Search Results for: radon

El Radón – ¿Por qué lo ignoramos?

Por El señor Shelly Ropsenblum

La psicología es fascinante, sobre todo, cuando la aplicamos a nosotros mismos; o en contra de nosotros mismos para ser más precisos. ¿Cuándo la usamos en nuestra contra? Cuando alguien nos dice que hagamos la prueba de radón y nos decimos a nosotros mismos que esto no es tan importante.

Aunque es difícil percibir cómo algo que no se puede ver ni oler puede hacernos daño, acaso ¿hay algo más que nos impida actuar? Después de todo, el Cirujano General y las organizaciones de salud pública como la Asociación Americana del Pulmón (ALA, por sus siglas en inglés) y la Agencia de Protección Ambiental  (EPA, por sus siglas en inglés) nos dicen que el radón es la causa principal de cáncer pulmonar, secundada solamente por el consumo de tabaco. Por lo general tomamos los mensajes de estas organizaciones en serio, entonces, ¿por qué ignoramos este peligro en nuestros hogares?

El doctor Peter M. Sandman es un experto en comunicación de riesgos. El ayuda a las personas a entender por qué le tenemos miedo a algunas cosas que conllevan poco riesgo y por qué pasamos por alto las que conllevan un gran riesgo – como el radón. Él describe este comportamiento con una fórmula: Riesgo = peligro + indignación. ¿Qué significa indignación en este caso? Supongamos que una empresa derrama una substancia toxica en el vecindario, creando un peligro para su salud. Nos enojaríamos. Suponga que no son sinceros sobre la cantidad derramada y el nivel de peligro. ¡¿Estaríamos más enojados o INDIGNADOS?!

Riesgo = peligro + indignación. Mientras más indignados estemos mayor será el riesgo percibido. Incluso aunque el peligro haya sido mínimo, pero la indignación era intensa percibiríamos un riesgo alto. Entonces aplique esto al radón ya que es un fenómeno natural, nadie debe estar enojado con él, ni tampoco indignado. Al no tener a nadie que culpar, nos convencernos a nosotros que el riesgo es mínimo. Es la falta de indignación la que nos hace que nos engañarnos a nosotros mismos y nos impide tomar acción. Considere lo siguiente: Si usted se entera que en la escuela de sus niños no han hecho la prueba de radón, o que encontraron niveles elevados, pero no se lo han dicho a nadie, estaría usted enojado, de repente percibiría el riesgo como inmenso, y usted demandaría acción. Examine más a fondo, un día sus niños podrían tener razones para estar enojados con USTED, por usted no haber hecho la prueba de radón en la casa donde ellos crecieron.

Haga la prueba, haga los arreglos necesarios, Salve una vida. Hacer la prueba de radón es simple y de bajo costo. Los arreglos a un hogar con niveles elevados de radón son comparables a otras reparaciones menores del hogar. Esto es un seguro barato en contra del cáncer pulmonar y en contra de tener a sus hijos indignados con usted. Conozca más sobre cómo hacer la prueba de radón en su hogar.

Acerca del autor: El señor Shelly Ropsenblum trabaja con el equipo de Radiación y el Medio Ambiente Interior en la región 9 ubicada en San Francisco, CA.

El radón puede ser radiactivo y causar cáncer pulmonar, pero ¿acaso puede activar las alarmas en una planta de energía nuclear?

Hay muchas cosas que usted puede hacer por su salud.  Yo, yo voy a vivir para siempre.  Yo como vegetales, tomo vitaminas, hago ejercicios, compro productos orgánicos, evito los productos químicos, utilizo un filtro de aire, y tomo té verde. ¿Sabe en qué debería estar pensando?.  Bueno, el año pasado, escribí acerca de cómo hice la prueba de radón en mi casa, ¿se acuerda? Treinta años atrás, la prueba de radón no estaba en la lista de deberes para tener una casa y un cuerpo sano.   De hecho cuando estaba pequeña mis padres no hicieron la prueba de radón en nuestro hogar.

