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Press Releases

Kyle Hoylman Elected to Chair Kentucky Board of Radon Safety

An advocate against radon-induced cancer, Hoylman brings nearly two decades of experience to new role

Louisville, KY, October 13, 2020 – Kyle Hoylman, CEO of Protect Environmental, was elected to chair the newly formed Kentucky Board of Radon Safety during its inaugural meeting. The board is attached to the Department of Professional Licensing in the Public Protection Cabinet, and is responsible for promoting the control of radon and the regulation of measurement, mitigation, and analytical lab activities in Kentucky.

“Kentucky leads our nation in both lung cancer incidence and mortality, and radon is one of the main reasons for this sobering statistic,” says Hoylman. “I look forward to working with my fellow board members to address the radon problem in our state.”

Radon is the leading cause of lung cancer among non-smokers nationwide, second overall only to smoking. In some areas of Kentucky, more than 65% of all buildings contain unsafe levels of radioactive, cancer-causing radon gas. According to the most recent Radon Report Card published by the American Association of Radon Scientists and Technologists, radon-induced lung cancer is attributable to more than 1,000 incidents in Kentucky each year.

About Kyle Hoylman, Chair of the Kentucky Board of Radon Safety

Kyle currently serves on the EPA Vapor Intrusion Science Advisory Committee and the EPA Radon Leadership Committee, which is responsible for developing the National Radon Action Plan (NRAP). Kyle also chairs the standards committee developing ANSI standards for radon measurement and mitigation, serves as president of the American Association of Radon Scientists and Technologists (AARST), and is president of the Kentucky Association of Radon Professional (KARP). Kyle Hoylman co-founded Louisville-based Protect Environmental in 2005, where he currently serves as its CEO.

About Protect Environmental

Protect Environmental is a national leader in the environmental consulting and construction industry, focusing on radon and chemical vapor intrusion management. With a proven track record spanning 18 years and more than 200,000 completed projects in all 50 U.S. states and 2 U.S. territories, the company provides expert service from its trusted professionals to provide peace of mind protection to property owners seeking to build and maintain healthy, safe, and sustainable indoor environments. For more information, call 502-410-5000 or click on protectenvironmental.com

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Press Releases

Protect Environmental Completes Acquisition of Reliant Radon Solutions

Acquisition amplifies Protect Environmental’s national footprint by expanding capacity in metropolitan Denver and throughout Colorado

Louisville, KY, October 11, 2022 – Louisville-based Protect Environmental, a national leader in the environmental consulting and construction industry, with a focus on radon and chemical vapor intrusion management, today announced its acquisition of Reliant Radon Solutions. After acquiring Denver-based ACE Radon earlier this year, the company is continuing to expand its capacity to serve Colorado and the western United States.

Founded in 2003, Reliant Radon Solutions has focused on building trust with residential and commercial customers seeking radon testing, mitigation, and monitoring in Colorado and throughout the western region of the country. Terry Kerwin, owner of Reliant Radon Solutions, says of the acquisition, “Over the years we’ve been committed to our community through providing education and quality services, and I’m honored to join the Protect Environmental family to continue this commitment in the communities we serve.”

Coupled with the acquisition of ACE Radon, the expanded operation is the largest, most experienced soil gas contractor in the state of Colorado. “Reliant Radon Solutions has always been a strong competitor in the market, which is why we are excited to join forces to amplify our ability to serve the Denver area and beyond,” said Jeff Goard, Colorado Managing Partner for Protect Environmental.

As part of the acquisition, Kerwin will transition to a national role within the company, leading its market development team and supporting its national accounts team. “We are excited to welcome Reliant Radon Solutions to Protect Environmental’s growing family, particularly given the alignment with our core values and vision,” said Kyle Hoylman, CEO of Protect Environmental. “I look forward to working with Terry on the national level to assist our clients with building and maintaining healthy, safe, and sustainable indoor environments in the communities where we live, work, and learn.”

About Protect Environmental

Protect Environmental is a national leader in the environmental consulting and construction industry, focusing on radon and chemical vapor intrusion management. With a proven track record spanning 18 years and more than 200,000 completed projects in all 50 U.S. states and 2 U.S. territories, the company provides expert service from its trusted professionals to provide peace of mind protection to property owners seeking to build and maintain healthy, safe, and sustainable indoor environments. For more information, call 502-410-5000 or click on protectenvironmental.com.

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Press Releases

Protect Environmental Completes Acquisition of Elliott & Associates

Acquisition of local industry leader positions company for further expansion in the Chicago market

Louisville, KY, May 20, 2022 – Louisville-based Protect Environmental, a national leader in the environmental consulting and construction industry, with a focus on radon and chemical vapor intrusion management, today announced that it has acquired Chicago-based Elliott & Associates. Combined with the company’s recent acquisition of Radovent, this move solidifies its presence in one of the largest metropolitan markets in the country.

Established in 1986, Elliott & Associates was the first company in Illinois to perform radon measurement and mitigation. Since its founding, the company has installed over 20,000 radon and chemical vapor mitigation systems. Joining Protect Environmental’s national network of trusted professionals provides the company with additional resources to support further growth and development in the Chicagoland market.

“Elliott & Associates has built a 36-year legacy of trust through innovation, integrity, and providing high-quality customer care,” said Elliott Wall, President of Elliott & Associates. “This business is our passion, and we are thrilled to join a like-minded company like Protect Environmental that shares our customer-focused ideals.”

As part of its transition to Protect Environmental, the company’s existing leadership team, including Elliott and Kristine Wall, will continue to lead its day-to-day operations.

Kyle Hoylman, CEO of Protect Environmental, said of the acquisition, “The contribution Elliott & Associates has made in preventing radon-induced lung cancer in the Chicagoland community over its 36-year history is tremendous. I’m excited to welcome Elliott, Kristine, and their team to the Protect Environmental family, as we come together to continue our important mission of saving lives by preventing radon-induced lung cancer.”

About Protect Environmental

Protect Environmental is a national leader in the environmental consulting and construction industry, focusing on radon and chemical vapor intrusion management. With a proven track record spanning 17 years and completed projects in all 50 U.S. states and 2 U.S. territories, the company provides expert service from its trusted professionals to provide peace of mind protection to property owners seeking efficient and effective management of environmental risks and liabilities. For more information, call 502-410-5000 or click on to https://www.protectenvironmental.com. 

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Blog

When are radon levels highest?

If you are asking when radon levels are highest, you likely know enough about radon gas to understand that it is not something you want in your home at any time of year. Conducting a radon test is the first step in understanding your risk of radon exposure. Our advice? If you have never tested your home, go ahead and test, regardless of what time of year. Radon levels are almost always going to be higher in the colder winter months, so we also recommend conducting follow-up testing during the winter season to get a full picture of radon in your home year-round.

Why should you test for radon?

Radon is a known human carcinogen, the leading cause of lung cancer among non-smokers. This naturally occurring, radioactive, gas is created from the breakdown of uranium underground and seeps into buildings from small cracks in the foundation or plumbing. Testing for radon is the only way to know your risk of exposure.

How-Radon-Enters-You-Home

Radioactive radon particles are harmful to your lungs when breathed. Its radioactive properties can damage or mutate lung cells, which can result in cancer. More than 21,000 people die from radon-induced lung cancer every year. Exposure to radon is preventable with proper testing and mitigation in homes and buildings.

When are radon levels the highest?

On average, radon levels are the highest in the colder months, or the heating season. Radon levels are naturally affected by the changing seasons, atmospheric pressure, and precipitation throughout the year. However, temperature fluctuations have the greatest impact on indoor radon levels due to the differences in pressure put on the home.

Why are radon levels higher in the winter?

