Is there radon in your home?

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DougSeubert (5 years ago)

I uploaded this so that the actual PowerPoint slides can be downloaded (click on the “download” link) and edited in case anyone would like to adapt this presentation for use in their area (just replace the location-specific slides with data and resources from your area). Please contact me if you have any questions.

Slide 1

Hello. My name is Doug Seubert, I am a graduate student working on my PhD in public health from Walden University. I’m here to talk to you today about radon, what is it, how to test for it, and why this is so important.

Slide 2

Let’s start our discussion by talking about lung cancer: in the United States, it kills more people than any other kind of cancer (U.S. Cancer Statistics Working Group, 2013).   Each year, smoking and other tobacco use causes 443,000 deaths, and smoking is responsible for about 80-90% of all lung cancers (U.S. Cancer Statistics Working Group, 2013). This makes smoking is the leading cause of lung cancer. There are more than 7,000 chemicals in cigarettes, and there are hundreds of toxins in the smoke that can cause cancer (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC], 2011).   [Hold up cigarette] I think we all know what cigarette smoke smells like. If I were to light this up and start smoking it now, you would see the smoke and smell it. If you breathe it in, you might even taste it or feel it in your lungs as second hand smoke. It may make some of you cough. You might fan your hand in front of your face to keep the smoke away. Many of us also know how to avoid tobacco smoke and lower our risk for lung cancer.   References   Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC]. (2011). Chemicals in tobacco smoke. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/sgr/2010/consumer_booklet/chemicals_smoke/ index.htm   U.S. Cancer Statistics Working Group. (2013). United States Cancer Statistics: 1999–2009 Incidence and Mortality Web-based Report. Atlanta (GA): Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and National Cancer Institute. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/uscs

Slide 3

This is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States, you can’t see it and you can’t smell it (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC], 2010). It’s radon, a radioactive gas that is found in the soil and the air around us (CDC, 2010).   [Hold up small propane tank with “radioactive symbol” decal displayed prominently on tank] If I were to open this [take off cover] and let the radon leak out, you would not see it or smell it. You wouldn’t even notice anything different about the air in this room. But if you inhaled enough of the gas, you would increase your risk of getting lung cancer.   [Put cover back on tank] Don’t worry folks, this is just an empty propane tank. There is no radon gas in this tank. I only used this as a prop, like the cigarette, to illustrate the point that you cannot see or smell radon, which is why most people do not know it is in their homes. Yes, you could have radon gas in your home, but this presentation will tell you how to test the air in your home and what you can do if you do have radon in your home.   And this is important information to know, because radon causes more than 21,000 deaths each year (CDC, 2010).   Reference   Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC]. (2010). Radon in the home. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/nceh/radiation/brochure/profile_radon.htm

Slide 4

When we put this into perspective, we see that the number of deaths caused by radon each year is more than the number of people who are killed by drunk driving each year, almost three times as many deaths caused by falls, and three times as many deaths as those caused by drowning and house fires each year (Environmental Protection Agency [EPA], 2012a).   The good news is, however, that most of the deaths caused by radon can be prevented. But in order to prevent these deaths, it is important to understand exactly what radon is and where it comes from.   Reference   U.S. Environmental Protection Agency [EPA]. (2012a). A citizen’s guide to radon: The guide to protecting yourself and your family from radon. Washington D.C.: National Service Center for Environmental Publications. Retrieved from http://www.epa.gov/radon/pdfs/citizensguide.pdf

Slide 5

Radon is a gas that comes from the breakdown of uranium, which is found naturally in rocks, soil, and groundwater; Radon gas is found in outdoor and indoor air, but usually at low levels; Radon rises up from the soil and can enter buildings, usually through cracks in the foundation; It can collect at higher levels that can lead to health problems, including lung cancer (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2010).   Reference   Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC]. (2010). Radon in the home. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/nceh/radiation/brochure/profile_radon.htm

