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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.
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Blog

Do I Need a Radon Test? The First Step in Radon Exposure Prevention

You may be asking “do I need a radon test?” because you find yourself needing to come to a decision in the middle of your real estate transaction, wondering if the added cost is worth it. Or maybe you are a homeowner who is not sure if a radon test is necessary. If in doubt – test. A radon test is relatively inexpensive when considering the risks of being exposed to harmful amounts of radon gas.

The Facts About Radon

Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas and the leading cause of lung cancer among non-smokers. Radon comes from the breakdown of Uranium in the ground and can be found in elevated levels in any home or building. Elevated radon levels have been recorded in both old and newly constructed homes and buildings.

Since you cannot see, taste, or smell radon gas, the only way to know if your home has elevated levels (or not) is to test. Every home or building is at risk for containing elevated concentrations of radon gas.

The Second Leading Cause of Lung Cancer

Radon is responsible for the deaths of more than 21,000 people (about the seating capacity of Madison Square Garden) in the U.S. every year. The number of lung cancer cases among non-smokers continues to rise each year. While efforts to reduce tobacco use as the number one cause of the disease have been effective, there still are additional risk factors for lung cancer that we should be acting against.

Exposure to radon at home can be prevented and reduced with proper radon testing and mitigation. So, if you are asking “Do I need a radon test?”, our advice is: when in doubt, test. 

Lung Cancer Survivor Stories

Read about lung cancer survivors in Kentucky who lived a healthy lifestyle, never smoked, and who believe their diagnoses were caused by exposure to radon gas.

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.

Do I Need a Radon Test

Regardless of what situation you find yourself in, if you are questioning whether you need a radon test, it is better to be sure that harmful levels of radon are not present than to not test. There is no price for the peace of mind that comes in knowing your home is healthy and safe.

If you are buying a home
Scenario Do you need a radon test?
Home seller discloses that the home was never tested for radon. Test. If the results come back elevated, you can discuss options for installing a radon mitigation system.
Home seller discloses that the home was tested for radon and the results came back below the EPA action level of 4.0 pCi/L. Test. It is not clear how long ago or in what time of year the test was conducted. Radon levels can fluctuate and change with time, weather conditions, and home construction. If the results still come back below the action level, then you can have peace of mind against radon exposure should you move forward with the purchase.
Home seller discloses that the home was tested for radon and the results came back above the EPA action level of 4.0 pCi/L. Test. If the results of the test come back elevated, you may have an opportunity to negotiate an allowance to install a radon mitigation system. Elevated levels can be resolved and should not be a reason to not move forward with the purchase of the home.
The home already has a mitigation system installed. Test. We recommend homes with mitigation systems be tested every 2 years to ensure that the system is continuing to function properly. A faulty mitigation system could be doing more harm than good, and the home may still have elevated levels of radon.
The home does not have a mitigation system installed. Test. If a mitigation system installation is something you are interested in pursuing as a part of your real estate transaction, consider your options for requesting a seller credit to help cover the cost. A mitigation system installed by our team of licensed and certified professionals is an effective way to keep your home safe from radon gas.
The home does not have a basement. Test. Radon can, and has been, found in elevated levels in homes that do not have a basement. The foundation type of your home doesn’t determine the radon potential. Homes built on all foundation types, such as slab on grade and crawlspace, may contain dangerous radon levels.
The home is a new construction. Test. Elevated radon levels have been found in both new and old homes and buildings. New homes may be at greater risk because of how efficiently they are built. Air in the home is cycled out less often, meaning more opportunity for radon to accumulate in higher concentrations.
If you own your home
Scenario Do you need a radon test?
You have never tested your home before. Test. Know your risk of radon exposure at home.
You have a mitigation system installed but have never had it serviced and have not conducted any follow up testing in over 2 years. Test. Like any machine, radon systems can experience wear and can break down or not work as effectively as they once did. It is important to test every few years to ensure your mitigation system is continuing to keep you safe at home.
You have only tested your home in the warm summer months. Test. Radon levels are almost always higher in the cold winter months due to changes in atmospheric pressure. Simply put, your home breathes in more air more quickly in the winter. Any risk of radon exposure is likely to be elevated in the colder season.
You have a radon mitigation system installed but have since installed a sump pump or conducted other forms of construction on the home. Test. If sump pumps are installed after your mitigation system is installed and are not sealed correctly, the sensitive pressure functionality of your mitigation system could be compromised. Not to mention the un-sealed hole in your foundation, which is a perfect avenue for radon to intrude into your home.
The home is a new construction. Test. Elevated radon levels have been found in both new and old homes and buildings. New homes may be at greater risk because of how efficiently they are built. Air in the home is cycled out less often, meaning more opportunity for radon to accumulate and stick around.
Do I Need a Radon Test