Weather changes

Changing weather conditions can impact your indoor air quality. Various weather patterns are caused by atmospheric pressure changes. This can impact the air pressure in the soil as well, causing soil gases, including radon, to be pushed up toward the foundation of your home. These kinds of conditions could increase the possibility for radon and other soil gases to enter your home.

Snow barrier

The snow and ice also affect radon entry into buildings. When there is snow or ice surrounding the building, a barrier is created above the soil. Radon gas below the soil is then sealed under the ground below the foundation of the home. Radon, and other soil gases, will follow the path of least resistance. With a blanket of snow and ice surrounding your home, the path of least resistance is often cracks and openings in the foundation.

Thermal stack effect

A fundamental building science element is the thermal stack effect. This effect describes the movement of air inside and outside of the home due to natural laws of pressure. Cold air is more dense than warm air, meaning cold air falls and warm air rises. This law of pressure is always present, regardless of the season.

When a home or building is heated in the winter, warm indoor air naturally rises. Because warm air is less dense than cold air, it rises upward, escaping through the roof, vents, or other openings at the top of your home.

As warm air escapes, cold air is pulled in from below, much like a hot air balloon. The pressure difference creates a vacuum-like effect that sucks in the colder air from outside and from beneath the foundation.

Anything in the air below the foundation, regardless of the safety or quality of it, can be pulled into your home as a part of the process of the structure “breathing”. It is possible that hazardous soil gases are present, compromising your indoor air quality. Dangerous soil gas, including radioactive radon, can be sucked into homes and buildings at a faster rate during the colder months because of the thermal stack effect.

The thermal stack effect explains why radon levels are almost always higher in the winter. Simply put, outdoor air is being pulled into the home quicker and more frequently in the winter than in the summer. For this reason, the potential for being exposed to higher levels of radon in your home is greater in the colder winter months.

When Are Radon Levels Highest
Sealed Homes

When temperatures are more desirable, windows are opened creating more airflow throughout the home or building. Airflow can help dilute the radon gas buildup indoors and can improve your overall indoor air quality. Within tightly sealed buildings, there are few ways for gas particles to escape. Radon gas can then become more concentrated and build up to dangerous levels indoors.

Why test for radon in the winter?

Radon levels can and will fluctuate over time and with the changing seasons. Seasonal variability, stack effect, tightly sealed homes, and snowy barriers help us understand why radon and other soil gas levels are almost always higher in the colder months.

We have seen seasonal test results increase from a range of 1.8 – 2.2 pCi/L in the summer to a range of 28.0 – 32.0 pCi/L in the winter in the same building. The EPA recommends mitigation if the radon level is 4.0 pCi/L or higher. If you have only tested your home in the summer months, you may be unaware that your breathing air contains dangerous levels of radioactive radon in the winter.

The only way to know if your radon levels have fluctuated in the winter is to test. Also, if you have never tested or have not tested in the last five years, you should request a professional radon test as soon as possible.

Want to know the average radon test result near you?

Search your zip code below for the average reported radon test result in your area.

How to reduce your risk of radon exposure all year long

If your radon levels are elevated, installing a mitigation system is the next step. You will want to make sure your mitigation system is installed by a qualified professional who is certified and/or licensed. Unfortunately, mitigation systems can be completely ineffective if installed incorrectly or designed for a lower pressure level in the home.

  1. Test for radon in different seasons or conduct a long-term test to understand how radon levels fluctuate in your home.
  2. If levels are elevated, work with a qualified professional to install a radon mitigation system in your home.
  3. Have your mitigation system serviced annually by a qualified professional to ensure your system continues to function correctly.
  4. If you have a mitigation system, test every two years to ensure that you are continuing to be protected against radon exposure.

"A properly designed and installed mitigation system is essential in preventing exposure to cancer-causing radon gas. Unfortunately, many radon contractors fail to take the seasonal pressure differential variances within the home into consideration when designing the system, leading to the homeowner being unknowingly exposed to unsafe levels of radon during certain times of the year." 

- Kyle Hoylman, CEO of Protect Environmental

Is your radon mitigation system affected during the colder months?

If you had a mitigation system installed in the warmer months, test again during the winter season to make sure your system is continuing to keep you safe with the cold weather changes. If your mitigation system was designed for a lower pressure level during the warmer months, it could be essentially ineffective and elevated radon levels could still be in your home or building.

We recommend testing every two years, even if you have a mitigation system installed, because of these seasonal fluctuations. Consider testing in the colder months or conduct a long-term radon test to get a complete picture of the radon levels in your home year-round.

Key Takeaways:

  • Radon levels can and will be affected by seasonal variability.
  • Indoor radon levels are normally at the highest in the winter or colder months because of the thermal stack effect, a snowy barrier, and tightly sealed homes.
  • Cold temperatures increase the pressure within the home, meaning more air is being pulled in from the ground, which elevates the risk of radon entering the home.
  • Test your home and other buildings in the colder months to get a complete picture of radon exposure.
  • Test your home every two years to ensure your radon mitigation system continues to protect your home from radon in higher pressure conditions caused by colder temperatures.
Categories
Blog Video

Lung Cancer Awareness – Prevention, Treatment, and Survivorship

For Lung Cancer Awareness Month, our goal is to raise awareness of the leading cause of cancer deaths in the world. Understanding prevention, treatment, and survivorship are all vital to fighting the effects of lung cancer in our communities. With one voice, we can work together to raise awareness that anyone with lungs can get lung cancer.

Risk Reduction and Early Detection

The fight against lung cancer in Kentucky begins with reducing or eliminating risk factors that have the possibility to lead to a lung cancer diagnosis. In our interview with Jennifer Knight, Partnership and Sustainability Specialist at the Kentucky Cancer Consortium, we learn about the importance of lung cancer risk reduction as it can be the difference between life or death.

  • Kentucky is now second in number of lung cancer screening in the U.S. As of 2021, the state has seen an increase in lung cancer early detection.
  • Screening is important to decrease late-stage lung cancer diagnoses and increase survival rates.
  • The lung cancer stigma prevents many people from having effective conversations with health care providers and receiving the necessary screenings.
  • Shared decision-making conversations with a physician help foster necessary discussions about the risk factors of lung cancer, including radon gas and secondhand smoke.
  • Policy work surrounding lung cancer is increasing to improve lung cancer survival statistics, but there is more work to be done.
  • There is continuing research on who is eligible for lung cancer screenings.

During a shared decision-making conversation with the physician is a perfect time to talk about radon and having your home tested. And the same goes for dangers of secondhand smoke… because when you combined smoking, radon gas, and secondhand smoke, the risk for lung cancer goes up astronomically.

Jennifer Knight, Partnership and Sustainability Specialist at the Kentucky Cancer Consortium

Lung Cancer Treatment

For those who are diagnosed, lung cancer research and treatment has come a long way. Ongoing research efforts will continue to improve treatment options and increase survival statistics. In talking with Dr. Tim Mullett, Specialist and Professor of Thoracic Surgery at the UK Markey Cancer Center, greater education and awareness are needed to prevent lung cancer and to detect the disease sooner. Those diagnosed in an earlier stage have more treatment options compared to those diagnosed at a later stage. Depending on your exposure risk, talk to your doctor about whether you qualify for lung cancer screening.

  • Lung cancer can easily go undetected and can show very few symptoms in the early stages.
  • There are a growing number of women diagnosed with lung cancer who have never smoked.
  • Treatment plans for lung cancer have expanded greatly over the past 10 years, with targeted therapy treatment and surgery.
  • Doctors should continue to look at the causes of lung cancer beyond smoking and continue conversations about other possible risk factors.
  • Targeted therapy is transforming how we view cancer mutations and the different causes of lung cancer, including radon gas.
  • As lung cancer research continues, there is an increase in better treatment for future lung cancer patients.

