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Test your home for radon to save money, your life

FAIRBANKS — What did it cost you last time you went to the doctor or dentist? I mean before insurance, Medicare or Medicaid kicked in to bring down the cost. And that may have been just for a routine checkup or work/school annual physical. What if you needed treatment for lung cancer?

The National Cancer Institute reports the cost for the initial treatment of lung cancer in 2010 was $60,553 for women and $60,885 for men. Subsequent annual continued treatment was $8,130 and $7,591 respectively. The problem with this cancer is not only treatment expenditures, but also of survival. According to the America Cancer Society, most lung cancers have spread widely and are in advanced stages when they are first found.

But what if a simple test could alert you to the presence of the second leading cause of lung cancer — radon? Certified professionals will give you a detailed hourly average of radon levels in your home with sophisticated machinery for a couple hundred dollars.

New Tech Protects Homes from Invisible Radon Threat

You don’t have to smoke to get lung cancer. If you’re unlucky and don’t take precautions, all you have to do is breathe the air in your home.

Radon — a colorless and odorless radioactive gas found in soil — causes more than 21,000 deaths from lung cancer every year in the U.S. — more than carbon monoxide and house fires combined. Released from rock, soil and water, the uranium-derived gas can reach dangerous levels in even the best-built homes.

Read more here.

Radon Could Be A Hidden Threat In Your Home

Realtor Debra Harris had found just what her client wanted.

A duplex on Morgan Street in Throop was remodeled, in move-in condition and at a price she could afford. It checked all her boxes for an investment property. But when the home inspection came back, there was an issue: radon.

A walk through the home wouldn’t show any sign of the odorless, colorless gas that comes from the decay of uranium.

The gas causes lung cancer and is the primary cause of the cancer among people who don’t smoke, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Luzerne and Lackawanna counties, and most counties in Pennsylvania, are in the EPA’s highest zone for highest potential for unhealthy radon levels.

“She was going to have tenants in there, so she definitely needed that addressed,” Harris said.

The seller wound up installing a radon mitigation system to close the deal. As Harris remembers, it cost about $2,500.

Radon Increases Risk for Malignant Skin Cancer

It is undisputed that radon is a risk factor for developing lung cancer. New research by the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute (Swiss TPH) in the context of the Swiss National Cohort study now shows that the naturally occurring radioactive gas radon within one's home also increases the risk to develop malignant skin cancer (malignant melanoma).

The study titled "Effects of Radon and UV Exposure on Skin Cancer Mortality in Switzerland" is published in the scientific peer-reviewed journal Environmental Health Perspectives. It examines the impact of radon and UV exposure on mortality due to malignant skin cancer in Switzerland.

The study analyzed 1,900 deaths due to malignant melanoma which occurred throughout Switzerland between 2000 and 2008 in people aged 20 years and above. The residential radon exposure was modeled on the basis of 45,000 measurements and accounted for the housing's characteristics and the geological conditions of the area.

High Levels of Radon Found in Some Wells Across Pennsylvania

A new U.S. Geological Survey study has discovered high levels of radon in wells across certain areas of Pennsylvania.

The study, which was conducted in cooperation with the Pennsylvania Departments of Health and Environmental Protection, examined 1,041 well samples and found that 14 percent had radon levels at or above the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed alternative maximum contaminant level of 4,000 picocuries per liter. While the EPA does not currently regulate radon in drinking water, it has proposed this alternative limit for public water supplies in states like Pennsylvania, which has an EPA-approved radon indoor air quality program. For states without an approved program, the EPA has proposed a lower, more protective, maximum contaminant level of 300 picocuries per liter.

Bethel Park students collaborate on radon-testing project

Testing for radon comes with the possibility of producing numbers you don’t exactly want to see.

“Luckily, none of our houses in Bethel were above the actionable levels that the EPA sets,” Neil Armstrong Middle School teacher Joe Rosi said, “which is awesome.”

As part of a project involving collaboration with Bethel Park High School students, Rosi’s fifth-graders conducted tests at their homes, determining if any exceed the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s threshold at which corrective action should be taken. For the record, and for aspiring scientists, that’s four picocuries per liter.

“We have kids who already have abatement systems that exist in their houses,” Rosi said. “They didn’t know what they had them for, and now they know.”

Environmental Protection Warns of High Levels of Radon

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection is warning residents about dangerously high levels of radon.

Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas that may cause up to 21,000 lung cancer deaths a year nationally.

A spokesperson for the agency says he could not share which area is affected.

The agency says at least one home has a radon level 25 times higher than recommended. In a letter sent to one resident, the agency says Pennsylvania generally has "some of the highest radon values in the country."

The state is providing grant money to the American Lung Association in Pennsylvania for free radon tests kits to Hampden Township residents.

Read the original article here

The silent killer: How to protect your home against radon gas

Unbeknownst to millions of families, the leading cause of lung cancer among non-smokers could be lurking inside their homes.

Exposure to radon, a naturally-occurring radioactive gas, claims an estimated 24,000 lives annually, according to the National Academy of Sciences (NAS).

Many victims have never smoked a cigarette, according to the American Lung Association.

Radon, a Class-A carcinogen, is the second-leading lung cancer threat overall, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The odorless, tasteless and colorless gas can be found anywhere and can go undetected inside homes for years.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reports that one in 15 homes will test at or above the EPA’s action level of four picocuries per liter (pCi/L).

A picocurie is a measure of the rate of radon’s radioactive decay.

What is radon, and why is it dangerous?

The action level for radon, the level where the health risk warrants fixing, is 4 picocuries per liter of air (pCi/l). The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that one in 15 homes nationwide has an elevated level of radon (a level at or above the action level), while one in four homes tested in Nevada has an elevated radon level.

Because Nevada lacks any regulations that protect citizens from radon, the first step toward risk-reduction occurs through education. The second step is to test, as testing is the only way to determine a home or building's radon level.

Additionally, a home should be tested every two years, before or after remodeling and after significant seismic activity.

Read more here.

Radon risks - How concerned should you be?

Beautiful home, but how can you tell if the soil it's built on is emitting hazardous radon gas?

According to the Washington State Department of Health, radon is the single largest source of radiation for most residents of Washington and is the leading cause of lung cancer among non-smokers.

You should definitely take radon seriously if it's present in your home. But that doesn't mean you should walk away from a home you're considering for purchase because of radon fears.

Read more here.