How Radon Testing Works

There are many different options and types of radon tests available, depending on what scenario you find yourself in. There are short-term radon tests, long-term tests, and electronic continuous radon monitor (CRM) tests.

Radon tests are placed at the lowest point of the home or building. Charcoal tests absorb radon gas in the charcoal where it is stored until it can be mailed and processed by a licensed radon testing laboratory. Electronic, or CRM, testing devices are placed, activated, and have an internal mechanism that tracks each time a radon alpha particle hits it. These tests are highly sensitive and record a more detailed account of the radon levels in your home.

Short-Term CRM Tests

Short Term CRM Radon Test

These tests are placed for a minimum of 48 hours where they measure the radon in your home and provide a detailed report. There is no mailing required, and the results of your test are immediately available. Using a CRM to test provides the most accurate and precise measurement of the radon levels in your home during the test period. CRM tests can be provided by licensed and certified radon testing professionals. Our team here at Protect Environmental is NRPP certified to conduct radon testing for accurate and detailed results.

Short-term Liquid Scintillation Tests

Short Term radon - RAdata Device

Testing devices that hang on a wall in your home for about 3-5 days, are sealed, mailed, and analyzed by a radon testing laboratory. You will get one number back as your radon test result, as opposed to hourly readings when utilizing a CRM. Those who conduct short-term liquid scintillation tests may consider follow-up testing to verify the result, especially if the results come back close to the EPA action level of 4.0 pCi/L.

Long-Term CRM Tests

Long Term Radon Test

Long-term devices are placed and activated for a maximum period of 90 days. Long-term tests are helpful to identify and overcome any seasonal weather conditions and give you a more detailed look at the overall story of radon concentrations in your home through different seasons.

With the right detailed and accurate information, you can make an informed decision for your peace of mind protection against radon in your home.

Here at Protect Environmental, we utilize our proprietary Radon Sentinel technology to conduct CRM tests. Designed to be highly sensitive, our devices supply more detailed readings of the radon concentrations in your home. Reach out to our team today to schedule a professional radon test and know your risk of exposure to radon gas.

Do I need a Radon Test
Radon Sentinel

What is a Safe Radon Level?

The U.S. EPA has set the radon action level to 4.0 pCi/L. Although, there is no safe level of radon. What 4.0 pCi/L means is that at a test result of 4, the risk of exposure outweighs the cost to install a mitigation system. This action level is different in other countries and is mostly a benchmark to understand the comparison between assumed risk and cost.

Our opinion? You can’t put a price on peace of mind protection against radon exposure in the places you live, work, and learn.

Our Residential Project Manager, Greg Turner, likes to describe radon exposure risk like a game of darts. You have your dart board on the other side of the room, representing damage to your lungs. The darts represent radon gas. The more darts you have, the greater your chances of hitting the bullseye on the dartboard. A radon test helps you to know how many darts you have, and a mitigation system helps reduce the number of darts, or your chances of hitting the bullseye.

As a certified radon professional, I help the customer understand what needs to be done to reduce their risk from radon gas exposure. We know radon is a dangerous radioactive gas and our clients’ safety and peace of mind is our top priority, from the very first evaluation and all the way through the mitigation installation process.

Greg Turner, Residential Project Manager.
What are my Radon Levles

If your test comes back elevated, don't fear.