It’s important as health care professionals to all work to break down that stigma, that it’s only tobacco, and get to where lung cancer is a discussion about risk and benefit. And today, because of our use of lung cancer screening and the increasing impact of targeted therapy, we need to talk about the hope of the future.

Dr. Tim Mullett, Specialist and Professor of Thoracic Surgery at the UK Cancer Center

Lung Cancer Survivorship

A lung cancer diagnosis is devastating, regardless of what led to the diagnosis, smoking history or not. Smoking is not the only cause of lung cancer. No one living with lung cancer should have to battle alone. Lindi Campbell, Lung Cancer Survivor and Founder of Breath of Hope KY, is a lung cancer survivor using her voice to advocate for better lung cancer survival rates in Kentucky through research and education. Lindi has created a community network through Facebook to connect other survivors across Kentucky who can connect and encourage one another in the fight against this disease. Learn more about Lindi’s lung cancer survivor story. 

  • There is a need to raise awareness that anyone with lungs can get lung cancer.
  • Many people still believe if you have lung cancer you deserve the diagnosis, which prevents survivors from reaching out.
  • There is a growing number of survivors being diagnosed even though they have never smoked. Radon being the leading cause in nonsmokers.
  • The mental and emotional strain of lung cancer plays a large role in a lung cancer patient’s journey and survival.
  • When diagnosed with lung cancer, it is important to have a community of support.
  • Sharing the stories of lung cancer survivors helps raise awareness of the disease and end the lung cancer stigma. 

It’s as much a psychological effect as it is a physical effect. And the first thing anybody wants to do when they are diagnosed is to ask somebody else…there are things that we [survivors] can answer that the public, and even our closest family members, can’t be for us.

Lindi Campbell, Lung Cancer Survivor and Founder of Breath of Hope Kentucky Tweet

Help Raise Awareness and Fight the Lung Cancer Stigma

  1. Help educate others that anyone with lungs can get lung cancer, not just those who smoke.
  2. Understand the risk factors that can cause lung cancer and take action to eliminate those risks in your life and the lives of your friends and family.
  3. If you feel led, financially support lung cancer initiatives to help improve treatment options and survivorship for those living with lung cancer, such as Breath of Hope Kentucky, American Lung Association, BREATHE, CanSAR, or the Kentucky LEADS Collaborative.
  4. Help us advocate! Follow advocacy organizations on social media and share facts and information to help us raise awareness and educate others about how they can reduce risks in their own lives.
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Blog

What are the Leading Risk Factors for Lung Cancer?

Anyone with lungs can get lung cancer. For this reason, everyone should be aware of the potential dangers to their lung health. When most people hear of someone being diagnosed with lung cancer, they assume it was caused by a history of smoking. However, there are other causes that can affect our lung cells besides smoking and tobacco use. Knowing the leading risk factors for lung cancer will help you protect your lungs and participate with us in erasing the lung cancer stigma.

What is Lung Cancer?

Lung cancer is now the leading cause of cancer deaths amongst men and women in the world.  Also, it is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer. Every year, more than 235,000 new cases of lung cancer are diagnosed in the U.S., along with nearly 132,000 deaths.

Leading Risk Factors for Lung Cancer - Lungs
Lung cancer is a disease in which abnormal lung cells continuously divide, destroying healthy tissue along the way. This abnormal cell division is also called a malignant tumor. Lung cancer can then metastasize, spreading to other parts of the body. Abnormal cell growth is often caused by harmful or radioactive substances that damage the lung when breathed, tobacco smoke being only one possible cause for lung cell damage. In fact, only 14 percent of the U.S. population smokes.

Though the percentage of people who are smoking is decreasing, lung cancer incidents and deaths are increasing because other causes of lung cancer are still impacting the population.

Oftentimes, lung cancer is not diagnosed until it has developed to a later stage due to a lack of awareness and early detection. A late-stage diagnosis often comes with a low chance of survival. Lung cancer can be hard to diagnose in the early stages with few initial symptoms and the lack of knowledge and awareness of the disease. 

Many people believe that if they do not smoke or use tobacco that they could never develop lung cancer. The early signs of the disease are hard to detect as is. When it is thought of as never being a possibility, the chances of being diagnosed in a later stage significantly increases. Therefore, being informed of the potential risk factors and causes of lung cancer could be the difference between life and death. Anyone with lungs can get lung cancer.

Risk Factors of Lung Cancer

Leading Risk Factors for Lung Cancer
Lung Cancer - Smoking
Smoking

Tobacco smoking is the leading cause of lung cancer. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, those who smoke are approximately 30 times more likely to get lung cancer than those who don’t. Also, cigarette smoking remains the leading cause of preventable disease and death in the United States. Studies also show that the more cigarettes smoked per day and the more years a person has smoked greatly increases the likelihood of developing lung cancer.

Lung Cancer - Secondhand Smoke
Secondhand Smoke

Secondhand smoke occurs when tobacco smoke fills an environment and is inhaled involuntarily. Since the 1964 Surgeon General’s Report, 2.5 million nonsmokers died just by breathing secondhand smoke, according to the CDC. Secondhand smoke contains thousands of toxic chemicals that damage the lungs.

Hazardous Chemicals
Hazardous Chemicals

Exposure to certain hazardous chemicals and substances can cause damage to the lungs, which could result in lung cancer. Asbestos, uranium, arsenic, cadmium, chromium, nickel, and some petroleum products can be particularly dangerous to your lungs (learn more at the American Lung Association). The CDC states that some of these substances are far more dangerous than smoking tobacco. Certain jobs may be required to work with such chemicals; however, these chemicals could also be found in soil or older buildings due to a chemical spill. This type of contamination is often referred to as chemical vapor intrusion. Learn more about keeping your indoor air quality safe. 

Family Genetics - Lung Cancer
Family History

If your family members have been diagnosed with lung cancer, you may be more likely to develop the disease, as well. This could be based on living in or being exposed to the same environment and breathing the same level of air quality. If an environmental factor caused their diagnosis, there is a chance you could be at risk, too. Lung cancer could be contributed to members of a household being exposed to radon, cigarette smoke, and other hazardous elements that can cause lung cancer. Also, family history may play a role in the susceptibility of cell mutation

Lung Cancer - Radon
Radon Gas

Many individuals have never heard of radon – a colorless, odorless, tasteless, radioactive, naturally occurring gas. Yet, the EPA states radon is the leading cause of lung cancer among nonsmokers. Over 21,000 people die from radon-induced lung cancer every year in the United States alone. Also, smokers exposed to elevated radon levels have a much higher risk of developing lung cancer. Learn more about the symptoms of radon gas poisoning on our blog. 

How does radon harm your lungs? Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas that is released from the breakdown of uranium in the ground. This gas can seep into your home, your office building, your schools, or any building for that matter through cracks and openings in the foundation. Once radon is present, it can then damage your lungs when breathed. The higher the level of radon in an indoor environment, the higher chances of damage to your lungs.

The EPA recommends installing a professional radon mitigation system if the radon level is 4.0 pCi/L or above. However, there is no safe level of radon. The first step in preventing your exposure to radon gas is to test.

Test your home in the Louisville or Lexington area or contact a certified radon specialist in your area. 

How do you reduce your lung cancer risk?