Slide 6

The Environmental Protection Agency, or EPA, measures radon levels in outdoor and indoor air, and based on these measurements they make recommendations to protect public health and safety. According to the EPA's measurements, the average amount of radon in outdoor air is .4 pCi/L (Environmental Protection Agency [EPA], 2012a). This is a very little amount; however, the EPA believes that even low levels of radon carry some risk (EPA, 2012b). The average amount of radon in indoor air is about 1.3 pCi/L (EPA, 2012a). By the way, pCi/L stands for "pico Curies per Liter." The pico Curie is named after Marie Curie, a scientist who is famous for her pioneering research on radioactivity. A pico Curie is a measure of how many bursts of energy are given off by radon atoms each second: The more radon atoms in each liter of air, the more bursts of energy are given off, and the more chance you have of being harmed by this energy (EPA, 2012a).   References   U.S. Environmental Protection Agency [EPA]. (2012a). A citizen’s guide to radon: The guide to protecting yourself and your family from radon. Washington D.C.: National Service Center for Environmental Publications. Retrieved from http://www.epa.gov/radon/pdfs/citizensguide.pdf   U.S. Environmental Protection Agency [EPA]. (2012b). EPA Map of Radon Zones. Retrieved from http://www.epa.gov/radon/zonemap.html

Slide 7

Many studies show a link between radon and lung cancer. The National Cancer Institute did a study to follow miners dying of lung cancer at a rate that is 5 times the rate for the general population (Environmental Protection Agency, 2012b). Many other studies of minors also show a connection between radon and higher rates of lung cancer deaths, and these studies are very important because they provide data on humans, not animals in a clinical laboratory (Environmental Protection Agency, 2012b).These studies also show that the effects of radon on minors is similar to what some people experience who have higher levels of radon in their homes: and this is how the EPA determined that indoor radon levels at or above 4 pCi/L raise the risk for lung cancer (Environmental Protection Agency, 2012b).   Under the Indoor Radon Abatement Act passed by Congress in 1988, the EPA must identify areas of the U.S. that are most likely to have higher radon levels. The EPA's Map of Radon Zones puts each county in the U.S. in one of three zones: Zone 1 counties have are likely to have indoor radon levels above 4 pCi/L; Zone 2 counties are likely to have indoor radon levels between 2 and 4 pCi/L; and Zone 3 counties are likely to have indoor radon levels below 2 pCi/L (Environmental Protection Agency, 2012b).   Reference   U.S. Environmental Protection Agency [EPA]. (2012b). EPA Map of Radon Zones. Retrieved from http://www.epa.gov/radon/zonemap.html

Slide 8

Here is what the map currently looks like. As you can see, much of the Midwest, including Wisconsin, is rated zone 1 or zone 2 (Environmental Protection Agency, 2012b). By the way, this map was created using a number of factors: The EPA uses data from actual indoor radon screening tests; they look at the geology of the area, including the type of rocks and soil; and they look at the amount of ground radioactivity detected by sensors attached to airplanes and helicopters Environmental Protection Agency, 2012b).   Now let's take a closer look at Wisconsin.   Reference   U.S. Environmental Protection Agency [EPA]. (2012b). EPA Map of Radon Zones. Retrieved from http://www.epa.gov/radon/zonemap.html

Slide 9

As you can now see, the entire state of Wisconsin is rated zone 1 or zone 2: Zone 1 counties, remember, are most likely to have indoor radon levels higher than 4 pCi/L (Environmental Protection Agency, 2012b). If you live in a zone 1 county, shown in red on the map, there is a high potential that indoor radon screenings conducted in homes will show radon levels above the 4 pCi/L: this is at or above the level of radon exposure that has been shown to cause lung cancer in minors in the studies we discussed earlier. But this map is only showing “predicted” indoor levels of radon: How do we know this map is accurate? Well, we can compare it to actual test results.   Reference   U.S. Environmental Protection Agency [EPA]. (2012b). EPA Map of Radon Zones. Retrieved from http://www.epa.gov/radon/zonemap.html