Radon mitigation is an effective solution for reducing the radon levels in your home. Acting as a sort of vacuum, a mitigation system has an activated fan and pipe structure that sucks the air out from under your home and releases it above your roofline, out of harm’s way.

Working with our team of certified and licensed radon mitigation specialists is imperative to ensure the radon levels in your home are properly managed. A poorly installed system could not only fail to reduce the radon levels in your home, but in some cases have been found to make radon levels worsen.

Do not attempt to DIY your radon mitigation system. Do your research, and make sure you are working with the professionals to properly mitigate your radon gas exposure risk.

The average cost in the United States for a radon mitigation system is anywhere between $1,200 to $4,500 (depending on your foundation type).   When installed correctly, and with proper maintenance, these systems will last many years, providing the peace of mind that you are not being exposed to cancer-causing, radioactive radon gas. If you’ve tested your home and determine you have a problem, work with our team of licensed and certified professionals for the best results.

If you live outside of our service area, visit the NRPP website to search for a licensed and certified radon contractor in your area.

Test for Radon, Know Your Radon Risk

When in doubt – test. If there are elevated radon levels in your home, it is important to know your risk, so that you can work to reduce the radon levels in your home. Conducting a radon test is the first step in knowing if the air you are breathing at home is healthy and safe.

Reach out to our team of certified trusted professionals to schedule your radon test today!

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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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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.
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Blog

What is the Solution to Soil Vapor Intrusion Risk?

Chemical vapor intrusion (VI) can be a significant health risk to building occupants in the proximity of soils and/or groundwater contaminated by volatile organic compounds (VOC emissions). The risk of soil vapor intrusion often dominates current investigations of environmental contamination. Also, vapor intrusion can have profound impacts on property developments and real estate transactions for properties adjacent to contamination. Yet, the vapor intrusion industry continues to evolve and the most effective and efficient solution to soil vapor intrusion is further debated. 

As a former environmental regulator, my first experiences with vapor intrusion and sampling methods showed an industry clearly in its early stages. Government and Industry experts invest significant time and money researching these sampling methods. They also study the nature of vapor migration in preferential pathways and beneath structures.

In the 15 years that have followed those first vapor intrusion experiences, a consensus on representative sampling for a definitive determination of vapor intrusion indoor air risks remains elusive. In the absence of an agreement, the result is a range of variability in how such determinations are made. Frequently, there are debates regarding vapor intrusion risk to building occupants and the multiple iterations of sampling. Often, the sampling can take months or even years and cost thousands of dollars.  All the while, the potential for occupant exposure continues.

Don’t debate, mitigate.

Protection from changing vapor intrusion regulations and best practices

The EPA’s VI guidance (EPA 2015) clearly states that pre-emptive mitigation can be an early action that protects building occupants. Mitigation also involves less disruption to the occupants compared to multiple iterations of indoor air sampling events.

Additionally, mitigation can generally be implemented relatively quickly and cost effectively in most structures and building types. While vapor intrusion and sampling practices continue to be regularly debated, soil gas mitigation techniques are well founded from over 30 years of radon mitigation.

Furthermore, national consensus-based standards developed by the American Association of Radon Scientist and Technologists (AARST), through the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), include a broad group of stakeholders with backgrounds spanning in radon, chemical vapor intrusion, state and federal regulatory agencies, and manufacturing. These standards, available for free at (http://standards.AARST.com), establish clear criteria for the design and implementation of soil gas mitigation solutions. 

Ultimately, rather than debating yet-to-be-decided-upon vapor intrusion investigation practices, investing in the established science of mitigation saves time and money.

Don’t debate, mitigate.

Soil Gas Vapor Intrusion

VOC's, Radon, and Other Contaminants

Beyond the primary purposes of mitigating to eliminate intrusion of known VOC impacts, mitigation provides several secondary benefits. Active soil depressurization not only prevents VOCs from entering a structure, but also limits the intrusion of other soil gases, including water vapor, odors, pesticides, and radon.

