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USEPA Encourages Testing for Radon Gas Described as Largest Environmental Killer

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Test for radonAnyone who has tested for radon gas knows that it is odourless, tasteless, invisible, and radioactive.

Due to the radioactivity of radon gas it has long been known to be a cancer threat.

This page was uploaded first in 2011, but the text remains relevant.

Not enough is being done to seek out and protect homes where there is a radon problem. That is according to Peter C. Hendrick, Executive Director of the American Association of Radon Scientists and Technologists. In fact the US EPA has been reported as saying that it’s the second leading cause of lung cancer after smoking.

To publicize the problem the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has called this month (January) “National Radon Action Month”.

The message is that families should test their homes for the toxic gas. But Hendrick, said that his association were concerned that the EPA’s home testing program is voluntary. A mandatory requirement would be preferred.

Hendrick said; “I had my doubts when I first got involved, because it seemed to me that if this was a serious issue, the EPA would do something about it”. “That has been my biggest surprise as we have the largest environmental killer in the country being treated as a voluntary problem”.

Radon is a naturally occurring, radioactive gas formed by the breakdown of uranium. It comes from the radioactive decay of uranium, which is present in small amounts almost everywhere in the Earth’s crust.

It is found in many types of soil and rocks (usually igneous types), and it is only a problem when it seeps homes through cracks in floors, walls and foundations.

Radon is measured in units called “becquerels per cubic meter”.

The only way to detect it is to test for it. It is drawn into (or forced through pressure differences into) a home whenever the pressure of the atmosphere inside a basement is lower than that in the surrounding ground. If the surrounding atmospheric pressure imbalance between the soil gases and the interior of the home is reversed, radon will be vented away from the structure.

The main concern is that there is an elevated risk of developing cancer for all those subjected to long term exposure to radon in air and water. It is a known human carcinogenic substance with “genotoxic” effects when doses are high.

The most authoritative radon risk model currently accepted world-wide assumes a linear no threshold approach. In other words, the probability of a health effect is directly proportional to the exposure dose.

Many also believe that radon is much more likely to cause lung cancer in people who smoke.

Radon is a known human carcinogen with genotoxic action at high doses. The most prominent risk model currently accepted world-wide assumes a linear no threshold approach which implies the probability of a health effect is directly proportional with the exposure dose. Radon is much more likely to cause lung cancer in people who smoke. Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas. It comes from the radioactive decay of uranium, which is present in small amounts almost everywhere in the Earth’s crust.

Lung cancer can start when a cell is damaged and the cell does not repair itself correctly. The more radon you are exposed to the more is the opportunity for cell damage.

EPA’s most recent health risk assessment estimates that 20,000 lung cancer deaths each year are due to radon. It recommends mitigating homes with high radon levels, and there are straight-forward techniques to reduce radon build-up that will work in almost any home. The EPA along with the National Safety Council are recommending that homeowners and leasholders test their house for radon and learn how to protect their families from radon gas. If it is found in offices, schools, and government facilities they should also be tested for this damaging carcinogen as well.

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