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Reading, Writing and Radon

Reading, Writing and Radon

You can't see it, you can't touch it, you can't taste it, and you can't smell it.

Radon develops from the breakdown of soil and rock, seeping into buildings and the air we breathe. University of Iowa Professor Bill Field is on of the world's foremost experts on radon. He says chronic exposure to the gas could be deadly;

"If you're very unlucky you can be exposed to radon for just a couple of weeks and from that exposure, develop lung cancer."

Radon levels vary from state to state across the country, but Iowa and most of Illinois are considered "ground zero" for the radioactive, cancer-causing gas. And the places we expect to be safe, could be far from it.

Dr. Field estimates 90,000 classrooms nationwide are riddles with radon; our youth being exposed to it everyday.

The Risks of Radon

The Risks of Radon

Now is a very good time to test your home for radon.

Radon alone is attributable to 2,900 deaths a year from lung cancer and is responsible for about half of our total lifetime exposure to radiation.

It is a heavy, colorless, odorless gas that emerges from the ground and collects in cellars and the lower floors of houses, especially in the months when windows are closed and heating draws radon through any leaks or below-ground openings into the house.

It is easy to test for radon. Very inexpensive test kits are readily available online and at some hardware stores. Place the kit in your cellar or first floor away from any windows for a period of two to seven days. Test results are measured in pico curries per liter of air (pci/L).

Cancer-Causing Radon Escapes from Legislative Attention

Cancer-Causing Radon Escapes from Legislative Attention

Radon, typically found in the basement of a house, kills 400 Iowans a year, but the state health department cannot carry out a state law designed to help protect residents from the deadly gas because it doesn’t have any staff to do so.

Hundreds of radon mitigation systems that are supposed to funnel toxic gas out of basements are not getting tested and could be defective.

Classified as a class A carcinogen like arsenic and asbestos, the colorless and odorless gas causes lung cancer when radon decay particles attach to dust and are breathed into the lungs and damage the DNA, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

“The law says we’re supposed to do inspections but we can’t because we don’t have the funds to do it,” said Rick Welke, radon program manager at the Iowa Department of Public Health. “There’s people installing 200 systems a year, and they’ve never been inspected.”

States May Lose Federal Help in Fighting Radon

WASHINGTON -- A dry cough, a small pain in her shoulder blade - it was probably just allergies, Liz Hoffmann thought before a doctor's visit in 2003. But a chest X-ray soon told a different story. A 5-centimeter mass was growing in her left lung. Soon came the surgery, followed by the nauseating chemo drugs. Next Hoffmann endured daily rounds of chest radiation.

But late in the summer of 2006 the cancer returned. This time more than 4 liters of fluid filled her chest, which was drained twice a week. She endured another round of chemotherapy. By 2008, the cancer had spread to her brain, where the lesions have since multiplied.

Today Hoffmann, 46, is facing a fourth round of chemotherapy, as she continues to beat her original odds of post-diagnosis survival: a 15 percent chance of living five years.

But what caused her cancer? After all, she had neither smoked nor lived among smokers.

The Radon Threat Is Still With Us (New York Times)

Iowa City

“I AM really sorry to tell you this, but you have less than a 50 percent chance of living for one year and about a 15 percent chance of living for five years.”

This gloomy prognosis is delivered each year to thousands of Americans who have been given a diagnosis of lung cancer caused by exposure to the radioactive gas radon. Since the late 1980s, a half million Americans have died from radon-induced lung cancer, including a significant number who never smoked a day in their lives. You may have heard of radon more than 20 years ago when dangerous levels were first found in homes across the country. But the risks posed by this gas still have not been addressed in much of the nation.

Testing Indicates Elevated Radon Levels at Mahonia Hall, Oregon Governor's Mansion

Testing Indicates Elevated Radon Levels at Mahonia Hall, Oregon Governor's Mansion

Mahonia Hall, the Oregon governor's mansion in Salem, has elevated levels of radon gas in its basement, initial test results showed Wednesday.

Portland-based EcoTech put two short-term, 96-hour radon monitors in the in the basement at the request of Cylvia Hayes, Gov. John Kitzhaber's companion.

The $175 test measured an average radon level of 6.2 picocuries per liter of air in the basement's billiard room and 4.8 in a storage room. The Environmental Protection Agency's recommended action level for fixing a home is 4 picocuries per liter. But the agency also recommends longer-term testing before installing ventilation systems or taking other steps to reduce radon.

Radon Findings Debunk Cancer Cluster Concerns at Clinton Twp. Schools

Radon Findings Debunk Cancer Cluster Concerns at Clinton Twp. Schools

CLINTON TWP. – The results are in, and two of Clinton Township’s four school buildings have tested higher than the acceptable limit for radon concentrations established by state and federal agencies.

The testing was originally spurred by an unusual number of teachers in the district diagnosed with cancer, but school officials said the findings confirmed that the presence of radon gas was unrelated to the cancer cases.

Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas that is odorless, colorless and tasteless, said officials, and can be harmful when found in high concentrations

Jason Hooper, Brinkerhoff Environmental Services' senior project manager, presented the radon test findings and explained the mitigation plan to a small group of parents and administrators at a public meeting Wednesday, March 21 at Clinton Township Middle School.

Passaic County Initiates Radon Awareness Program

The Passaic County Department of Health announced on March 13 that it will once again participate in the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Radon Bureau's special radon awareness program to promote testing for radon in homes.

In its "Radon Awareness Program" (RAP), the DEP Radon Bureau provides outreach assistance to promote radon testing in homes. For communities participating in RAP, the DEP provides the county health department with radon informational materials regarding how residents can reduce the risk to radon exposure. The Passaic County Department of Health and the Passaic County Cancer Coalition want to ensure that residents are aware of the need to test their homes and reduce radon levels where necessary. The state provided funds to the Passaic County Department of Health for a limited amount of free radon test kits.

Lawrence Township Initiates Radon Awareness Program

Lawrence Township Initiates Radon Awareness Program

Radon kits will be available from the lawrence Township Health Department for township residents on a first-come, first-served basis. There will be a limit of one free test kit per household.
The Lawrence Township Health Department is working in conjunction with the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Radon Section to promote testing for radon in homes within the township. In its “Radon Awareness Program” the DEP Radon Section provides outreach assistance to promote radon testing.

The township is pleased to cooperate with the DEP in this program to ensure residents are aware of the need to test homes and reduce radon levels where necessary. Testing is the only way to know if you and your family are at risk from radon.

Radon kits will be available at the health department on a first-come, first-served basis. There will be a limit of one free test kit per household.

Radon Gas in U.S. Classrooms

Radon Gas in U.S. Classrooms

Health officials warn that thousands of the nation's classrooms are filled with high levels of radioactive radon gas. Chronic exposure could lead to lung cancer, but many school districts aren't doing anything about it.

Watch a video of Dr. David Sanderson, Professor of Medicine Emeritus and learn more about radon.

WEDNESDAY, Feb. 29, 2012 — Imagine your child is smoking a half a pack of cigarettes per day at school. Inhaling radon, even at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s action level, the level at which it recommends schools take action to mitigate radon exposure, yields just about the same result as that half-pack-a-day habit. That’s what radon expert Bill Field told the Today show in a new investigative report.