Archive for March, 2010

Radon Testing – Simple and Safe

March 31, 2010

Now that I’ve highlighted the danger of radon and the need for testing as recommended by Health Canada, I will start to explain the simple and easy testing process.

The following is an exerpt from the Health Canada website that outlines simple radon testing.

Radon testing is relatively simple and inexpensive.   Commercial services are available to homeowners who wish to measure radon levels in their homes. Radon test devices can also be found in some hardware retailers across Canada, Health Canada is working with a number of retailers to increase the availability of these devices. The most popular long term radon detectors are the the electret ion chamber and the alpha track detector. These devices are exposed to the air in a home for a specified period of time, and then sent to a laboratory for analysis. Radon is measured in units called “becquerels per cubic meter” (Bq/m³).

It is not uncommon to see radon levels in a house change by a factor of two to three or more over a one-day period. Seasonal variations can be even more dramatic with the highest levels usually experienced during the fall and winter months when air circulation and ventilation is decreased.

Since the radon concentration inside a home varies over time, measurements gathered over a longer period of time are generally considered to give a more accurate picture of the radon exposure. Health Canada recommends that homes be tested for a minimum of three months, ideally during the winter months as the radon concentrations are usually representative at this time.

Radon in Granite

March 30, 2010

Granite has been found to emit radon. This means that it is imperative that everyone with granite floors and/or countertops get their granite tested for radon. See this video that discusses a real story of dangerously high levels of radon found in granite.

This audio interview with Doug Kladder will give you all you need to know about Radon in Granite.

The Radon Guru

March 29, 2010

The NRPP is headed by the world famous Doug Kladder. His vast knowledge and experience that he shares with his students helps them become very proficient in helping to diminish the dangers faced by their clients due to Radon. I feel very fortunate that I was able to learn from Doug during my recent NRPP training.

Protect Your Family

March 28, 2010

Although Health Canada has identified Radon as a danger and has recommended testing and mitigation, there is no Certification Program in Canada for Radon Testing and Mitigation. At this time the only fully recognized training and certification program available is through NEHA (National Environmental Health Association) and is called NRPP (National Radon Proficiency Program)

The NEHA National Radon Proficiency Program is the leading certification program for radon professionals in North America. We’re pleased to note that our program was officially deemed equivalent to the USEPA’s certification program in 2001. Since then, through the professional efforts of the National Environmental Health Association and the American Association of Radon Scientists and Technologists, and the independent oversight of both an independent Policy Advisory Board and Education Advisory Board, consisting of 16 public and private sector officials, educators, practitioners and well respected scientists, the NRRP program has grown into the largest body of radon professionals anywhere in the world. The NEHA-NRPP program is also supported administratively through both the staff of the American Association of Radon Scientist’s and independent scientists and technical advisors who serve on the AARST Technical and Science committee.

Radon Protection Bureau

March 27, 2010

Recognizing the dangers posed by Radon exposure, Canada set up the Radon Protection Bureau to provide guidance and recommendations to protect its citizens from danger.

Iowa Study on Women’s Health Risk

March 26, 2010

The National Cancer Institute reports the very thorough study on risks related to radon found in homes for both Canada and the United States.

Please see the exerpt below. I have posted a link to the entire study at the end of this post.

Scientists agree that radon causes lung cancer in humans. Recent research has focused on specifying the effect of residential radon on lung cancer risk. In these studies, scientists measure radon levels in the homes of people who have lung cancer and compare them to the levels of radon in the homes of people who have not developed lung cancer.

One of these studies, funded by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, examined residential radon exposure in Iowa among females who had lived in their current home for at least 20 years. This study included 413 females with lung cancer and 614 females without lung cancer. During the study, radon levels were tested in homes, lung cancer tissues were examined, and the scientists collected information about home characteristics and other topics. Results from this study suggested a link between exposure to radon and lung cancer.

Scientists have conducted more studies like this in other regions of the United States and around the world. Many of these studies have demonstrated an association between residential exposure to radon and lung cancer, but this finding has not been observed in all studies. The inconsistencies between studies are due in part to the small size of some studies, the varying levels of radon in many homes, and the difficulty of measuring a person’s exposure to radon over time.