Slide 10

This map is based on actual indoor radon screening results that are tracked by the Wisconsin Department of Health Services. The results are reported by companies that sell radon detectors in Wisconsin (Wisconsin Department of Health Services, 2011). The map shows percentages of homes that test above 4 pCi/L: again, this is at or above the level of radon exposure that has been shown to cause lung cancer. Notice the large dark blue section in the middle of the state, with smaller pockets or purple. The dark blue signifies that 20-40 % of homes tested in that area have radon levels above 4 pCi/L; in the purple areas, over 40% of homes tested have radon levels above 4 pCi/L; the red areas show where 10-20 % of homes tested have radon levels above 4 pCi/L (Wisconsin Department of Health Services, 2011). These three colors show where the highest indoor radon levels were measured in the state. If we go back to the previous slide [go back to slide 9] we see that the areas of the state that tested highest for radon closely match the red zone 1 counties identified by the EPA. Notice that red counties in the middle of the state [go back to slide 10] match up with the large dark blue and purple area. This is where we live! Let’s take a closer look at Wood County.   Reference   Wisconsin Department of Health Services [WDHS]. (2011a). Estimated percent of homes > 4 pCi/L [Map]. Retrieved from http://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/radiation/radon/FinalEstPercentRadon.htm

Slide 11

This map was created by Kate Carlson, an Environmental Health Specialist with the Wood County Health Department. Kate is also the Radon Specialist for Wood County. Kate began mapping radon test results in Wood County beginning in 2007, and this maps shows the results through 2011. The green dots represent test results showing radon levels below 4 pCi/L; the blue dots represent test results showing radon levels between 4 and 7.9 pCi/L; and the red dots represent test results showing radon levels between 8 and 20 pCi/L; the yellow stars represent test results showing radon levels above 20 pCi/L (Carlson, 2011). Again, radon levels at or above 4 pCi/L have been shown to increase the risk for lung cancer.   The goal of the Wood County Health Department is to have 100% of homes tested for radon; yet, in a county with 32,126 households, only 673 radon test kits were used in the last 5 years; but of those tested, 36% showed radon levels over 4 pCi/L (K. Carlson, personal communication, January 10, 2013). More people should be testing for radon levels in their homes.   Now let’s zoom into the city of Marshfield specifically.   Reference   Carlson, K. (2011). Radon results by municipality: Wood County, Wisconsin [Map]. Wood County Health Department.

Slide 12

The radon screening results for homes in and around Marshfield, between 2007 and 2011, show that 18 homes tested for radon levels between 4 and 7.9 pCi/L; 12 homes tested for radon levels between 8 and 20 pCi/L; and at least one home tested at above 20 pCi/L (Carlson, 2011).   Not shown on this map are the 2012 radon screen results: In 2012, 11 additional homes tested for radon levels above 4 pCi/L (K. Carlson, personal communication, January 10, 2013).   This means that high levels of radon can be found in homes in and around Marshfield. But not enough homes are tested.   So how do you get your home tested for radon?   Reference   Carlson, K. (2011). Radon results by municipality: Wood County, Wisconsin [Map]. Wood County Health Department.

Slide 13

Before we answer that question, let’s quickly review what radon is and how it gets into our homes in the first place.   Remember, radon is a gas that comes from the breakdown of uranium, which is found naturally in rocks, soil, and groundwater (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2010). Radon can get into your home from the ground through cracks and other holes in your home’s walls and foundation (Environmental Protection Agency [EPA], 2012a). Radon can come in through open doors and windows as well; It can also seep in through floor drains and sumps, and because radon can also be found in groundwater, it can enter your home through a well (EPA, 2012a). Once radon gets into your home, it can continue to build up (EPA, 2012a). This can happen in any home, new or old, and even in homes that do not have basements (EPA, 2012a).   References   Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC]. (2010). Radon in the home. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/nceh/radiation/brochure/profile_radon.htm   U.S. Environmental Protection Agency [EPA]. (2012a). A citizen’s guide to radon: The guide to protecting yourself and your family from radon. Washington D.C.: National Service Center for Environmental Publications. Retrieved from http://www.epa.gov/radon/pdfs/citizensguide.pdf