Protecting your lungs from the risk factors above is the best way to reduce your risk and prevent the developing lung cancer. Take these steps to keep your lungs healthy and safe:

  • Do not smoke.
    • You can decrease your risk of developing lung cancer by not smoking. 
    • Counseling, nicotine replacement products, or antidepressants can help a person quit smoking. 
  • Test your home and office for radon gas.
    • Radon-induced lung cancer is preventable through radon testing and mitigation.
    • Radon gas is odorless, colorless, and tasteless, so the only way to know if radioactive radon is in your home is to test.
    • You can schedule a professional radon test with a licensed and certified local radon professional to determine your radon exposure risk at home.
  • Avoid other indoor air pollutants
    • If you are in an environment or live with someone who smokes, talk to them about quitting smoking and the risks of developing lung cancer. 
    • If you are a smoker, do not smoke indoors or in cars to protect others around you.
    • If your job requires you to be around toxic chemicals, dust, or fumes take the necessary precautions and talk to your employer.
  • Live a healthy lifestyle
    • Keep your lungs and body healthy by exercising.
    • Those who eat fruits and vegetables have a lower risk of developing lung cancer.
    • A healthy lifestyle generally lowers your risk for developing cancer overall.
  • Get tested with a low-dose computed tomography (LDCT) scan
    • If you are 50 years or older and have a history of smoking, you should get screened with a low dose CT scan. 
    • If you have a job that puts you at elevated risk for lung cancer, an LDCT scan is also recommended for you. 
    • If you have been exposed to elevated levels of radon, talk to your doctor about getting a scan.

Lung Cancer Treatment

If you are currently or have been exposed to any of the risk factors for lung cancer, talk to your doctor. Take steps and preventative measures to reduce your risk and protect your lungs. Also, discuss the signs and symptoms of lung cancer with your primary care doctor if you think you are experiencing these symptoms.

Furthermore, there is no guarantee of life-long healthy lungs. It is important to talk to your doctor and advocate for your lung health. Early detection and prevention gives lung cancer patients the best chance at fighting the disease.

Key Points:

  • Lung cancer is the leading cancer killer in both men and women in the U.S.
  • Smoking may pose the greatest risk, but it is not the only cause of lung cancer. There are other causes, such as exposure to radon and other hazardous air pollutants.
  • Screening at-risk individuals has the potential to dramatically improve lung cancer survival rates.
  • To reduce your risk of lung cancer, be aware of risk factors and take preventative measures. 
  • Test your homes and buildings for radon gas as one way to help prevent lung cancer.
Categories
Podcasts

The Effect of Vapor Intrusion on Regulatory Guidance and Technology

Episode 3: The Effect of Vapor Intrusion on Regulatory Guidance and Technology

With David Gillay and Chris Bonniwell
Episode 3: The Effect of Vapor Intrusion on Regulatory Guidance and Technology ​ by Protect Environmental
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  • Episode 3: The Effect of Vapor Intrusion on Regulatory Guidance and Technology ​

Show Notes:

In the third episode of The Green Scene Podcast, Kyle Hoylman interviews David Gillay and Chris Bonniwell on the ever-changing vapor intrusion industry and how it has affected regulatory guidance and long-term stewardship obligations. They also discuss the evolving science of remote telemetric technology – changing best practices for monitoring and maintaining vapor intrusion around the world.

Guest Bios:

David Gillay - Partner in the Environmental Department of Barnes & Thornburg

David Gillay is a partner in the Environmental Department of Barnes & Thornburg. Before joining the department in 2001, he obtained an advanced environmental engineering degree and practiced as an environmental consultant on various projects across the country.

Presently, David has a legal practice that concentrates on many environmental subjects, such as brownfields projects – remediation projects dealing with soil, surface water and groundwater contamination, environmental due diligence – assessing and managing the vapor intrusion pathway in real estate transactions and redevelopment property. His area of expertise also involves cost-recovery claims against owners and operators for contamination, including evaluating other mechanisms to fund investigatory and cleanup activities.

Chris Bonniwell, PhD – President of Vapor Products Group

Chris Bonniwell is a nationally recognized provider of radon and chemical vapor intrusion mitigation solutions and has over 13 years of professional environmental experience as a state regulator and environmental consultant.

Currently, Chris leads the development, production, and assessment of products advancing the radon and chemical vapor intrusion industry, along with the recently patented Vapor Sentinel Remote Monitoring System and Vapor Sentinel New Construction technology.

Vapor Intrusion and Regulatory Guidance

Vapor Intrusion was not heavily investigated until about 15 to 20 years ago, however, vapor intrusion is now the exposure pathway with the greatest concern with environmental contamination. In the past two decades, the science, regulation and technology of vapor intrusion has continued to develop and expand.

With regulation change, there is better technological development to manage this long-term lability and risks. New telemetric technology now gives clients certainty that vapor intrusion is being properly mitigated through continuous monitoring.

The practices and technology for new construction projects continue to evolve, as well, with sub-slab solutions. There is a growing trend to implement these vapor safe techniques into every building whether vapor intrusion is present or for future protection.

“I think there is a growing trend, especially in the regulatory environment, to better understand how vapor intrusion is migrating and moving below the subsurface.”
Chris Bonniwell
President of Vapor Products Group

Key Take-Aways:

  • The dangers of vapor intrusion
  • How has the vapor intrusion industry changed over the past 15 years?
  • The requirements for long-term liability obligations
  • The guidance for vapor intrusion within government reuse and transactional due diligence
  • The benefits of continuing obligation plans
  • The future for vapor intrusion regulatory guidance
  • New technology that impacts long term liability and risks
  • The current process for monitoring and maintaining VI
  • Defining telemetric monitoring as a VI solution
  • The future of VI monitoring
  • The new practices and technology for vapor intrusion in new construction
  • The benefits of sub slab solutions
  • From a legal standpoint, the best protection for new construction projects
  • How vapor intrusion is transforming science, regulatory guidance, and technology for the better

Links:

Listen to The Green Scene Podcast on any streaming platform.

Categories
Podcasts

What Solar Energy’s Bright Future Holds for Green Building Science

Episode 2: What Solar Energy's Bright Future Holds for Green Building Science

With solar expert and Co-owner of Solar by Ecos, Chris Zitelli
Episode 2: What Solar Energy's Bright Future Holds for Green Building Science with Chris Zitelli by Protect Environmental
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  • Episode 2: What Solar Energy's Bright Future Holds for Green Building Science with Chris Zitelli

Show Notes:

In the second episode of The Green Scene Podcast Kyle Hoylman interviews Chris Zitelli about the many advantages of solar energy, the future of solar technology, and how solar energy is being used all around us – changing the way we use energy, all around the world, for the better.

Chris is the co-owner and founder of Solar by Ecos.  He is a LEED Accredited Professional, HERS and LEED-Certified Rater, and a Green Advantage Certified Professional. As a certified solar energy professional, his goal is to see the use of this renewable resource expand across Kentucky and the greater United States. Chris brings a more holistic approach to green building science – a great asset to the solar industry as a whole.

How Solar Energy Works:

Solar energy is a renewable resource. Renewable resources are defined as natural resources that will replenish to replace the portion that was depleted by usage and consumption. Solar energy utilizes light and heat from the sun to supply a continuous source of clean energy. Because of the little environmental impact and accessibility, solar energy is one of the top growing energy resources in the world.

One of the main ways the sun’s energy is collected and distributed into usable electricity is through solar panels or photovoltaics (sensors that convert light to electricity). The sunlight excites the photon cells or PV cells in the panel creating an electrical charge. Then the electrical current is harnessed into electricity that flows through wires connected to the solar panel. Electricity is gathered almost instantaneously. Excess energy can be stored onto the solar grid or battery for later independent use.

Looking to the Future of Solar Energy

Furthermore,  technology within the solar industry continues to advance and now provides energy on a larger scale. The cost-effectiveness of solar energy continues to improve, as well, with ever evolving processes and increasing popularity. The solar industry is a growing market that is now outpacing any other form of energy . Currently, a utility-scale solar installation is more cost-effective and efficient than building a more traditional coal-fired power plant. The ROI of solar is now closer to those of traditional energy costs.

In addition, solar energy has little negative impact on the environment, with no creation of emissions, or waste. More communities across the world are continuing to embrace solar energy as a primary source of energy. While renewable energy sources and climate change are considered a political hot-button topic here in the United States, political support continues to grow with the industry’s economic growth.