¿Por qué hice la prueba de radón en mi casa? Es simple. Pensé en el señor Stanley Watras y su familia.  El señor Watras trabajó como ingeniero de construcción en la planta de energía nuclear Limerick en Pensilvania.  Un día mientras entraba a la planta, se activó la alarma de radiación.  ¿Cómo sucedió esto?, es un misterio ya que no se había traído material radiactivo a la planta.  Los investigadores en búsqueda de la fuente de radiación, finalmente, decidieron hacer la prueba de radón en su casa.  Increíblemente, la cantidad de radón a la que el señor Watras estaba expuesto en su casa (foto abajo) era suficiente para activar las alarmas de radiación en una planta nuclear.  El nivel de radón en el hogar de Watras era de un promedio de 2,700 pCi/L. En mi casa el nivel de radón era cerca de 6 pCI/L.

Radon

Aunque  el nivel de radón en mi casa no estaba activando ninguna alarma de radiación,  aun se consideraba alto.  La Agencia de Protección Ambiental (EPA, por sus siglas en inglés) recomienda que se reduzca el radón en su hogar si es de 4 pCi/L o mayor.

El primer paso para prevenir el cáncer pulmonar debido al radón es hacer la prueba de radón en su hogar; pero esto no va a cambiar nada a menos que usted haga algo al respecto.   Si los niveles de radón en la casa del señor Watras se pudieron reducir de 2,700 pCi/L a  menos de 4 pCi/L, también los suyos pueden reducirse.  Visite la página web de la EPA para más información, incluyendo cómo encontrar un profesional calificado en radón que pueda hacer la prueba de radón en su hogar, hacer la prueba o realizar operaciones de mitigación.  También podrá aprender acerca de cómo se puede construir una casa nueva con características resistentes al radón.

Acerca del autor: Jani Palmer es una científica en el Centro para el Radón y Tóxicos del Aire de la EPA en la División de Entornos Internos.  Ella ha estado trabajando en la calidad del aire interior  y en el campo de la higiene ambiental hace más de 10 años, dando sus servicios como consultora ambiental tanto a distritos escolares como a la industria y las agencias públicas.

Radon May Be Radioactive And Cause Cancer, But Can It Set Off Alarms In A Nuclear Power Plant?

By Jani Palmer

There’s a lot that you can do for your health. Me, I’m going to live forever. I eat my veggies, take vitamins, exercise, buy organic, avoid chemicals, use a pleated air filter and drink green tea. Know what else you should be thinking about? Well, last year I wrote about how I tested my home,  remember? Thirty some years ago, testing for radon wasn’t on the list of things to do for a healthy home and body. When I was a kid, my parents certainly weren’t testing for radon.

Why did I test my home? Simple; I think about Stanley Watras and his family. Stanley Watras worked as a construction engineer building the Limerick Nuclear Power Plant in Pennsylvania. As he entered the facility one day, he set off the radiation alarm. How this happened was a mystery since no radioactive material had yet been brought into the plant. Investigators searched for the source and finally decided to test his home for radon. Incredibly, the amount of radon to which Mr. Watras was exposed at home (photo below) was sufficient to activate radiation alarms in a nuclear power plant. The radon level in my home was about 6 pCi/L; the level in Stanley Watras’ home averaged 2,700 pCi/L.

While the radon level in my home wasn’t setting off any radiation alarms, it was still considered high. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends action to reduce radon if the radon level in your home is 4 pCi/L or higher.

Testing your home is the first step, but it’s not going to change anything unless you take action. If the radon in Stanley Watras’ home can be reduced from 2,700 pCi/L to under 4 pCi/L, then so can yours. Visit EPA’s radon home page for more insight, including how to find a qualified radon service professional to test or mitigate your home, and how to build a new home with radon-resistant features .

About the author: Jani Palmer is a physical scientist in EPA’s Center for Radon and Air Toxics, Indoor Environments Division. She has been in the indoor air quality and industrial hygiene field for more than 10 years providing environmental consulting and services for school districts, industry and public agencies.

Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Boogiemen and Radon

By Jeanethe Falvey

Both are colorless and odorless. Both, I believe are also in the gaseous phase, but to tell you the truth when I was little I didn’t stick around in any darkened room or hallway long enough to find out for sure. I booked it to my room well before any chance of that.

Radon and boogiemen each have the potential to come up into your house from your basement, this I know. The biggest difference however, is that radon is unquestionably real, despite the fact that you can’t see, smell, hear or taste it. As a result, there are quite a few more facts available about radon too.

About 1 in every 15 homes has elevated levels of this naturally occurring, radioactive gas. Radon comes from the natural decay of uranium which is just about everywhere in the rocks, soil and water on Earth. It can become a problem for your health if your home traps elevated levels of it. Radon can move up through the soil from bedrock, soil or groundwater underneath your home and can come inside through cracks or holes in your foundation.

Luckily for you and your families, it’s easy to test for and the remedies often cost the same as other minor home repairs. Put bluntly, testing for radon and fixing the problem can save your life. Radon is the leading cause of lung cancer in non-smokers.

This month, we’re asking you to take action and test for radon as part of your Pick 5, for the health of you and your loved ones.

Learn more from Dr. Oz about radon and check out our map of radon zones too. Even if you live in a ‘low potential area’, be safe and test anyway as every home is different. Have questions? Use our map of EPA contacts by state for local information nearest to you.

It’s an easy Do-It-Yourself project: test, fix, save a life. Now if only getting rid of boogiemen were so simple.

About the author: Jeanethe Falvey writes from EPA’s Office of External Affairs and Environmental Education, as the project-lead for Pick 5 and the State of the Environment, two projects geared towards learning, sharing and gaining a greater collective connection to our environment.

The Radon Kids

By Wendy Dew

You are never too young to start saving the world! Kids of all ages are tackling tough environmental issues with enthusiasm and drive.
Eric,10, and sister Christina, 12, have founded the grassroots initiative RAP-Detect to Protect, a collaborative with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, and the American Lung Association. The objective of Radon Awareness Project, or RAP, is to work in partnership with city, county and state offices to assure that families, schools and elected officials are aware of the potential threat. Christina was recently recognized for her entry in the Colorado 2011 Radon Poster Contest. This is their third award in the contest. Their first came in 2008 when they first learned of the contest and radon.

January is National Radon Action Month and the U.S Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and eight other federal agencies are announcing a new effort to strengthen the fight against radon exposure. Radon exposure is the leading cause of non-smoking lung cancer.
Radon is a naturally-occurring, invisible and odorless radioactive gas. One in 15 American homes contains high levels of radon. Millions of Americans are unknowingly exposed to this dangerous gas. By taking simple steps to test your home for radon and fix if necessary, this health hazard can be avoided.

If your home hasn’t been tested for radon in the past two years, EPA and the Surgeon General urge you to take action. Contact your state radon office for information on locating qualified test kits or qualified radon testers.

For more information

About the author: Wendy Dew has been with EPA for 13 years and is the Environmental Education and Outreach Coordinator for Region 8 in Denver, Colorado.

Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

How I Tested My Home for Radon

By Jani Palmer

I used to be afraid to know if I had high radon levels in my home. I asked questions, I researched, I analyzed, I procrastinated, but the most important step was just doing it. Compared to a calculus exam or even a driving test, a radon test is hands down the easiest.

I live in an area known to have high radon levels, yet it took me nearly a year to test. Why? Probably because I rent my house. I felt a little helpless as to what I would do if I actually did have high radon. Despite my fears, I finally tested my home, and I’m so happy I did. It doesn’t matter if you live in an area that is geologically prone to have high radon levels; the only way to know is to test.

Here’s how I tested my home — it’s this easy:
Step 1: Ordered a radon test kit.
Step 2: Read the directions.
Step 3: Tested. For most tests, this means set it down for two days, retrieve it and mail it.