A reduction in water vapor intrusion can significantly improve a structure both in comfort and in the reduction of potential mold development. Also, radon reduction is perhaps the greatest standalone reason for mitigating a property. Radon is found throughout the country and the leading cause of lung cancer among non-smokers. This radioactive gas is a known carcinogen that results in approximately 21,000 lung cancer deaths annually (https://www.epa.gov/radon/health-risk-radon). The current EPA action level for radon is 4.0 pCi/L, at which the risk for developing cancer is up to 1000 times greater than the cleanup standard for environmental contaminants. Besides VOC intrusion, all structures can benefit from active soil gas mitigation.

Don’t debate, mitigate.

Soil Vapor Intrusion Solution - Mitigation and Monitoring

Actively mitigating structures at the earliest indication of potential vapor intrusion risks utilizes well established and standardized techniques to immediately protect building inhabitants from suspected contamination. Although, mitigation can also protect inhabitants from radon and potentially improve the overall indoor air quality. Compared to ongoing, costly, and often inconclusive indoor air sampling events, active soil gas mitigation is quick, cost effective, and a definitive solution to vapor intrusion.

Additionally, modern advances for vapor intrusion monitoring now exist through telemetric technology. Continuous long-term monitoring for mitigation operation and performance reduces the need for costly and time-consuming sampling.  With advanced monitoring equipment, such as the Vapor Sentinel Remote Monitoring system, mitigation can be monitored continuously, documenting any changes in data. 24/7/365 continuous monitoring protects stakeholders by protecting against possible liabilities and keeping building occupants from potential exposure.

 Don’t debate, mitigate. 

Want more information?

Contact our team of experts to learn more about Vapor Sentinel Remote Monitoring for your project sites.
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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.

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Don’t Fear the Vapor

Hazards surround us every day. From sharing the road with my teenage son (best give him room) to the foods we eat (E. Coli with your romaine?), to the hands we shake (pre-COVID of course), everything has risks. Managing these risks is what allows us to focus on family, fun, and work (even if not always in that order). Environmental risk management is no different.

For the past two decades, vapor intrusion has been the exposure pathway of greatest concern with environmental contamination when compared to groundwater ingestion and soil exposure.  This is easy to understand. As direct groundwater ingestion in metropolitan and industrialized areas is increasingly less common given municipally managed drinking water.

Similarly, direct exposure to contaminated soils is an exposure pathway easily managed through removal and/or engineering controls. So, this leaves vapor intrusion as the exposure pathway with the greatest potential.

Don’t fear the vapor (queue Blue Oyster Cult soundtrack).

An always-changing vapor intrusion industry

The science of characterizing chemical vapor intrusion pathways continues to evolve. However, the science behind mitigating intrusion has been underway since the residential radon industry originated almost 40 years ago.

Today, this already mature industry continues to evolve. This is demonstrated by the national consensus standards promulgated by the American Association of Radon Scientists and Technologists (AARST) through the American National Standards Institute (ANSI).

These standards are our guide as to the methods of radon and soil gas mitigation in single-family homes (SGM-SF-2017), multi-family buildings (RMS-MF-2018), large building/schools (RMS-LB-2018), and in New Construction (CC-1000-2018).  They give a great deal of detail on how to design, install, and verify performance of soil gas mitigation systems to protect the building occupants.

Don’t fear the vapor. 

Environmental risk and liability

A recent article regarding California updates to vapor intrusion screening criteria identified the criteria as impeding Brownfield redevelopment of contaminated areas. While potential vapor intrusion should be addressed in Brownfield redevelopment, it does not need to prevent it from happening.

Under the 2001 Brownfield Amendments to CERCLA, a bona fide protective purchaser (BFPP) is shielded from liability for cleaning up historical contamination. This makes Brownfield redevelopments financially feasible. The BFPP provision does require the purchaser to exercise appropriate care to limit continued human exposure.

Administrative controls on contaminated soil (soil management plan) and groundwater (usage restriction) are typical “due care” acts to protect exposure to these media. This is assuming significant off-site contamination migration has occurred.