Slide 14

Testing is the only way to know to know if there is radon in your home and if the level is safe for you and your family (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency [EPA], 2012a). Testing is inexpensive and easy to: Short-term testing is quick and it's something you can do yourself (EPA, 2012a). But if you are unsure about how to test, there is help available, and I'll explain those resources at the end of this presentation.   Reference   U.S. Environmental Protection Agency [EPA]. (2012a). A citizen’s guide to radon: The guide to protecting yourself and your family from radon. Washington D.C.: National Service Center for Environmental Publications. Retrieved from http://www.epa.gov/radon/pdfs/citizensguide.pdf

Slide 15

There are two types of radon testing: short-term and long-term testing. Short-term testing is fastest: it measures radon in your home over 2 to 90 days. It gives you a “snapshot” of the radon level in your home for the time you are collecting the test sample, but since radon levels vary throughout the year, radon is likely to be highest during summer months when windows are open and the ground is not frozen. But a short-term test will not measure you home's year-round average (Environmental Protection Agency [EPA], 2012a). Long-term testing measures radon in your home over 90 days and up to a year. It takes longer to collect the sample, obviously, but long-term testing can determine your home’s year-round average when it collects air samples during times of both high and low radon levels (EPA, 2012a). Both types of test collect air samples in your home: you need to mail the kit to a lab or return it to your local health department for analysis, and the results are returned to you, sometimes within a few days or up to a week (EPA, 2012a).   Reference   U.S. Environmental Protection Agency [EPA]. (2012a). A citizen’s guide to radon: The guide to protecting yourself and your family from radon. Washington D.C.: National Service Center for Environmental Publications. Retrieved from http://www.epa.gov/radon/pdfs/citizensguide.pdf

Slide 16

If you haven’t tested for radon before, you should use a short-term test. But no matter what type of test you use, the first step is deciding the best place to collect air samples. The rule is to test the air on the lowest part of the house, which is usually the basement. This is especially important if you have a finished basement or a room such as an office, family room, or even a laundry room. But if you only use the basement for storage and no one spends much time there, then you should use the test to sample the air on the first floor of your home. If you plan to finish part of your basement and use it more often in the future, then you should test in your basement (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency [EPA], 2012a). There are different types of radon testing kits, so it is important to follow the specific directions provided with your kit. Collect the air sample following the directions, and then, depending on the type of kit you used and where you got it from, either mail in the sample in the provided envelope, or drop off the sample at your local county health department office. Your sample will be sent to a lab for analysis, and the results to be mailed back to you within a few days to a week. Some testing kits include a tracking number that allows you to check for your test results online.   Reference   U.S. Environmental Protection Agency [EPA]. (2012a). A citizen’s guide to radon: The guide to protecting yourself and your family from radon. Washington D.C.: National Service Center for Environmental Publications. Retrieved from http://www.epa.gov/radon/pdfs/citizensguide.pdf

Slide 17

You can buy radon test kits at some hardware stores and other places, and you can even buy them online (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency [EPA], 2012a). These are examples of ones that are available in hardware and retail stores in the Marshfield area. Notice the difference in price and whether lab processing fees are included.   Reference   U.S. Environmental Protection Agency [EPA]. (2012a). A citizen’s guide to radon: The guide to protecting yourself and your family from radon. Washington D.C.: National Service Center for Environmental Publications. Retrieved from http://www.epa.gov/radon/pdfs/citizensguide.pdf

Slide 18

This is an example of a radon testing kit available from the Wood County Health Department. Similar kits are available from the City Clerk’s office in the Marshfield City Hall building for $10.00, which includes the lab processing fee (K. Carlson, personal communication, January 10, 2013).