“Solar energy is out pacing any other form of energy… and I do think if we want to turn back some of the consequences, we are going to need to do something pretty dramatic or it is going to be a problem.”
Chris Zitelli
Co-owner, Ecos Materials and Services

Key Take-aways:

  • How solar energy works
  • The difference between the solar grid and solar battery
  • The continued evolution of solar energy technology
  • Why Texas blamed solar energy for the statewide power outage in Spring of 2021
  • Common misconceptions about solar energy
  • The solar industry advancements and economic stride
  • ROI of solar energy for residential and commercial customers
  • Solar energy’s effect on air quality and the environment
  • The future of the solar industry
  • Current and future government policy that helps expand the use of solar energy in the United States

Links:

Listen to The Green Scene Podcast of our streaming platforms.

Contact Chris Zitelli for any questions regarding solar energy or Solar by Ecos: Chris@solarbyecos.com

Solar Energy Podcast
Categories
Blog

Who Pays for Radon Mitigation – Buyer or Seller?

Buying or selling a home can often be a lengthy process with many hurdles, including the inspection. When radon comes into play, it can be hard to know what to do.  In this post, we try to answer at least one of your questions – who pays for radon mitigation – home buyers or home sellers?

The shortest answer: there are options! Usually, the cost of mitigation falls on the home seller. However, there are a few ways that this can play out. Stay with us, we’ll unpack those options a little further down the page.

Whichever side of the real estate transaction you are on, your hopes are high for everything to go smoothly through the final closing. Maybe you are buying a home and have finally put in an offer on the one you have been dreaming about. Alternatively, maybe you are selling your home and are eager to start seeing those offers come in.

The inspection report can come back with costly fixes and unexpected expenses. One critical measurement that should be taken during the home inspection process is testing for radon.

Chances are if you have ever heard of radon, it is because it came up during the process of buying or selling your home. If you have never heard of radon before, you are not alone. Most people do not know what it is or why it is harmful.

First of all, is radon actually something to be concerned about?

Radon is not something you want in your home, particularly at elevated levels. It is naturally occurring, meaning it is impossible to get rid of completely, however, the lower your radon levels are, the better.
Why? Radon is a radioactive cancer-causing gas and can be found at elevated levels in any home, old or new. It can easily go undetected because you can’t see, smell, or taste it. Also, radon is naturally occurring and comes from the breakdown of uranium in the ground.
Furthermore, the gas can then seep into your home through cracks in the foundation or pipes. If radon is breathed in, it can cause damage to your lungs, resulting in lung cancer. 
How-Radon-Enters-You-Home

Additionally, radon is responsible for the deaths of more than 21,000 Americans every year. It is also the leading cause of lung cancer among non-smokers, second overall only to smoking. It is important to be aware of the radon risk during a real estate transaction. Learn more about radon and the symptoms of radon gas poisoning.

Radon in a typical real estate transaction:

  1. Home buyer submits an offer.
  2. Home seller accepts the offer. *
  3. Home buyer orders a home inspection.
  4. The contract is contingent upon inspection.
  5. A radon test should be conducted during the inspection period at the request of the buyer.
  6. Radon test results are provided.
  7. The EPA recommends mitigation at 4.0 pCi/L or more.
  8. Depending on the radon test results, the home buyer may request for the home seller to provide a mitigation system.
* In some states, the seller is required to disclose if they have tested for radon, the results of any testing that has been conducted, and if a mitigation system is installed on the home.

The risks of buying or selling a home with high radon levels

When Buying:

  • The combination of high radon levels and no mitigation system puts you and your family at risk of radon exposure.
  • A mitigation system presents an unwanted (but necessary) additional expense to be considered when purchasing the home (average cost of $1,200 to $2,500, depending on the home).
  • If a mitigation system is installed or was previously installed, ensuring the system continues operating correctly long-term to keep your radon levels in check.

When Selling:

  • Not accommodating a radon mitigation system can risk the sale contract falling through.
  • A mitigation system presents an unwanted additional expense (average cost of $1,200 to $2,500, depending on the home).
  • Liability of installing the cheapest system before closing may not protect the buyers long-term if a faulty system is installed.

Should you buy a home with radon?

When buying a home with high radon levels, you may have concerns that you shouldn’t continue with the closing process. Don’t fear, a properly installed radon mitigation system is an effective solution for keeping your family safe from radon exposure.

Radon is dangerous when it builds up and is trapped inside the home. The solution is to install a radon mitigation system. A mitigation system consists of an active fan and vent pipe system that vacuums toxic air from below your home and discharges it out to above your roofline, out of harm’s way.

Also, if the home you are buying already has a mitigation system installed, it is a good idea to conduct a radon test and system maintenance inspection to ensure that the system is still working to keep the radon levels down in the home.

If the home you are buying does not have a radon mitigation system installed, and the radon test comes back elevated (the EPA recommends mitigation at 4.0 pCi/L or more), you will want to have a system installed to reduce your risk of exposure.

The sellers of the home may have already tested for radon in the past. Depending on the state you live in, the home sellers could be legally obligated to disclose the radon levels of the home. However, radon levels can fluctuate due to weather, seasonal changes, or home renovations, so it is still advised to perform another radon test during your home inspection. In fact, homes with a radon mitigation system should be tested every two years to confirm radon concentrations remain below the action level.

For real estate transactions, the radon test is conducted during the inspection period. Most home inspectors offer a professional radon test as an additional service. The radon test expense is most often covered by the home buyer along with the inspection.

In need of a radon test?

Our team is certified and licensed to provide professional radon testing, as well, if your home inspector does not provide this service or if you’re looking for a second opinion, our trusted professionals are here to help!

Who pays for the radon mitigation system, home buyer or seller?

A mitigation system is probably an expense you were not expecting to pay with the purchase of your new home. However, radon mitigation systems can be treated like any repair in a real estate transaction. Additionally, installing a radon mitigation system (if the radon test results come back elevated) is a critical fix for the health of individuals who will be living in the home.

The options for payment and installation of a radon mitigation system during a real estate transaction:

1. Buyer pays for the mitigation system after the real estate transaction is completed.

Buyer's Benefit Seller's benefit Buyer's Risk Seller's risk
Buyer's Benefit Has full control over who installs the system and the quality of system they would be getting
Seller's benefit No additional cost or liability
Buyer's Risk You take on full financial responsibility for the system installation and annual maintenance
Seller's risk If the buyer does not want to go this route, you could risk your closing transaction falling through

2. Seller chooses a company and pays for mitigation system installation.

Buyer's Benefit Seller's benefit Buyer's Risk Seller's risk
Buyer's Benefit Seller pays for the system in full and the system is installed before closing
Seller's benefit You have control over how much you want to spend on the system and you keep the buyer engaged in the sale
Buyer's Risk No control over which company installs the mitigation system or the quality of the system you would be getting
Seller's risk Choosing a mitigation contractor solely on a lowest cost basis could mean you’re getting an ineffective system installed, putting the buyers at risk of exposure. You could be liable for the system you chose to have put in.