So, this leaves the vapor inhalation exposure pathway. While mitigating vapor intrusion has financial implications, it generally pales in comparison to measures required to control off-site migration of groundwater or excavation/disposal of contaminated groundwater. This makes vapor intrusion the most manageable exposure pathway. 

Don’t fear the vapor. 

Better environmental risk management is possible

Once a vapor mitigation solution is in place, due care of operation, maintenance, and monitoring (OM&M) is needed to make sure the system continues to protect building occupants.

The Vapor Sentinel Remote Monitoring (VSRM) system greatly simplifies this OM&M by providing 24/7/365 monitoring of system performance. The monitoring system immediately notifies stakeholders of a problem with the system (e.g. building maintenance, building tenants, regulators, etc.). 

The VSRM user interface is customizable to each stakeholder. It provides only the information needed for their role. In addition to current performance data, the system also provides historical performance data. Historical data can be critical evidence for legally defending that occupants were, are, and will be continuously protected against exposure to hazardous soil gases.

With Vapor Sentinel Remote Monitoring keeping watch, there is no need to worry about risks of vapor intrusion. Vapor Sentinel makes it possible to move redevelopment projects forward while satisfying standard requirements and protecting building occupants around the clock.

Don’t fear the vapor.

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Want more information?

Contact our team of experts to learn more about Vapor Sentinel Remote Monitoring for your project sites.
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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Computing for COVID-19

Protect Environmental cares about the health and safety of its community and has recently signed up to host a node to support the efforts of a parallel computing Coronavirus research initiative.

Rosetta@Home is a distributed computing project that engages community involvement by utilizing volunteered computer space to speed up and extend research being conducted on existing biomolecules, including coronavirus proteins, as well as designing new proteins. Rosetta’s Computing for COVID project supports the research necessary to create medicines and vaccines as potential cures for the coronavirus.

How it works: a computing grid uses distributed computer resources to reach a common goal. These computers work together by assigning certain tasks and projects to millions of different nodes hosted on thousands of different servers.

“In a project of this scale, there are millions of large servers hosting thousands of nodes each. We are hosting just a tiny node in a huge effort. This is the largest amount of multi-organizational computing effort that has ever been unleashed to solve a problem in history, and we are excited to be even a small part of it.”

– Kyle Hoylman, Managing Partner of Protect Environmental

The Institute for Protein Design: University of Washington’s Baker Lab actively utilizes volunteered nodes for seven key projects, which are believed to have an immediate impact on containing COVID-19. You can read more about these projects individually by following the links below or by visiting the Institute for Protein Design’s website: Coronavirus Response

Protect Environmental supports the University of Washington’s Baker Lab and the research they are doing to fight the coronavirus. By participating in the Computing for COVID project, we believe we are doing a small part to help our community press on toward discovering an effective solution.  

To learn how you can be a part of the Rosetta@Home project Computing for COVID, visit their websites, consider giving online toward their research efforts, and share about the work they are doing. When we all band together, each contributing even in a small way, the impossible can be made possible. 

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The Reaction to Coronavirus Exposure vs Radon Exposure

The coronavirus has significantly impacted the lives of Kentuckians over the past several months. Major events have been canceled. Schools have been closed. Business has come to a grinding halt. The terms ‘quarantine’ and ‘social-distancing’ have become common. We even receive daily updates from our governor regarding our ongoing response to this public health emergency. To be certain, the changes to our daily lives have been sudden and drastic, all caused by a silent killer – the coronavirus. 

The similarities between radon, a cancer-causing, radioactive gas found in hazardous concentrations in almost 50% of all Kentucky buildings, and the coronavirus are striking. Both involve public health. Both have taken the lives of hundreds of Kentuckians this year.  Both have created enormous economic burdens. Both are silent killers. And both can be prevented by avoiding exposure. The difference in how Kentucky has responded to the coronavirus versus how it has responded to radon is also striking, which begs to question, “What if Kentucky responded to radon like it’s responding to the coronavirus?”