Researchers have combined and analyzed data from all radon studies conducted in Canada and the United States. By combining the data from these studies, scientists were able to analyze data from thousands of people. The results of this analysis demonstrated a slightly increased risk of lung cancer associated with exposure to household radon. This increased risk was consistent with the level of risk estimated based on studies of underground miners.

Researchers are also investigating more precise ways to measure a person’s exposure to radon over time. In a study published in 2002, scientists examined radon exposure among people in Sweden who had not smoked daily for more than a year. This study included 110 people with lung cancer and 231 people without lung cancer. As with previous studies, the scientists measured radon levels of indoor air. The researchers also used a new technique of analyzing glass to estimate radon exposure over time. Using this technique, the scientists took measurements from glass in an object (e.g., a mirror or picture frame) that was at least 15 years old and had been in the person’s home throughout that time, even if the person had moved from one home to another. In this study, both of the techniques for measuring radon demonstrated a relationship between long-term exposure to radon and lung cancer, and supported the results of previous studies.

Full Study Report

Initial Discovery of Radon Linked Cancer

March 25, 2010

As you will see below, the cancer risk from exposure to radon became widely known in the 1950’s.

Please visit this link for the entire article.

In 1932, two Czech scientists and physicians published a landmark study in the American Journal of Cancer (Pirchan and Sikl 1932). They linked miners’ lung tumors with radon exposure in Czechoslovakian mines. Ten years later, Wilhelm C. Hueper, a world leading expert on lung cancer and founding director of the environmental cancer section of the U.S. National Cancer Institute, came to the same conclusion. He reviewed 300 years of radon data on European miners and found that radon gas produced lung cancer that killed more than half of all miners 10-20 years after their employment. He issued warnings worldwide, including in Canada. These were largely unheeded.

Declassified documents from the 1950s show that the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission told Hueper that references to occupational cancers among uranium miners were “not in the public interest” and “represented mere conjecture”(Nikiforuk 1998). Forty years after the Czech study was published and thirty years after Hueper’s warnings, a 1974 Ontario Royal Commission on the Health and Safety of Workers in Mines found that Elliot Lake uranium miners were experiencing twice as many lung cancers as expected. The report was filed the same year the WCB would hear Gus Froebel’s case.

Radon Video Contest

March 24, 2010

In January, the EPA chose the winner of a Radon video contest. See Eddie’s Story by clicking here.

Last July, we asked for 30-60 second video submissions with the theme “Radon: Test, Fix, Save a Life” encouraging Americans to test and fix their homes for radon, and we received more than 30 entries. The winning entry in the Radon Video Contest, titled “Eddie’s Story,” was submitted by Benjamin Schultz and Michael Gentilini. The Video Contest winners were honored at the January 28, 2009 Awards Ceremony in Washington, DC. See the winning, “Eddie’s Story,” and add to your Web site or blog.

You also should see this video from the EPA.

The History of Radon

March 23, 2010

Radon related danger has been known since 1530. Miners were suffering from an unknown disease which was identified as lung cancer in 1879.

Please see the following exerpt from Wikipedia.

The danger of high exposure to radon in mines, where exposures reaching 1,000,000 Bq/m3 can be found, has long been known. In 1530, Paracelsus described a wasting disease of miners, the mala metallorum, and Georg Agricola recommended ventilation in mines to avoid this mountain sickness (Bergsucht).[42][43] In 1879, this condition was identified as lung cancer by Herting and Hesse in their investigation of miners from Schneeberg, Germany. The first major studies with radon and health occurred in the context of uranium mining, first in the Joachimsthal region of Bohemia and then in the Southwestern United States during the early Cold War.[citation needed]

Scientific Facts about Radon

March 22, 2010

Radon is a radioactive gas naturally occuring underground. As it seeps up through the soil, it gathers around your foundation and seeps into your home. In your home it concentrates and can reach a level of concentration that is dangerous.

Please see this page about how this radioactive gas causes health concerns.