Slide 19

As I mentioned earlier, the EPA recommends that you start with a short-term test; it should be placed on the lowest level of your home where you spend time, nd it should be left there for at least 48 hours (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency [EPA], 2012a). If results are below 4 pCi/L, you should test again in a couple months to confirm that the radon level in your home is still low (EPA, 2012a). If results are between 4 and 8 pCi/L, you have the choice to test again using either a short-term or long-term kit; however, the higher the results of the first test, the sooner you should conduct a second test to check for accuracy (EPA, 2012a). But if the results of your first short-term test are over 8 pCi/L, you should test again right away with another short-term test to confirm results (EPA, 2012a).   So, you have conducted two radon tests, and both tests show that the radon level in your home is above 4 pCi/L, now what? The answer is “radon mitigation.”   Reference   U.S. Environmental Protection Agency [EPA]. (2012a). A citizen’s guide to radon: The guide to protecting yourself and your family from radon. Washington D.C.: National Service Center for Environmental Publications. Retrieved from http://www.epa.gov/radon/pdfs/citizensguide.pdf

Slide 20

Mitigation means using techniques that have been proven to reduce radon levels in homes. Before we get too specific, let’s discuss a few “mitigation myths.”   First, homes with radon problems cannot be fixed. This is not true: there are several things that can be done, and we will cover those in a minute. Once your home has been tested and you find out that radon levels are higher than recommended, there are several things you can do. If you’re handy with tools and think you can fix the problem yourself, there are resources to help you learn what to do and how to install a radon mitigation system the right way. But the EPA strongly recommends that you consult with a certified radon mitigation contractor. We’ll talk more about that in a few minutes. But depending on the type of home you have, and based on testing of the soil around your home, a certified radon mitigation contractor can help you determine the best way to lower radon levels in your home (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency [EPA], 2010).   Second myth: I've been living in my home for a long time so fixing a problem now doesn’t make much sense. The truth is, it makes a lot of sense to reduce radon levels in your home. You will lower your risk of lung cancer even if radon has been in your home for a long time already. In fact, the sooner you fix the problem, the better (EPA, 2010).   Third myth: Just open a window! You can improve ventilation in your home by opening windows and doors, and this can lower radon levels. But this is only a temporary fix: once windows, doors and vents are closed, it only takes a few hours for radon levels to begin building back up again (EPA, 2010).   Fourth myth: Radon mitigation is very expensive. Actually, this is not true. According to local contractors who do this type of work, the average cost is around $1,200. But the cost could be less or more depending on your home and the type of radon mitigation system used. You can always get estimates from one or more certified radon mitigation contractors before you decide (EPA, 2010). And if you think fixing a radon problem in your home is not worth the cost, think back to the lung cancer statistics we talked about at the beginning of this presentation!   Reference   U.S. Environmental Protection Agency [EPA]. (2010). Consumer's Guide to Radon Reduction. Washington D.C.: National Service Center for Environmental Publications. Retrieved from http://www.epa.gov/radon/pdfs/consguid.pdf

Slide 21

Because most homes in central Wisconsin have basements, the radon mitigation system used most often here is the sub-slab depressurization system. It uses a suction pipe to take out radon gas from the ground under your home and uses a fan to vent it outside the home (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency [EPA], 2010). Here is a diagram showing the basic principles behind this system: This example shows the suction pipe going through the basement floor and then exiting the side of the house and ground level with an exterior ventilation pipe leading past the roof of the house; a fan on the exterior of the house draws the radon gas out of the ground and forces it up the ventilation pipe (New York State Department of Health, 2006). The photos show how this type of system looks on the outside of your house (Wisconsin Radon & Environmental, 2013).   References   New York State Department of Health. (2006). Guidance for evaluating soil vapor intrusion in the State of New York. Retrieved from http://www.health.ny.gov/environmental/investigations/soil_gas/svi_guidance/docs/svi_main.pdf   U.S. Environmental Protection Agency [EPA]. (2010). Consumer's Guide to Radon Reduction. Washington D.C.: National Service Center for Environmental Publications. Retrieved from http://www.epa.gov/radon/pdfs/consguid.pdf   Wisconsin Radon & Environmental, LLC. ( 2013). Photo of radon mitigation system. Retrieved from http://www.wisconsinradon.org/