3. Buyer chooses a company and seller pays for the mitigation system installation.

Buyer's Benefit Seller's benefit Buyer's Risk Seller's risk
Buyer's Benefit Seller pays for the system in full, before your closing date, and works with a company you trust to install the mitigation system
Seller's benefit Less liability as you are working with the company of the buyer’s choice
Buyer's Risk The seller could decline this request and you could risk the contract falling through or having to pay for the system yourself after closing
Seller's risk You would take on full financial obligation to install the system and the cost would be up to the buyer

4. Seller provides an allowance or credit for the mitigation system installation.

Buyer's Benefit Seller's benefit Buyer's Risk Seller's risk
Buyer's Benefit You are able to choose to work with the best licensed and certified team for your system installation and have a majority of the cost, if not all, covered by the home seller.
Seller's benefit Your cost is capped at whatever amount you choose to provide and the transaction can keep moving forward, as the buyer would have the mitigation system installed after closing
Buyer's Risk If the installation costs more than the amount provided by the seller, you would need to cover the difference
Seller's risk An additional closing cost

Importantly, the seller is not legally obligated to pay for the radon mitigation system. However, a buyer can certainly request the seller cover the cost of any home repair, including a radon mitigation system. While the buyer or the seller could pay for the mitigation system, we suggest a seller allowance or credit. In fact, approximately 83% of home sellers do provide credit for a variety of repairs after seeing the inspection report.

Poorly installed mitigation systems:

This mitigation vent discharges radon directly at face level. The vent is also next to a window and blowing toward a child’s play area – standards state the point of discharge is required to vent a minimum of 12-inches above the eve of the building so radon can dilute safely in outdoor air.

Who pays for radon mitigation

The unintended consequence of installing a radon fan in the basement is potentially exposing the occupants of the home to high levels of radioactive radon. The radon fan must be installed outside of the conditioned building envelope to prevent the potential for re-entrainment.

Here we see the discharge point of a mitigation system facing downward. To meet the minimum requirements, the point of discharge needs to extend above the eve of the building to prevent potential re-entrainment.

This mitigation vent discharges radon directly below a window, possibly directing the radon back into the home. Also, the electrical is being run through an extension cord, which should not be used on any mitigation system.

How do allowances work in a real estate transaction?

It is very common for a buyer and seller to negotiate an allowance for home repairs based on the inspection report. Before the time of closing, the amount of the allowance is negotiated between the buyer and seller through the real estate agent. Then, an addendum is written saying the buyer and seller agree the seller will pay a particular dollar amount toward the buyer’s closing costs. It has nothing to do with the cost of the house or your mortgage, just the closing costs. Then, the amount is given at the time of closing in the form of a check or money order.

Our Advice:

When considering who should pay for the radon mitigation system in your real estate transaction, our advice is for the buyer and seller to negotiate a fair allowance be made for the mitigation system. In sum, we have seen time and time again how this type of allowance protects the interests of all parties and keeps the transactions moving forward toward closing.

To the Seller:

Unfortunately, even though there are standards for how mitigation systems should be installed, there are companies out there that do not install good, reliable, mitigation systems. If you are looking for the lowest cost system, you may just be getting what you pay for.

As a result, choosing to work with mitigation contractors who are not licensed and certified could come back as a liability for the seller. Protecting the occupants of a home from radioactive radon gas is a large responsibility. Our advice is to avoid the liability of choosing someone else’s radon mitigation system and provide an allowance at closing instead.

Meanwhile, installing a mitigation system before closing also comes with the hassle of retrieving quotes from multiple radon contractors, researching their qualifications, and comparing the best options. Not to mention coordinating the installation process is a task itself. This can be tedious and can cause delays in the closing transaction.

In conclusion, if you, the seller, provide an allowance for the mitigation, you rid yourself of the responsibility of installing an effective system on behalf of the buyer. Avoid the liability, cap your cost at the average amount, and keep your closing date by providing an allowance for the radon mitigation system.

To the Buyer:

First, the safety of you and your family against radon exposure should be the top priority. It is human nature for the home seller to want to save money on closing costs. By asking for an allowance, you keep yourself in control of deciding who installs the radon mitigation system in your future home.

When you receive your allowance, or credit, at closing, be sure to find a radon contractor that specializes in radon, is certified to install the system, and works with licensed electricians. This is important for ensuring your family is being protected.

Faulty systems can, not only not reduce the radon levels in the home, they can also increase the levels in some scenarios. Building science is highly complex and pressurized systems should be installed by the experts.

In the process of buying your home, if a radon test result comes back at a level that you are unsatisfied with (again, the EPA recommends mitigation at 4.0 pCi/L or higher), request an allowance for a negotiated amount to be provided by the seller at closing. This way, you and your family can choose the right company to install your system.

To the Real Estate Agents:

If you’ve made it this far into the post, we know you are dedicated to making your clients happy throughout the entire process of the real estate transaction. Also, we know you’re looking forward to closing day, too, because the closing day is payday!

When it comes to radon in the real estate transaction, our advice is to encourage your home buyers to ask for an allowance for mitigation and to encourage your home sellers to provide or offer one in the case that a mitigation system is requested.

Subsequently, this solution highly benefits both home sellers and home buyers alike and keeps the transaction moving forward and on schedule.

Seller Allowance Radon Mitigation

Our trusted professionals are here for your peace of mind.

Regardless of what party you represent in a real estate transaction, we are here for your radon testing and/or mitigation needs. Providing expert service from trusted professionals for our clients’ peace of mind protection is what we are in business to do.

Give us a call or request a quote to get started on your residential radon testing or mitigation project today.

Categories
Blog Video

Erase the Lung Cancer Stigma

Protect Environmental partnered with Breath of Hope KY to participate in the WHO Health for All Film Festival, submitting our project to the “Better Health and Well-Being” category. Our project focuses on the story of radon and the lung cancer stigma. By raising awareness that anyone with lungs can get lung cancer and encouraging people to test for radon, we believe we are advocating for better health and well-being for all. We are excited to have been a part of this annual World Health Organization event alongside over 1200 other film submissions from 110 countries. 

Radon doesn’t discriminate.

Radon – a naturally occurring radioactive gas. Many people are not aware that they have been exposed to radon because it is not something you can see, taste, or smell. Without these warning signs, radon often goes undetected. The US Environmental Protection Agency reports that more than 21,000 Americans die each year from radon induced lung cancer.

As the leading cause of lung cancer among non-smokers, radon should be tested for, and mitigated if needed, in order to prevent exposure. Unfortunately, not many people know that radon exists or that it is a serious environmental health concern.

Anyone with lungs can get lung cancer.

What is the lung cancer stigma? It is the generalization and assumption that someone who is diagnosed with lung cancer must have smoked or done something to have caused their diagnosis. The reality is that anyone with lungs can develop lung cancer, not just those who smoke. In fact, there are many different causes, radon being the second cause overall and the number one cause among non-smokers.

Erasing the lung cancer stigma will take greater awareness and education. The Better Health and Well-Being category made the most sense for our project as our goal is to raise awareness and, ultimately, reduce the number of radon-induced lung cancer incidents and deaths starting here in Kentucky and beyond.

Radon is a critical environmental health risk that demands continued recognition and improved understanding to protect people everywhere from exposure. With our film contribution, we want to educate the public and encourage action against radon gas in the places we live, work, and learn.

We worked with Lindi Campbell, Leah Phillips, and Chasity Harney of Breath of Hope Kentucky, who shared their stories in this project. All three women are lung cancer survivors and believe that radon exposure was the likely cause of their diagnoses. These women lived a healthy lifestyle, never smoked, and certainly never thought they would be diagnosed with this life-threatening disease. 

Take Action

Our message is simple. Anyone with lungs can get lung cancer and radon could be the cause. Unfortunately, lung cancer has been defined as a smoker’s disease. Consequently, this stigma perpetuates a lack of awareness and often prevents early detection among non-smokers. 

Naturally occurring radon gas can be found anywhere around the world. It is a worldwide environmental hazard that causes over 21,000 deaths here in the U.S. alone. Exposure to radon is preventable. Testing is the only way to know if elevated levels of radon are in the places you live, work, or learn. 

Take action against radon! Test your home.

Categories
Blog

10 Working From Home Tips for Creating Healthy Indoor Air Quality

With more people than ever working from home during the Coronavirus pandemic, it’s important to talk about the quality of the air you’re breathing.