If Kentucky responded to radon like it’s responding to the coronavirus, swift action would be taken by our policymakers to mitigate exposure to radon. Buildings where we learn, work, and play would be monitored to ensure occupants aren’t unknowingly being exposed to unsafe concentrations of radon gas. And when unsafe concentrations of radon are identified, a mitigation system would be installed on the building to effectively manage occupant exposure. Persons buying a home would be empowered to make an informed decision regarding radon in their new home through effective notification and disclosure policies. Newly constructed buildings would include a passive ventilation system for more efficient and economical management of radon intrusion and require testing prior to occupancy. The result of implementing common-sense radon policy would be healthier, safer buildings where occupants aren’t being unknowingly exposed to cancer-causing, radioactive radon gas.    

The response to the coronavirus in our state proves our policymakers are capable of acting quickly. Why haven’t these same policymakers reacted as quickly to the ongoing pandemic caused by radon? Exposure to radon claims the lives of approximately 500 Kentuckians every year. Losing a loved one to a preventable disease has a tragic impact on Kentucky families. The financial burden created by the nearly $200 million dollars in direct and indirect costs caused by radon-induced lung cancer each year is alarming. Yet, our policymakers continue to ignore the unnecessary deaths and financial burden caused by this terrible disease.    

To be certain, if Kentucky responded to radon like it’s responding to the coronavirus, the impact on preventing radon-induced lung cancer and the number of lives saved would be significant. Maybe the question we should be asking is, “Why isn’t Kentucky responding to radon like it’s responding to the coronavirus?”  

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Radon in Military Housing

U.S. Service members and their families living in housing owned and operated by the government are at risk for exposure to hazardous concentrations of cancer-causing, radioactive radon gas, as detailed in a recent report released by the Department of Defense (DoD) Office of Inspector General (OIG).

The report concludes: If the DoD and the Services do not improve policies and procedures to identify, mitigate or minimize, monitor, disclose, and oversee health and safety hazards in GO‑GC military housing, the DoD and the Services will continue to risk the health and safety of Service members and their families. 

U.S. Service members and their families living in housing owned and operated by the government are at risk for exposure to hazardous concentrations of cancer-causing, radioactive radon gas, as detailed in a recent report released by the Department of Defense (DoD) Office of Inspector General (OIG).

Evaluation Background

Radon is a naturally occurring, odorless, colorless radioactive gas formed by the decay of uranium. Radon exists in varying amounts in all soils, rocks, and some groundwater supplies worldwide. Radon enters the lungs when inhaled and chronic exposure may lead to lung cancer. Exposure to radon is the leading cause of lung cancer among non-smokers (second overall to smoking) and is responsible for more than 21,000 annual deaths in the United States. Radon poses a relatively low threat to human health outdoors; however, radon can accumulate to dangerous levels indoors. The presence of high levels of uranium in the soil or rock is not the sole reason for elevated indoor radon potential. Building design, building usage, building construction material, airflow, occupancy pattern, and the operation of the building’s heating, ventilation, and air‑conditioning system influence the accumulation of radon indoors. Testing for radon is the only way to determine if radon hazards are present in GO‑GC military housing.

Released on May 4, the report details the findings of the evaluation, which was conducted to determine if the DoD is effectively managing health and safety hazards, including radon, in GO-GC military housing. Currently, more than 38,000 GO-GC military housing units are owned, managed, or maintained by the DoD worldwide.

Government‑Owned and Government‑Controlled Military Family Housing
052820-DOD-OIG-Tables-01-1

Eight military installations containing approximately 15,525 (41 percent of total) GO-GC housing units were included in the evaluation:

  • U.S. Army Garrison (USAG) Humphreys, Republic of Korea
  • USAG Wiesbaden, Germany
  • Naval Station (NAVSTA) Guantanamo Bay, Cuba
  • Commander Fleet Activities (CFA) Yokosuka, Japan
  • Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Iwakuni, Japan
  • Kadena Air Base (AB), Japan
  • Spangdahlem AB, Germany
  • Wright‑Patterson Air Force Base (AFB), Dayton, Ohio

