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Radon Action Month in Illinois: What Are the Levels in Your Home?

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. - Radon is the most significant health risk homeowners face, and this month state leaders are encouraging residents to test their homes for the dangerous gas.

According to the Illinois Emergency Management Agency, nearly 1,200 citizens die annually from radon-related lung cancer. Patrick Daniels, radon program manager at the Illinois Emergency Management Agency, says now is the best time of the year to check the radon levels inside a home.

"We want to test homes under what we call 'closed house conditions,'" says Daniels. "Being as cold as it is we tend to keep our windows and doors shut and homes closed up and pretty tight so it just makes it a good time to test."

Test kits range in price from $10 to $30, and can be purchased at a local hardware store or online. Daniels says it's recommended that homeowners who are involved in a real estate transaction hire a licensed professional to test the home for radon.

Suburban School's Radon Report Sparks Concern

Parents are expressing concerns after a suburban school released radon test results that showed some classroom levels far exceeding the Environmental Protection Agency guidelines.
With some classrooms more than eight times the recommended levels from the EPA, officials at Pleasantdale Elementary in LaGrange say they’re looking into how they can reduce radon levels in the school.

The levels were elevated in 15 classrooms, according to the release. One classroom recorded levels at 34.8 pCi/L- nearly eight times the EPA guidelines. An office was at 25.3 and another classroom was at 12.4.

Read the article online:
http://www.nbcchicago.com/news/local/Suburban-Schools-Radon-Report-Sparks-Concern-279380642.html

Free Radon Testing in a Michigan Town

For Radon Awareness Week Health Department #4 in Alpena wants citizens to be aware of the dangers of radon.

The department will be providing free radon test kits starting October 20th until the 24th.

Radon is a colorless and odorless radioactive gas that is very dangerous. It's also one of the leading causes of lung cancer in the United States.

The gas is able to seep into homes through gaps and cracks in the foundation and insulation.

"And it's everywhere, it's all over the United States, it's here in Alpena," said Health Department Representative Cathy Goike. "It doesn't matter if it's a new home, or an old home. You can find radon gas anywhere because it comes from the soil and it seeps into your home"

The test kits the health department is providing are easy to use and provide results in two weeks that state if your home tested positive or negative for radon.

Those interested can pick up their free test between October 20th and the 24th.

Crow Wing County Offers Free Radon Testing Kits

Crow Wing County and the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) recommend that all homes in Minnesota be tested for radon. It's the only way to know if your home has an elevated level of radon, which can cause lung cancer. Radon is an odorless, colorless and tasteless radioactive gas that occurs naturally in Minnesota soils and can enter homes through cracks and openings in basement or foundation floors and walls.

To obtain a test kit, visit the Land Services Office at 322 Laurel St., Brainerd. Supplies are limited so residents are encouraged to stop and acquire a kit soon, the county reported.

Read the article online: http://www.brainerddispatch.com/content/crow-wing-county-offers-free-radon-testing-kits

Radon Testing: Should Home Buyers Rely on the Seller's Test?

Reuben Saltzman shares advice on relying on the seller's radon test results.

If a home buyer is going to rely on someone else's radon test results instead of hiring their own company to conduct a radon test, they should make sure that the previous test was done within the last two years, the testing was done by a qualified person / company, no major changes happened at the home that could affect radon levels, and that the radon test was placed in the proper location.

Read the article online: http://www.startribune.com/local/yourvoices/274330561.html

Maine Health Officials Urge Property Owners to Test Wells for Toxins and Radon in Water

State Toxicologist, Dr. Andrew Smith, says more than fifty percent of the homes in Maine rely on wells for their water supply, but many people do not know how safe the water they are drinking is.

Recent reports about elevated levels of naturally occurring fluoride in wells in Maine are only part of the story. Smith says high levels of arsenic, manganese, radon and even uranium have been detected in well water across the state.

He advises property owners test their well water every three to five years. He says a standard water test costs about $100. Smith says more than twenty percent of wells test positive for radon, a known carcinogen, so it is important to make sure radon is included in the screening.

"Radon is a challenge, because radon is not part of the standard water test and you have to make a specific request for that test kit," he explained.

Radon, uranium testing spikes with surge in home sales

For Portland native Kate McCabe, moving from a home hooked into the public water system to one with a private well was as much about having safe drinking water as it was about expanding the space for her growing family. So when the inspector for the house she and her husband planned to buy in North Yarmouth recommended thorough testing of the air and water, McCabe, who has a 2-year-old and another baby on the way, readily agreed. And she's glad she did. The test results showed extremely high air and water radon and water uranium readings, and she almost backed out of the deal.

"I tried to talk to as many people as I could as fast as I could," says McCabe, 35. "I called at least 10 different companies." She decided to negotiate with the sellers to pay for air and water mitigation systems, and after they agreed to pay the nearly $18,000 expense, she agreed to the sale and plans to move in toward the end of September, after the systems are installed.

Element of the week: Radon

This week's element is radon, which has the chemical symbol Rn and the atomic number 86. Radon is the largest and heaviest of the noble gases that are known to exist, and thus, it's the last one we will meet. Radon's name is derived from radium, a radioactive element that emits radon as it decays. For this reason, radon was originally known as "radium emanation", although it was also known as thoron ("thorium emanation") and actinon ("actinium emanation") since it was also emitted by these elements. In 1912, the name, niton (derived from Latin for "shining" in recognition of its radioluminosity), with the chemical symbol, Nt, was approved as the name for radon. This name was formally changed to radon in 1923 after it was realised that thoron and actinon were also radioisotopes of the same nobel gas.

Iowa Senate Says Schools Should Test for Radon

Schools would be required to test for radon, a colorless, odorless gas that can leak through cracks in building foundations, under legislation that passed the Iowa Senate on Wednesday.

The measure won bipartisan support, passing through Senate 37-13. It now moves to the House.

The bill would require public and private schools to test for the gas and install a system to expel it from buildings. It also would require residential construction companies to install pipes to extract the gas from homes built after Jan. 1, 2015.

Bill sponsor Sen. Matt McCoy, D-Des Moines, said it would be negligent for lawmakers to do nothing to protect Iowa residents from radon.

Radon Bill Passes Senate, Will Be Put Into Action

A bill inspired by a KSL investigation made it through the Senate Thursday evening, the last night of the legislative session, and will soon be put into action.

SCR11 is a resolution taking aim at Utah's radon gas problem. It the first action Utah has taken on the issue, despite over two decades of warnings.

However, the resolution is not a law; it's a request asking homeowners to test for radon, realtors to educate and government agencies to give time and money to the cause. It also designates January 2014 as Utah State Radon Action Month. In short, the resolution is more about education than mandates.