There are many benefits to working remotely, from lower operational costs of running a business to employees having more time to themselves since cutting out their commutes. The initial move to remote work out of necessity to keep people safe has now become a new normal way of life for many.

At the beginning of 2021, it is reported that 42% of the U.S. is now working from home after a year of shutdowns due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Almost twice as many employees are working remotely at the start of 2021 compared to the beginning of 2020. Additionally, many businesses are making this change permanently. 

“The trend toward working from home has been slowly increasing over the past decade. But those numbers have shifted dramatically in 2020 due to the widespread changes caused by COVID-19,” said Dr. Goodarzi, Canada Research Chair for Radiation Exposure Disease. “We are currently analyzing the impact of this sudden change.”

Just like anything, there are pros and cons of working remotely. By first being aware of the risks, we can do our best to create healthy air quality where we live and work. You can take simple, preventative, actions to make sure your home office environment is healthy and safe.

7 Common Indoor Air Pollutants that can have Significant Health Risks:

  1. Mold
  2. Pollen and Allergens
  3. Low Ventilation Rates and Carbon Dioxide Concentrations
  4. Carbon Monoxide
  5. Asbestos and Lead-based Paint
  6. Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC’s)
  7. Radon Gas Exposure

These hazardous pollutants and gases can be prevented or mitigated. With the correct tools, tips, and preventive measures you can create safe breathing air in your own home. The American Lung Association has shared some additional tips to know if your air is unhealthy. Establishing healthy indoor air quality at home is important to your overall health, especially for those of us working remotely.

10 tips to improve indoor air quality for a healthier home office environment:

  1. Thoroughly vacuum and clean your home once a week.
  2. Never smoke indoors. 
  3. Replace your furnace and air filter every 6 to 12 months.
  4. Use an air purifier.
  5. Invest in house plants for your workspace.
  6. Keep humidity levels under 50 percent to avoid mold growth.
  7. Open your windows when the weather is nice to create ventilation.
  8. Test for asbestos.
  9. Invest in a Carbon Monoxide detector.
  10. Test your home for radon gas.

When it comes to your health and safety when working from home, testing for radon is especially important. Radon is a naturally occurring, radioactive gas that can be found at dangerous levels in your home. You would not know if your home has radon or not because it is odorless, colorless, and tasteless.

Consequently, that invisible radioactive gas may be accumulating at elevated levels in your home. This same gas is responsible for the deaths of more than 21,000 Americans every year. Also, it is the leading cause of lung cancer among non-smokers.

This gas is naturally occurring, originating from the breakdown of uranium in the ground, and enters your home through cracks in the foundation or pipes. Radon damages your lungs when breathed and over time can mutate lung cells, resulting in lung cancer.  

The radon risk of working from home

Dr. Goodarzi and other radon researchers are predicting a 35% jump in residential radon exposure from March 2020 onwards.

Due to the current pandemic, people are spending much more time at home than in the past. Before the concern of the pandemic, most people were spending their days in the office or coming and going on the weekends.

If your home has elevated levels of radon, you are being exposed more often than you would if you were spending less time at home. It is as important as ever to test your home for radon to make sure your breathing air is healthy and safe.

If your radon test results come back elevated, install a radon mitigation system. The EPA recommends mitigating your home if the radon levels come back at 4.0pCi/L or above.  Learn more about radon and the symptoms of radon gas poisoning here.

Any type of home can have elevated radon levels, regardless of if you have a basement or not – walk-out basements, crawl spaces – any home or building can have radon. Levels can vary between homes in the same neighborhood, even homes right next to one another. Elevated radon levels have been detected in all 50 states. 

It is never too late to take action. As you continue to work from home, make sure to take care of your mental and physical health by improving your air quality. The damaging effects of exposure to radioactive radon are completely preventable.

During this new season, one of the simplest ways to make sure you are staying healthy and safe while working from home is to test your home for radon.  

Let’s get started – if you live in the Louisville or Lexington area of Kentucky, contact us to schedule your radon test today!

Categories
Podcasts

How to Support Lung Cancer Awareness & Amplify the Radon Message

Episode 1: How to Support Lung Cancer Awareness and Amplify the Radon Message

With lung cancer survivor and Founder of Breath of Hope Kentucky, Lindi Campbell
Episode 1: How to Support Lung Cancer Awareness & Amplify the Radon Message with Lindi Campbell by Protect Environmental
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  • Episode 1: How to Support Lung Cancer Awareness & Amplify the Radon Message with Lindi Campbell

Show Notes:

In the first episode of The Green Scene Podcast, Kyle Hoylman and Lindi Campbell discuss how to support lung cancer awareness in Kentucky to erase the lung cancer stigma and amplify the radon message.

Lindi is a lung cancer survivor and founder of Breath of Hope Kentucky, a local non-profit and a source of community for others diagnosed. The organization supports local lung cancer research initiatives to increase lung cancer survival statistics. Lindi invites others to join the fight against lung cancer by spreading awareness and erasing the lung cancer stigma.

The Importance of Radon Awareness

Radon gas is responsible for the deaths of more than 21,000 Americans every year. 500 of them in Kentucky alone. Kyle and Lindi discuss how lung cancer survivors and radon industry professionals can work together to amplify the radon message. A message that is critical to supporting lung cancer awareness initiatives – that anyone with lungs can get lung cancer. Radon being the leading cause of the disease among non-smokers

The lung cancer stigma negatively impacts the lives of those diagnosed. Others often assume that the victim smoked or lived a lifestyle that led to their diagnosis. Proper lung cancer testing is often not available to those classified as non-smokers because of the stigma that lung cancer is only a possibility with a history of smoking.

By amplifying the radon message, others can support lung cancer awareness and end the lung cancer stigma. Kyle and Lindi encourage others to join in the work to save lives by increasing awareness of the importance of early detection and prevention for everyone, even those who do not smoke.

“Our stories can provide hope, we are the breath of hope.”
Lindi Campbell
LUNG CANCER SURVIVOR AND FOUNDER OF BREATH OF HOPE KENTUCKY

Key Take-Aways:

  • The facts about radon gas. 
  • How Breath of Hope Kentucky is amplifying the message about the health risks of radon as the leading cause of lung cancer among non-smokers.
  • How the radon message can be applied by policymakers to implement policies that protect occupants from radon exposure.
  • Lindi defines the lung cancer stigma and how it affects those who are diagnosed.
  • What Breath of Hope Kentucky is doing as an organization to overcome the lung cancer stigma.
  • How spreading awareness about the dangers of radon exposure can help end the stigma of lung cancer. 
  • How the community and radon professionals can support lung cancer survivors. 
  • Lindi shares what’s in store for Breath of Hope Kentucky and how lung cancer survivor stories give hope to keep fighting. 

Links:

Listen to The Green Scene Podcast of our streaming platforms.

Categories
Blog Video

Leah Phillips’ Lung Cancer Survivor Story

I have lived in Louisville, Kentucky most of my life. For the last 10 years, I made managing my health a priority. I never smoked a day in my life. I exercise most days. I eat right. I have a yearly physical, mammogram, blood work, wear sunscreen, and basically do my best to be as healthy as possible. I am a busy mom to 3 children and loving my life and, bam…I am hit with this most unlikely diagnosis.

My journey with lung cancer began like many other stories I have read…with a misdiagnosis. A persistent cough in October 2019 led to a chest x-ray and an eventual diagnosis of pneumonia.  After 2 rounds of antibiotics that were not effective, doctors ordered a chest CT scan and diagnosed me with Antibiotic Resistant Pneumonia.  I was admitted to the hospital with 2 IV antibiotics and a bronchoscopy was performed by a Pulmonologist and told the results were “normal.” After a 5 day stay, I was discharged from the hospital to recover.  