Seriously, what could be easier? If you don’t know where to start, visit EPA’s radon website. It’s packed with resources on everything from why testing is importing to how to fix your home. You also can call the radon hotline at 1-800-SOS-RADON. I ordered my test kit from a company that takes part in a national proficiency program that ensures testing laboratories are certified and are providing quality measurements. Visit their websites at National Environmental Health Association or National Radon Safety Board for contacts and additional information. A certified tester can even come to your home and test for you if you don’t want to do it yourself. Testing is just so easy. Radon is the number one cause of lung cancer in the U.S. among non-smokers. Don’t you want to know what is in your home?

About the author: Jani Palmer is a physical scientist in EPA’s Center for Radon and Air Toxics, Indoor Environments Division. She has been in the indoor air quality and industrial hygiene field for 10 years providing environmental consulting and services for school districts, industry and public agencies.

Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

My Long Relationship with One Serious Health Risk – Radon

By Lou Witt

January is National Radon Action Month — a key time to focus on a year-round effort — and I’ve seen a lot of them. For more than 18 years, I have worked to improve indoor air quality; much of that time focused on radon risk reduction. Unfortunately, for more years than I’d like to mention, I’ve probably been exposed to elevated levels of radon and didn’t even know it.

Growing up, I spent innumerable hours in our basement play/party room — often with family and friends — ignorant, but blissful. How much radon was I exposed to? I don’t know; No one knew to test. It was probably higher than I’d like to think about as our home was in an area with high radon potential.

Fortunately, when I bought my own home, I knew to test regardless of location. I may even vaguely remember that it was quickly mentioned during the sale. When I tested the lowest floor of my home, my result was 18 picocuries per liter of air of radon –—pretty far above EPA’s action level of 4 pCi/l. Since I spent very little time in the cellar — it’s really not a livable space — I measured on the first floor. It was right below 4 pCi/l. A lower number would have been better, but at least I’m under EPA’s action level.

Radon is one health risk we can all avoid and it’s simple. Test your home and fix the problem. Mitigating a radon problem costs about the same as other household repairs and this change can save your life.

Get information on radon and find information for your state radon office.

About the author:  Lou Witt, program analyst for the Center for Radon and Air Toxics, Indoor Environments Division.

Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Taking Action on Radon in Your School District? No Better Time than the Present!

By Jani Palmer

Three months ago I blogged to parents and teachers about opportunities for kids to participate in a radon poster contest to get their design on a T-shirt to celebrate National Radon Action Month. Responses were abundant, and let me tell you the posters being voted on as I blog are phenomenal! A T-shirt is a great way to raise awareness about indoor air quality bu the best way to protect against radon is to test. I used to work on indoor air quality in a school district, so I know about the only time to get something substantial done is during holiday breaks. I know it crept up on us, but the holidays are here, so what better time to test your school for radon than right now?

Radon control is as integral to school health as other IAQ management activities and fits right in with your IAQ Tools for Schools management activities. About half of our nation’s schools are deploying these activities, providing healthier learning environments fo about 27 million students and 2.5 million staff. If your school doesn’t use the IAQ Tools for Schools Action Kit, take a look at the graphic here from the kit that shows how an effective school IAQ program integrates planning, communicating and four other key drivers. Why not attend the 11th IAQ Tools for Schools National Symposium in January? Click here for information from the IAQ Tools for Schools Action Kit on how you can manage radon along with your other day-to-day IAQ duties.

Radon testing and mitigation don’t have to be scary topics, because radon is so easily identified and fixed. What is scary is that radon causes cancer. Testing is the only way to know if your building has radon, and knowing if your building has radon is the first step toward fixing it. Having trouble knowing where to start? Contact your state radon program for guidance through the process.

Across the country, school facilities staff are working hard to protect IAQ for students, teachers, and staff. If you know about a school district that’s doing a great job, be sure to congratulate them with a quick note below. Their dedication and perseverance to maintaining healthy building by fixing holes, changing ceiling tiles and testing rooms can make a huge difference in someone’s life, and for that, they deserve our thanks!

About the author: Jani Palmer is a Physical Scientist in the Indoor Environments Division. She has been in the indoor air quality and industrial hygiene field for 10 years providing environmental consulting and services for school districts, industry, and public agencies.

Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

That’s My Daughter’s Radon Poster Design on the T-Shirt You’re Wearing!

