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Students recognized for local radon project

Superior’s Advanced Biology class recently competed at the 12th Annual Clean Air and Healthy Homes Program. On May 17, the students took their data regarding a remediation project they did at the school earlier this year.

The project stemmed from a class where students received radon detectors from Clean and Healthy Homes. They tested radon in the school and found high levels, especially in the basement. As a result, the students created a remediation project to help eliminate the noxious gas. Their efforts were successful and it lead to a presentation at the Annual Montana Science Fair held in March at the University of Montana.

At the Clean Air and Healthy Homes competition in Missoula, they presented their results to a cast of scientific judges. Superior students competed against 180 students from eight schools from around western Montana and Idaho.

How to breathe easier at home

How's the atmosphere in your home? We're not talking about the mood or décor – we're talking about the air, literally.

You probably don't think much about the air around you, but you spend hours breathing it every day, and it can be full of stuff you don't want in your lungs.

"Sometimes people overlook indoor air pollutants, which in some ways are very similar to outdoor air pollutants," said Hsin-Neng Hsieh, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at the New Jersey Institute of Technology in Newark.

"The Environmental Protection Agency has published data saying that pollution in our buildings is two to five times greater than outdoors," said Daniel Kopec, an architect in Glen Ridge who teaches building systems and technology at the institute. "We're spending 90 percent of our time in buildings, so it's a huge problem."

With those warnings in mind, here are seven things you can do to breathe easier inside your four walls:

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Test for Radon

Public Review of AARST’s Radon Mitigation Standards for Multifamily Buildings Open Until March 18, 2013

The AARST Consortium on National Radon Standards notes that public review for a new American National Standard, BSR/AARST RMS-MF-201x, Radon Mitigation Standards for Multifamily Buildings, is open and the organization is seeking comments by March 18, 2013 on this new standard, which can be ordered for review purposes at standards@aarst.org.

In order to meet a pressing need for mitigating multifamily buildings, the American Association of Radon Scientists and Technologists recently released a provisional standard that is identical to the document currently being noticed.

Gary Hodgden, Chair of the Consortium’s Executive Stakeholders Committee, said the proposed radon standard is undergoing an consensus development process following AARST's accredited procedures and is working towards publication within two years as an American National Standard (ANS.)

Hubbell to Put Radon Mitigation System in Homes

Hubbell’s new homes will come standard with a passive radon mitigation system to help protect families threatened by the deadly gas.

The West Des Moines developer’s move could push other homebuilders to provide the system that’s used to rid homes of the naturally occurring radioactive gas, said Rick Welke, a radon program manager at the Iowa Department of Public Health.

Radon — a colorless, odorless gas that’s produced from the breakdown of uranium in the earth — is the leading cause of lung cancer among nonsmokers, Welke said. Radon is prevalent in the state, “where over half of Iowa homes test above the EPA action level,” he said.

Building the mitigation system into Hubbell homes will help reduce costs for families that find radon is occurring above federally accepted standards, Welke said. Fans are added to existing mitigation systems to actively eliminate radon from a home.

Radon Primer: How to Test Your Home For It, and Make Fixes If Needed

When news of elevated indoor-radon risk in the Portland area broke last month, I figured saying home test kits were "widely available" and briefly describing the typical fix would do the trick.

Wrong. The questions from readers, co-workers and neighbors keep coming in.

The risk is real -- radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States, after smoking -- though not astronomical. The Environmental Protection Agency figures 21,000 people a year, 18,000 smokers and 3,000 nonsmokers, die of lung cancer from exposure from radon, a radioactive gas drawn from soil into homes.

Advancing Healthy Housing: A Strategy for Action

An exciting press and stakeholder event promoting radon action is taking place on Monday, February 4, 2013 from 9:00-11:30 a.m. EST, at the National Building Museum (401 F Street, NW) in Washington D.C. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will join the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) along with a number of additional federal agencies to announce “Advancing Healthy Housing: A Strategy for Action”. This new plan unifies federal activities to advance healthy housing, demonstrates the connection between housing condition and residents’ health, and promotes strategies and methods intended to control and prevent major housing-related hazards in a cost-effective manner.

Senior leaders from sponsoring agencies, including EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, will announce the release of the Strategy and discuss their respective agency’s work relating to the Strategy’s vision and goals.

Mike Holmes: Radon Makes a Comeback

Mike Holmes: Radon Makes a Comeback

Something I haven’t spoken about in a while is now suddenly a hot topic again. What’s everyone asking about? Radon. Go figure.

Most people are scared of radon. The truth is not a lot of people know what it is. They usually think it’s a soil problem. But it’s actually a gas problem.

Radon comes from uranium in the ground. Uranium is everywhere. It’s in all kinds of soil. And when it breaks down, it produces a radioactive gas that is odourless, colourless and tasteless. This gas is radon.

When radon gas is released in the air outside, it gets diluted. But if it finds its way into your home it can accumulate. That’s when it becomes dangerous.
How does radon come into a home? Through unfinished floors, pipes, windows, sumps, cracks in foundation walls and floors, or even through foundation walls. Remember, concrete is porous. Radon is a gas, so it can come through the tiny holes in a home’s foundation walls.

State Awards Grants to Address Health Hazards in Homes

The Minnesota Department of Health has awarded grants totaling $250,000 to seven local health agencies, including one in Pope County, to develop and implement programs that address health hazards frequently found in homes.

The Minnesota Department of Health has awarded grants totaling $250,000 to seven local health agencies, including one in Pope County, to develop and implement programs that address health hazards frequently found in homes; hazards such as lead, radon and other indoor air pollutants, including tobacco smoke and carbon monoxide, fire safety risks and others.

The grants will fund local efforts that are designed to encourage prevention activities, provide guidance and support to individuals exposed to lead, asthma triggers and other unhealthy conditions within their homes. The grantees will be required to:

Complete a strategic planning and needs assessment process.

Pilot home assessments and education methods.

Make Yours a Healthy Home

Make Yours a Healthy Home

MASON CITY — Keep your home healthy if you want to stay healthy in winter, health officials say.

“Our homes can directly affect how healthy we are as people,”said Erik Gustafson, Healthy Homes coordinator with the Cerro Gordo County Department of Public Health. “Here in the upper Midwest, we spend a large majority of our time inside the home in the winter.”

Here are a few ways to be safe:

  • Have your furnace serviced annually by a professional.
  • Have your gas furnace and gas water heater checked at least once a year to make sure they are exhausting correctly to prevent a buildup of carbon monoxide.
  • Check your furnace filter monthly to see if it’s getting clogged. If it is, change it.
  • If you have a gas furnace, install a working carbon monoxide detector. CO detectors should be located near sleeping areas.
  • Install working smoke detectors. Check the batteries monthly.

Indies Only: Karen Claus Helping Keep Homeowners Safe

Indies Only: Karen Claus Helping Keep Homeowners Safe

Karen Claus started RKC Inspections Radon Testing Service 11 years ago and has tested thousands of homes in the Chicago area, measuring radon levels and determining whether the family living there is at risk.

Radon is a colorless, odorless and tasteless radioactive gas and the leading cause of lung cancer in nonsmokers. Testing is the only way to know if there is a risk, states Illinois Emergency Management Agency’s Division of Nuclear Safety (IEMA).

IEMA provides radon testing results for each zip code. Of the 676 homes tested in Kendall County through 2010, 35 percent tested over the level where action is necessary (4.0 pCi/L). Claus explained that this percentage has decreased from the 2006 results which showed 58 percent of tested homes in Kendall County were over the action level. The 2010 report includes homes which installed radon mitigation systems and were tested to ensure the system is working properly.