Time passed but my cough was still hanging around and I still just wasn’t feeling myself. I knew something wasn’t right.  Two weeks after returning home from the hospital I went back to my Primary Care Physician with worsening side pain. I received another chest X-ray, followed by a chest CT scan that showed lesions on my spine.  I was once again admitted to the hospital where I had a bone biopsy, a brain MRI, a chest tube inserted, and another bronchoscopy procedure.  

I spent 8 days in a hospital bed and test results revealed I had stage IV adenocarcinoma lung cancer. It was one week before Christmas and I was only 43 years old. To say this was a shock, is putting it lightly! Molecular testing results showed I have the EGFR exon 19 deletion mutation. EGFR mutations are most common in female nonsmokers with adenocarcinoma like me. The mutation can cause cells to grow out of control and lead to cancer as it did in my case.

On December 30th I started a targeted therapy drug called Tagrisso known to show successful results in slowing down, reversing, and even eliminating some of the cancer due to this mutation. It is not a cure, as there is currently no cure for stage 4 lung cancer, but it is the best line of treatment for my type of mutation and I am fortunate to have access to this line of targeted treatment. It is not without its share of side effects that are sometimes challenging to deal with, but I know this little pill I take every day is saving my life. However, it is a constant reminder that I have cancer.

Since January 2, 2020, I have been traveling back and forth between my Oncologist in Louisville and Oncologist Dr. Horn at Vanderbilt who is an expert in the type of cancer I have.

The second leading cause of lung cancer is exposure to radon gas and Dr. Horn believes this is most likely the cause of my lung cancer since I have never smoked. Looking back, we did have slightly elevated radon at our house we moved out of 3 years prior to my diagnosis, but I cannot pinpoint any other times I may have been exposed. It is important that people understand the danger of this radioactive gas and have their homes tested for radon. I never in a million years would have expected to receive this diagnosis and if I can help others understand that anyone can get lung cancer, I want to be able to generate that awareness with my story.

I am fighting, I am remaining positive, and I am living my best life one day at a time.

Leah is a part of the organization, Breath of Hope KY. Learn more about this organization.

Categories
Blog Video

Chasity Harney’s Lung Cancer Survivor Story

I was born and raised in Kentucky where I currently live with my husband and our three children.  Never in a million years would I have believed I could get lung cancer because there is no history of the disease in my family and I have never smoked.

One day, while teaching at my school, I had a sharp pain in my chest radiating around to my back that would not go away. I was concerned enough to see my doctor the next day and was relieved when she made the decision to order a CT scan. Thankfully, that one occurrence alarmed me enough to see my doctor right away because I had not experienced any other symptoms and I never felt that original pain again.

As a result of the images on the chest scan and some additional tests, on October 9, 2018, I was diagnosed with stage 3c adenocarcinoma NSCLC just two weeks shy of my 41st birthday. I had 2 tumors in my upper left lobe and 11 lymph nodes that were cancerous.  Initially, I felt numb when we first heard this news. I hurt for my husband and my 3 children and experienced lots of fear not knowing what my future would look like.

Shortly after my diagnosis, we received the news that I tested positive for the EGFR mutation. I soon learned that having this mutation made me a candidate for targeted therapy. I had six weeks of chemo, 30 rounds of radiation, a lobectomy to remove the upper lobe of my left lung, a wedge resection to remove a nodule in the bottom left lobe, 5 pinpoint radiation treatments on my left and right lung, and currently, I am on the targeted therapy pill Tagrisso (80) mg. Throughout this process, I experienced what I would describe as a feeling similar to grief.  I mourned for my old life…before the cancer. As a family, we were lost.

Over time as I healed from the initial surgery and have had a chance to process our new reality, I realized I wanted to do more to raise awareness about this disease. I hope to help others understand that lung cancer is not a smoker’s disease, it can happen to anyone, even if you have never smoked.  I also hope by sharing my story people who read this will listen to their body and seek medical attention when something doesn’t seem right. You never know when your body’s pain or discomfort is an underlying sign of something more serious.

Kentucky may rank # 1 in lung cancer cases and deaths, but don’t be so quick to assume it is because of smoking.  My story is proof that if you have lungs…you can get lung cancer. I can’t say for certain what caused the damage in my lungs to develop into cancer but after I was diagnosed, we had our home tested for radon. We made the decision to put in a mitigation system when the radon readings were 8.0 pCi/L, twice the measurement of what is considered a health risk.  I was also exposed to a lot of dust and particles in the air when the school I taught in for 17 years was torn down and the air of our new school was temporarily filled with the overflow of unclean air.

I would advise anyone who is newly diagnosed to try and stay calm and don’t panic. It’s important not to rush into any treatment before seeking a second or even a third opinion. I was eager to get treatment started so I initially did not get a second opinion. I first did chemo and radiation close to home then went to The James Center in Columbus Ohio to a lung specialist and thoracic surgeon. I am currently still being treated by those same doctors at The James Center in Columbus.  If I had to do it over, I believe I would have sought out a second opinion before rushing into treatment.

A cancer diagnosis is devastating. My whole entire family has learned never to take one day for granted. We live in the present, not looking at the past or future. God continues to give me strength and endurance daily to be the wife and mom I need to be.

Chasity is a part of the organization, Breath of Hope KY. Learn more about the organization.

Categories
Blog Video

Lindi Campbell’s Lung Cancer Survivor Story

In December 2015, I was only 51 when a spot was discovered on the lower lobe of my right lung. I have never used tobacco products, was a very healthy eater and regular exerciser. The nodule was found initially on a routine x-ray by my Primary Care Physician. A CT scan, a PET scan, and numerous follow-up CT scans over a period of 18 months showed some growth, but the reason for the growth was still inconclusive. Lung cancer seemed out of the realm of possibility due to my health history.

When the nodule reached the size of 2.4 cm a biopsy was scheduled to determine if the spot was cancerous. Initially, much to my relief, the results came back showing no signs of cancer. We would later learn that biopsies do not always rule out cancer. After treating the growth in my lung over several months for a possible fungus with no success, I was advised to have it removed without delay and surgery was immediately scheduled within weeks.

The firm advice to proceed with surgery most likely is the key factor in catching it before it had spread. No one could fathom that it would be cancer. A wedge resection surgery was scheduled in December 2017 to remove the unidentified growth. However, during surgery, pathology revealed cancer.

A thoracotomy was performed immediately to remove two lobes of my right lung to ensure all of the cancer was gone. The final pathology report indicated two types of cancer, Adenocarcinoma and Squamous cell carcinoma. This rare form takes on a name of its own, Adenosquamous Carcinoma. According to the American Journal of Clinical Pathology, this type of cancer exists in 0.4% to 4% of cases. My cancer, although very rare, had not spread to the lymph nodes and was stage 1. My survival prognosis was considered to be very good. Unfortunately, only 16% of people will be diagnosed in the earliest stages like me, when the disease is most treatable.

After a year and a half of clean scans post-surgery, a few new spots began to appear in my left lung. We continued to follow the growth of these nodules until one in the lower portion of the lung had grown enough (8 mm) to warrant removal for further testing.  In May 2020 a wedge resection was scheduled to examine the growth. It too was cancer. Molecular testing of the tissue revealed I have a genetic mutation called EGFR exon 19 deletion that is driving the cancer in my lungs. I am now on a targeted therapy drug called Osemertinib to intercept the work of the mutation and help prevent future recurrences. I will be on this medicine until it stops working or until there is a better option. Our hope is the cancer does not ever return or spread outside of my lungs. I am very grateful for my health at this time and for the hope research and medicine provide lung cancer survivors, but there is still so much work to be done to increase survival statistics of this number one cancer killer.

Learn about Lindi’s organization, Breath of Hope KY.