Slide 22

Of course, installing such a system requires some holes, one in the basement floor, and another leading to the exterior of the home. If you do not want the ventilation pipe on the exterior of your home, it can be hidden inside, and most people choosing this option will run the ventilation pipe through a closet where is not seen. The ventilation pipe exits the house through the attic and a hole in the roof. The fan can be placed in the attic to reduce noise. If you home as a sump pump, often that hole can be used for the suction pipe, and a special cap is used over the sump. These photos are courtesy of Wisconsin Radon & Environmental (used with permission).   While this is the most common radon mitigation method used in this area, there are other ways to lower radon gas levels in a home.   Reference   Wisconsin Radon & Environmental, LLC. ( 2013). Photos of radon mitigation systems. Retrieved from http://www.wisconsinradon.org/

Slide 23

Since we know that radon gas usually enters a home through the ground, it makes sense to patch and seal any cracks, holes or other openings in and around your home’s foundation. But according to the EPA, this is not enough to lower radon levels in a home. It can be hard to find all the cracks and other places where radon is getting in, and over time, new cracks can develop (EPA, 2010).Home or room pressurization is a method that uses a fan to bring clean air into a basement, increasing the pressure so that radon from the outside cannot get in. Depending on how your home is constructed, this method may not be very effective. It is also not a good choice for the Midwest climate, as the system introduces a lot of outdoor air into the home which can increase moisture and also make it more expensive to heat your home in the winter. This method should only be considered if the sub-slab depressurization system previously discussed cannot be used in your home (EPA, 2010).   A heat recovery ventilator can be installed to increase ventilation in your home, and this has been shown to lower radon levels as well. Heated or cooled air that is exhausted by the ventilation system is then used to warm or cool the incoming air. This type of system works best for only basements, and it will likely cost more to heat and cool a house with this type of system (EPA, 2010).   Again, in this area, the most common—and most effective—radon mitigation system is the sub-slab depressurization system.   Reference   U.S. Environmental Protection Agency [EPA]. (2010). Consumer's Guide to Radon Reduction. Washington D.C.: National Service Center for Environmental Publications. Retrieved from http://www.epa.gov/radon/pdfs/consguid.pdf

Slide 24

If you have questions about radon testing and especially radon mitigation, I suggest contacting two local experts who would be happy to help you. The first is Kate Carlson with the Wood County Health Department. Kate is also the Radon Specialist for Wood County. You can contact her by phone, or you can email through the Wood County Health Department website. In the Marshfield area, you can also contact Ken Weber. Ken is a radon mitigation contractor certified through the National Environmental Health Association’s Radon Proficiency Program.

Slide 25

Now let's just quickly recap before we finish: Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer, responsible for about 21,000 deaths each year; Radon is a gas that is commonly found in rocks and soil, and it is also found in outdoor and indoor air; Radon can enter buildings and build up (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2010); Testing the air in your home is the only way to know if you have high levels of radon gas in your home; and Radon problems can be fixed (Environmental Protection Agency, 2012a).   References   Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC]. (2010). Radon in the home. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/nceh/radiation/brochure/profile_radon.htm   U.S. Environmental Protection Agency [EPA]. (2012a). A citizen’s guide to radon: The guide to protecting yourself and your family from radon. Washington D.C.: National Service Center for Environmental Publications. Retrieved from http://www.epa.gov/radon/pdfs/citizensguide.pdf

Slide 26

Much of the information in the presentation was adapted from two EPA publications: A citizen’s guide to radon and the Consumer's guide to radon reduction. Both of these, along with other publications, can be ordered or downloaded for free from the EPA website.

Slide 27

If you’d rather talk to someone rather than search for information and answers to your questions online, there are a number of radon hotlines, including one to help you order radon testing kits, and others to help answer general questions about radon and how you can fix radon problems in your home.

Slide 28

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services conducts radon research and education, and manages a number of Radon Information Centers throughout the state. You can get more information and order radon test kits, andthey will connect you to certified radon experts in your area. The Radon Information Center serving Wood and Marathon counties is located in the Marathon County Health Department.

Slide 29

And finally, two additional resources: Radon Information for Wisconsin is a website with more information about radon, radon testing and mitigation. The site is part of the Wisconsin Department of Health Services. And of course you can also visit the Wood County Health Department website for more information.