I love T-shirts, but what I love even more is a T-shirt about radon, and what I love even more than that is seeing my daughter’s poster design about radon on a T-shirt. Each year, state radon programs have been supporting children, parents and teachers to do just that for the National Radon Poster Contest. The contest is cosponsored by EPA and Kansas State University. The contest is an artistic yet educational way to teach students about radon and its effects on our health. We all have much to learn about radon, and we can help spread awareness by wearing these unique T-shirts and pinning up those posters in our offices and buildings. Do you want to know how to get contest information?2010_participatingmap

The top three picks nationwide, their teacher or sponsor, and a parent or guardian win a trip to Washington D.C. The students will be honored in front of a huge crowd of supporters at the annual IAQ Tools for Schools Symposium held from January 13 to 15, 2011. I had the pleasure of attending the national award ceremony last year. As I watched the students walk up to the podium to receive their accolades, I remembered just how powerful and passionate a message becomes when we hear it from a child.

Check out past national winners and their posters in the below photo. Visit the website to see more winning posters, video and audio. Last year’s contest had submissions from 37 states totaling nearly 3,000 entries! That’s up more than 1,000 from the year before. Well done!poster-winners-2009_

Don’t think you’re getting off that easy because I have a challenge: Let’s get entries from all 50 states this year! Look at the map of the poster contest participation last year and let all our blog readers know when you challenge someone from one of those states in white to submit an entry. Come on Arkansas, Wyoming, Maine; I know you have at least one child age 9 to 14 who would love to take advantage of this huge opportunity to help save a life. Don’t let them miss it, and tell those kids to get their creativity on because the deadline is approaching – October 31. Some states have earlier deadlines, so check for additional information.

About the author: Jani Palmer is a Physical Scientist in the Indoor Environments Division. She has been in the indoor air quality and industrial hygiene field for 10 years providing environmental consulting and services for school districts, industry, and public agencies.

Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Radon Reflections at the Tools for Schools Symposium

January is National Radon Action Month, or NRAM. Read more about EPA’s radon activities and what others are doing to reduce their radon exposure.

Each year, EPA’s Indoor Environments Division hosts an indoor air quality, or IAQ, symposium in Washington D.C. This year’s 10th IAQ Tools for Schools National Symposium took place January 14 to 16 — during National Radon Action Month. As a scientist for EPA’s Center for Radon and Air Toxics, naturally I was delighted to have the opportunity to present radon information at the symposium.

Workgroup meeting at Indoor Air Quality SymposiumThis year’s symposium featured five school districts with specific IAQ design challenges. Each attendee played an integral role as a design team member, formulating strategies to help a school district improve IAQ management. As I interacted with teams, I discovered IAQ stakeholders in many forms: facilities managers, building technicians, nurses, principals, government and even parents. Despite their different roles, people were passionate for school health and worked together to produce excellent solutions in a short period of time.

Discussions about radon were abundant at the symposium. While sipping my latte, a man started a conversation about radon in his school district. He whispered as if it were a secret, “We build radon prevention right into our new school designs.” My eyes lit up so bright; I think I startled him, or maybe he thought I was going to hug him. The importance of preventing pollutants from entering a building is no secret; think about how vapor barriers, gutters and even window screens keep a number of pollutants safely out of the indoor environment.

I overheard someone say, “How will they know if they don’t test?” I smiled and shook my head vigorously in agreement. Clearly this person had just grasped how important it is to test for radon. Just when I thought it couldn’t get any better, three children were recognized during the National Radon Poster Contest awards luncheon, and EPA’s Administrator, Lisa P. Jackson, touted the benefits of recognizing radon in school IAQ.

As I reflect on activities at the symposium, it’s clear that radon is certainly at the forefront of school IAQ management. My hope is that symposium attendees will share their reflections on the symposium here or blog about it on radonleaders.org. Please comment, reply and get your story out there.

About the Author: Jani Palmer is a Physical Scientist in the Indoor Environments Division. She has been in the indoor air quality and industrial hygiene field for 10 years providing environmental consulting and services for school districts, industry, and public agencies.