new City Hall.

In the meantime, city employees in the building will move to temporary offices, council members decided.

“That is the right thing to do. We can’t have employees in here, breathing in radon, breathing in mold,” City Manager George Gretsas told council members.

Council members decided it wasn’t worth pouring money into the old building to fix it. Experts contacted by city staff estimated it would take $2 million and one year to fix all the health and environmental problems found.

Homestead officials have suspected for years that City Hall was “sick.” The city this year ordered an environmental review that confirmed their suspicions.