Radon Testing

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.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here 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.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

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.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here 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.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

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.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here 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.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

Healthy Schools, Healthy Children

I’ve never questioned that good indoor air quality in schools is critical to the success and health of our students and teachers. In addition to the health effects, students and staff that are exposed to poor indoor air quality (IAQ) experience decreased performance and diminished concentration levels. That’s why, as part of the Jicarilla Apache Nation Environmental Protection Office, I’ve been working with schools to improve their indoor air since 1995. Truthfully, we initially had mixed success. It was difficult to communicate to every school group why indoor air quality was important – from custodians to teachers to principals, everyone valued something different. So in 2000, when we heard about the Indoor Air Quality Tools for Schools Program and that it offered a framework for schools to do just that, we were on board. We didn’t know if the guidance would help us, but thankfully it did.

Over the past nine years, we’ve had a lot of successes. We were able to get everyone in our schools advocating for healthy indoor air quality and convinced them that by using a systematic approach, and ready-made checklists and resources, they could lead this effort. I’d like to share a couple of our stories that show just how much a comprehensive program can make a difference.

The first story is short, but it packs a lot of punch. Not long after we met with teachers for a formal IAQ training, we received a report from a teacher who was concerned that her classroom was making her and her students sick. When we investigated the room, we discovered a major mold problem. Following remediation guidance, we were able to clean up the mold and the teacher and students were able to enjoy a safe and healthy learning environment once again.

The second story revolves around radon, another important component of an IAQ management program. As part of our comprehensive IAQ effort, we conducted radon testing in all of our schools. At the Dulce Middle School, we discovered levels well above EPA’s action level of 4 pCi/L and undertook five distinct mitigation projects to guarantee low levels of radon. In the end, our mitigation effort was successful, but it took a lot of work, time and money.

I encourage anyone who works with schools, in schools, or for schools to take these stories to heart and advocate for an IAQ management program. You will make a difference. Start with the EPA guidance and if you can, attend the Indoor Air Quality Tools for Schools Symposium – a premier event that helps brings this guidance to life.

About the Author: Pauline Electric-Warrior is a member of the Jicarilla Apache Nation. She works in the Environmental Protection Office of the Jicarilla Apache Nation in Dulce, New Mexico.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here 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.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

Comprométase a proteger a su familia y elimine el radón de su hogar en el 2009

Acerca del autor: El constructor Fuad Reveiz* es un ex jugador estrella del fútbol americano profesional y un miembro de la Asociación Nacional de Constructores de Viviendas. El tiene su propia compañía de construcción y desarrollo en Knoxville, TN. Además, incluye elementos resistentes al radón cuando construye nuevas viviendas.

Recientemente los titulares han sido bastantes sombríos—crisis en los mercados financieros y de vivienda, una temporada adversa para los minoristas, por ejemplo. Al reflexionar sobre estos asuntos, un amigo me dijo recientemente “al menos estoy en buenas condiciones de salud”. ¡Cuánta razón tenía! Yo atesoro mi salud y la de mi familia. Como constructor, propietario de vivienda, y padre, sé que el tener una casa saludable y verde es extremadamente importante para proteger la salud de mi familia.

En mi experiencia como constructor, las casas que son construidas tomando en cuenta las normas de salud y seguridad se venden más rápidamente. Día a día son más los clientes que saben cuán importante es la calidad del aire interior para la salud de su familia. También saben que uno de los contaminantes más peligrosos del aire en entornos interiores es el radón. Hace varios años aprendí sobre los riesgos a la salud que surgen al respirar el radón de la Asociación Americana del Pulmón y aprendí cómo se podrían construir nuevos hogares prevenir el radón penetre en los mismos.

El radón es un gas radioactiva mortal que sube desde debajo del suelo y penetra en cualquier hogar. El respirar radón puede ocasionar cáncer pulmonar. De hecho, el radón en la principal causa de cáncer de los pulmones después de la de fumar—y entre los no-fumadores es la principal causa de cáncer pulmonar.