The evaluation included:

  • A review of records, health and safety hazard management plans, policies and procedures, and health and safety hazard assessment and testing results to determine whether installation officials identified potential hazards and were implementing the requirements for the management of health and safety hazards in GO‑GC military housing.
  • Interviews with installation officials from housing, operations and maintenance, engineering, environmental, fire, safety, and health departments to determine their knowledge of applicable health and safety management requirements and their efforts to manage health and safety hazards in GO‑GC military housing.
  • A visual assessment of a selection of 187 GO‑GC military housing units to determine if health and safety hazards were effectively managed in GO‑GC military housing.

The Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) of 1976 assigns regulatory and program implementation responsibilities to federal agencies, such as the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), to control substances determined to cause unreasonable risk to public health or the environment. The TSCA currently covers the control of highly toxic substances, including radon. For purposes of the evaluation, the HUD’s Healthy Homes Program Manual for best practices and techniques to achieve a healthy home was utilized. Based on the OIG’s review of health and safety hazards described in the manual and observations from previous DoD OIG reports, the management of nine potential health and safety hazards, including radon, were included in the evaluation.

Evaluation Findings for Radon

At each of the eight military installations evaluated, systemic deficiencies in the management of health and safety hazards in GO-GC military housing were identified. Specific to radon, the following findings were noted:

  • Installation Officials Did Not Establish a Radon Assessment and Mitigation Program – the evaluation determined that installation officials at USAG Humphreys, USAG Wiesbaden, and NAVSTA Guantanamo Bay did not establish a radon assessment and mitigation program for GO‑GC military housing. The report summarizes: Installation officials at USAG Humphreys, USAG Wiesbaden, and NAVSTA Guantanamo Bay could not determine the extent that radon hazards were present in GO‑GC military housing. Without establishing a radon assessment and mitigation program, installation officials cannot manage radon hazards, and residents may have been exposed to radon hazards in GO‑GC military housing.
  • Installation Officials Established a Radon Assessment and Mitigation Program but Did Not Manage Radon Hazards – the evaluation determined that installation officials at CFA Yokosuka, MCAS Iwakuni, Spangdahlem AB, and Kadena AB were not evaluating hazards, controlling hazards, or informing residents of the presence of radon. The report summarizes: Installation officials are unable to identify the extent that radon hazards were present in GO‑GC military housing because installation officials did not evaluate and control radon hazards. Therefore, residents may have been exposed to radon hazards in GO‑GC military housing. Furthermore, without installation officials informing residents of radon hazards, residents may not be aware of the potential health effects of radon exposure.
Radon Hazard Management Program Summary by Installation

Report Recommendations for Radon

In response to the evaluation findings, the following recommendations were made in the report:
  • Establish or revise appropriate DoD policies to address health and safety hazards, including radon, in military housing to manage health, safety, and environmental risks to acceptable levels for military housing residents.
  • Revise Army Regulation 420‑1, Chief of Naval Operations Instruction 5009.1, Marine Corps Order 11000.22, Air Force Instruction 32‑6001, and all other housing‑related policies to align with recommended DoD policy revisions.
  • Develop oversight policies and procedures to assess the management of health and safety hazards in GO‑GC military housing.
  • Direct installation officials to correct the specific radon health and safety hazard management deficiencies discussed in the report.

Our Analysis

Radon is the most significant environmental health risk present in GO-GC military housing. Unfortunately, installation officials could not determine the extent that radon hazards were present in GO-GC military housing at seven of the eight installations included in the evaluation, and residents may have been exposed to hazardous radon concentrations in these GO-GC military housing units.

As stated in the report, radon assessments were conducted in the 1990s at military installations worldwide by the Services in response to the TSCA requirement. Most likely, these assessments have never been updated, reinforcing the position that installation officials cannot determine the extent of radon hazards present today in GO-GC military housing, and residents may be exposed to hazardous radon concentrations in GO-GC military housing units. Because geological conditions change and renovations may be conducted that may significantly modify the building envelope and mechanical systems, the current consensus radon standards recommended by the EPA specify all buildings be assessed for radon a minimum of one time every five years (every two years in buildings under active mitigation).