Slide 30

At this time I’ll try to answer any questions you may have ...Thank you for coming, and have a great day!

Slide 1

Doug Seubert Graduate Student Walden University PUBH - 8165 – 2 Environmental Health January 27, 2013 Is there radon in your home? What is radon, How to test for it, and Why this is important

Slide 2

Lung cancer: leading cause 2 (U.S. Cancer Statistics Working Group, 2013; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2010) Over 7,000 chemicals You can see it, smell it, taste it, feel it Causes 80-90% of all lung cancers Causes about 443,000 deaths each year

Slide 3

Lung cancer: second leading cause 3 A naturally occurring radioactive gas Can’t see it, smell it, taste it, feel it Second leading cause of lung cancer Causes more than 21,000 lung cancer deaths each year (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2010)

Slide 4

4 A serious problem (Environmental Protection Agency, 2012a)

Slide 5

What is radon? 5 Radon is a gas Radon comes from the breakdown of uranium Radon is found in outdoor and indoor air Radon can enter buildings Radon can collect at higher levels Radon can cause health problems, including lung cancer (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2010)

Slide 6

Radon levels 6 (Environmental Protection Agency, 2012a, 2012b) The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Measures radon levels in outdoor and indoor air Makes recommendations for public safety The average concentration of radon in outdoor air is .4 pCi/L The average concentration of radon in indoor air is about 1.3 pCi/L The EPA believes that no level of radon is safe

Slide 7

Radon levels 7 Based on research, the EPA defines an action level for radon at 4 pCi/L The EPA measures and maps radon levels using three zones: (Environmental Protection Agency, 2012b)

Slide 8

(Environmental Protection Agency, 2012b) 8

Slide 9

Radon in Wisconsin 9 Zone 1 counties (in red) have predicted indoor radon levels over 4 pCi/L Zone 2 counties (in orange) have predicted indoor radon levels between 2 and 4 pCi/L (Environmental Protection Agency, 2012b)

Slide 10

Radon in Wisconsin 10 Main floor year averages of radon % of homes over 4 pCi/L (Wisconsin Department of Health Services, 2011a)

Slide 11

11 (Carlson, 2011) Radon in Wood County

Slide 12

12 Radon in Marshfield (Carlson, 2011)

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13 How radon gets in (Environmental Protection Agency, 2012a)

Slide 14

Testing for radon 14 Testing is the only way to know Testing is inexpensive and easy Short-term testing is quick You can do it yourself There is help available (Environmental Protection Agency, 2012a)

Slide 15

Testing for radon 15 Short term testing Measures radon in your home over 2 to 90 days “Snapshot” of radon level Long term testing Measures radon in your home over 90 days Can determine your home’s year-round average (Environmental Protection Agency, 2012a)

Slide 16

Testing for radon 16 Start with a short-term test Place in lowest “livable” floor of your home Follow directions provided with your kit Collect sample and mail in/drop off for analysis Wait for results to be mailed back to you (or check online) (Environmental Protection Agency, 2012a)

Slide 17

Testing kits 17 2 short-term tests Kit cost: $10 Lab cost: $30 1 short-term test Kit cost: $15 Lab cost: $0 1 short-term test Kit cost: $13 Lab cost: $0 1 long-term test Kit cost: $27 Lab cost: $0

Slide 18

Testing kits 18

Slide 19

Start with a short-term test If results are below 4 pCi/L Test again in a couple months to confirm radon level is still low If results are between 4 and 8 pCi/L Test again with either a short-term or long-term kit If results are over 8 pCi/L Test again right away with another short-term test Test results 19 (Environmental Protection Agency, 2012a)

Slide 20

Mitigation myths 20 Homes with radon problems can't be fixed I've lived in my home for so long, it doesn't make sense to take action now Just open a window for more ventilation Radon mitigation is expensive (Environmental Protection Agency, 2010)

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21 Radon mitigation (New York State Department of Health, 2006) (Wisconsin Radon & Environmental, 2013)

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Radon mitigation 22 (Wisconsin Radon & Environmental, 2013)