Las buenas nuevas son que las casas pueden estar construidas más seguras, más saludables y resistentes al radón. Las técnicas para prevenir el radón de entrar en el hogar son prácticas y directas para cualquier constructor. Es una manera de bajo costo para ofrecer a las familias un beneficio que podría reducir su riesgo al cáncer pulmonar. Es una manera inteligente de desarrollar confianza entre los constructores y sus clientes. Si está pensando comprar una nueva vivienda, pregúntele al constructor acerca de los elementos resistentes al radón o busque un constructor que utilice estas prácticas resistentes al radón para hacer que su hogar sea más saludable y verde a la vez.

Espero que usted decida proteger a sus seres queridos al aprender acerca del radón, realizar la prueba del radón, y eliminarlo de su hogar. La temporada de invierno es un buen momento para informarse acerca del radón ya que enero es el Mes Nacional de Acción del Radón y es una buena época para crear conciencia sobre el radón. Como alguien que ha dedicado tiempo a este esfuerzo, recomiendo que inicie el nuevo año con el propósito de tener una casa más saludable comenzando desde los cimientos hacia arriba.

Para información detallada acerca de la nueva construcción resistente al radón, las pruebas de radón y el Mes Nacional de Acción del Radón, visite: http://www.epa.gov/radon/.

*EPA no auspicia ningún contratista en particular ni ninguna otra empresa o servicio comercial.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here 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.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

National Radon Action Month: Test Your Home For Radon

About the author: Julia Ortiz joined EPA in April of 2008.  She works in communications for the Office of Air and Radiation in Washington, DC.
 
January is National Radon Action Month, and I hope that it can be the time when you take a small step to protect your family by testing your home for radon. Until I started working at EPA, radon testing wasn’t on my radar, much less my to-do list. I have vague memories of hearing about it in high school chemistry class, but I never thought of it as something I should be concerned about. In my job as a communication specialist, I sift through a lot of meaningful statistics. This one really stands out – radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer. Knowing I could prevent something as serious as cancer with something as simple as a radon test astonished me.

Every day I have to explain a wide range of issues so that the public can easily understand them. In this case, my parents were my target audience – they hadn’t tested their home for radon. I bought them a radon test kit and dropped it off at their house. Little did I know that I was about to face my greatest communication challenge yet: my mom. When I arrived with the test kit, she eyed the package warily and asked dozens of questions. She was worried about what would happen if we found high radon levels, whether the test was accurate, and if it was even necessary. It took some convincing, but in the end she agreed that their health was paramount, and we sent off the test. When we get the results back, we will have the peace of mind of knowing that either our radon levels are low, or that they soon will be after we install a radon mitigation system.

More information to coax stubborn relatives can be found at www.epa.gov/radon.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here 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.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

Celebrate the environment: My first holiday season in a radon-healthy, new home

About the author: Andrea Drinkard is Web Content Coordinator in EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation

From finding the right house to signing on the dotted line, buying my first home was an exciting, scary and nerve racking process. It may have been months ago when I made a life changing investment, but getting ready for the holidays in a home that’s mine has brought back those memories.

One thing that stands out, not for how much it scared me, but for its simplicity and its importance is the radon test. It’s one of those steps you barely notice, it took about five minutes for the radon testing company to place the kit and one week to get the results, but knowing that my house didn’t have a radon problem meant more than just peace of mind

Now as I wrap up my holiday shopping and make sure everything’s crossed off my list, I want to pass on the gift of good health to my friends and family. Those little radon test kits, dressed up with some festive wrapping paper and bow (of course), make great stocking stuffers. The best way to know if a home has high radon levels is to test for it. Your loved ones may not immediately know what the test kit is, but they’ll thank you every day they are healthy and happy.

Builders are going the extra mile to make sure your home is safe from radon, even before you move in. Many encourage new homes to be built radon-resistant and existing homes with high radon to be fixed.

It’s easy to protect your family from this invisible radioactive gas that seeps up from underground. So this holiday season, when you’re thinking about stuffing those stockings, consider including a radon test kit. With radon action month just around the corner in January, you’ll be ahead of the game and your friends will be ready to test their homes in the new year.

Radon test kits can be ordered online and in many hardware stores. You can also call 1-800-SOS-Radon to get a kit from the National Safety Council.

Learn more about radon at epa.gov/radon.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here 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.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.