The guidance contained within the Army policy (AR 420‑1), the Navy policy (OPNAVINST 5090.1D, also covering Marine Corps installations), and the Air Force policy (AFI 48‑148) requires the implementation of a radon assessment and mitigation program. However, this guidance appears to be outdated or fails to incorporate requirements for radon contractors working on GO-GC military housing to be certified through a proficiency program recognized by the EPA or follow current consensus radon standards.  

In contrast, Section 3061 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020 applies to privatized military housing units, which constitute more than 99 percent of military housing in the continental United States. This Act requires an ongoing radon assessment and mitigation program to be implemented for all privatized military housing that includes radon measurement and mitigation activities be conducted by a radon contractor certified by a proficiency program recognized by the EPA following the consensus radon standards recommended by the agency.

In our opinion, adoption of the same requirements being utilized for privatized military housing should also be adopted for GO-GC military housing. After all, why shouldn’t Service members and their families living in GO-GC military housing be provided with the same protection against cancer-causing, radioactive radon as those living in privatized military housing?     

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Radon and the Symptoms of Radon Gas Poisoning

Many parts of the country are at high risk for exposure to radon. In Kentucky and Southern Indiana, almost 50% of all buildings contain radon concentrations above the US EPA action level of 4.0 pCi/L. This risk is even higher in Louisville and Lexington, where the percentage of buildings with a radon problem can exceed 65% in certain areas! So, what is radon gas and why should you care?

What is radon gas?

Radon is a naturally occurring, cancer-causing, radioactive gas that you can’t see, smell, or taste. The gas derives from the breakdown of uranium and seeps up through the ground, diffusing into the air. In a few areas of the country, radon is contained in ground water, where it off-gasses into the air when the water is used. Radon gas usually exists in relatively low concentrations in outdoor air, averaging 0.4 pCi/L. However, when radon intrudes into buildings and becomes trapped in higher concentrations, significant health risks arise.

According to the US EPA, exposure to radon is the leading cause of lung cancer among non-smokers (second overall to smoking) and is responsible for more than 21,000 annual deaths in the United States. Read on for more about the health risks associated with radon gas and how to protect you and your loved ones from this silent killer.

Know-Your-Radon-Number
Understand your risk of radon exposure and radon gas poisoning.

How are you exposed to radon gas?

Most commonly, radon intrudes into buildings through gaps, cracks, and other pathways. In a small percentage of buildings, the gas can also be released from a private water source or emanate from building materials. Radon concentrations can also be higher in buildings that are more energy efficient – well-insulated, tightly-sealed buildings decrease the number of air changes per hour, which can increase exposure to radon.

Hazardous concentrations of radon can be found in all buildings, such as your home, your place of work, or even the school your children attend. According to the US EPA, about 1 in 15 buildings contain hazardous concentrations of radon gas. However, in some parts of our country, 50% or more of buildings have a radon problem!  

How-Radon-Enters-You-Home
How Radon Enters Your Home.

How does radon gas cause lung cancer?

Radon gas decays quickly, releasing tiny radioactive particles. When these particles are inhaled, they can damage the cells that line your lungs. Long-term exposure to radon can lead to lung cancer. If you smoke, your risk is even greater. An increased risk of leukemia associated with radon exposure in adults and children has also been suggested.

Due to lung shape and size differences, children have higher estimated radiation doses than adults. Children also have breathing rates faster than those of adults. Risk of lung cancer in children resulting from exposure to radon may be almost two times greater than the risk to adults exposed to the same amount of radon. Sadly, an estimated 70,000 classrooms contain hazardous radon concentrations because most schools and childcare facilities aren’t required to test for radon gas.

Radon-Effects-Lung-Cancer
Radon can be found at elevated levels in the air you breathe. Radon is a radioactive gas that damages the tissue in your lungs. Damaged lung tissue can mutate and develop into lung cancer.