Slide 23

Radon mitigation 23 Sealing cracks and openings Home or room pressurization Heat Recovery Ventilator (Environmental Protection Agency, 2010)

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Radon mitigation 24 In Wood County Kate Carlson, Wood County Health Department (715) 421-8911 In the Marshfield area: Ken Weber National Environmental Health Association (NEHA) National Radon Proficiency Program (NRPP) (715) 305-4356

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Radon recap 25 (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2010; Environmental Protection Agency, 2012a) Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer, killing about 20,000 people each year Radon is a gas that comes from the breakdown of uranium, and it is found in outdoor and indoor air Radon can enter buildings and collect at higher levels Testing is the only way to know if radon is in your home Radon problems can be fixed

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Get more information 26 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) http://www.epa.gov/radon/

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Radon hotlines 27 1-800-SOS-RADON (767-7236) Purchase radon test kits by phone 1-800-55-RADON (557-2366) Get live help for your radon questions 1-800-644-6999 Information on fixing or reducing the radon level in your home (Environmental Protection Agency, 2012a)

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Get more information 28 Regional Radon Information Center Serving Wood and Marathon Counties Michelle Schwoch Michelle.Schwoch@co.marathon.wi.us Sara Brown Sara.Brown@co.marathon.wi.us Marathon County Health Department 1200 Lake View Drive, Room 200 Wausau, WI 54403-6797 Phone: 715-261-1900

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Get more information 29 Wisconsin Department of Health Services Radon Information for Wisconsin http://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/radiation/radon/index.htm Wood County Health Department http://www.co.wood.wi.us/Departments/Health/

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30 Questions…

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Acknowledgements 31 Special thanks to Kate Carlson, Environmental Health Specialist with the Wood County Health Department, and Radon Specialist for Wood County, for providing radon testing data for Wood County. The map on slides 11 and 12 was provided by Kate Carlson, and used with permission. The graphic of the sub-slab depressurization system was provided by the New York State Department of Health, and used with permission. The photos of radon mitigation systems on slides 21 and 22 were provided by Wisconsin Radon & Environmental, and used with permission. All other photos, maps, and images were taken from governmental websites or other sources considered to be in the public domain.

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References 32 Carlson, K. (2011). Radon results by municipality: Wood County, Wisconsin [Map]. Wood County Health Department. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC]. (2011). Chemicals in tobacco smoke. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/ data_statistics/sgr/2010/consumer_booklet/chemicals_smoke/ index.htm Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC]. (2010). Radon in the home. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/nceh/radiation/ brochure/profile_radon.htm New York State Department of Health. (2006). Guidance for evaluating soil vapor intrusion in the State of New York. Retrieved from http://www.health.ny.gov/environmental/investigations/ soil_gas/svi_guidance/docs/svi_main.pdf

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References 33 U.S. Cancer Statistics Working Group. (2013). United States Cancer Statistics: 1999–2009 Incidence and Mortality Web-based Report. Atlanta (GA): Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and National Cancer Institute. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/uscs U.S. Environmental Protection Agency [EPA]. (2012a). A citizen’s guide to radon: The guide to protecting yourself and your family from radon. Washington D.C.: National Service Center for Environmental Publications. Retrieved from http://www.epa.gov/ radon/pdfs/citizensguide.pdf U.S. Environmental Protection Agency [EPA]. (2012b). EPA Map of Radon Zones. Retrieved from http://www.epa.gov/radon/ zonemap.html

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References 34 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency [EPA]. (2011). Protecting people and families from radon: A federal action plan for saving lives. Retrieved from http://www.epa.gov/radon/pdfs/Federal_ Radon_Action_Plan.pdf U.S. Environmental Protection Agency [EPA]. (2010). Consumer's Guide to Radon Reduction. Washington D.C.: National Service Center for Environmental Publications. Retrieved from http://www.epa.gov Wisconsin Department of Health Services [WDHS]. (2011a). Estimated percent of homes > 4 pCi/L [Map]. Retrieved from http://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/radiation/radon/FinalEstPercent Radon.htm Wisconsin Radon & Environmental, LLC. ( 2013). Photos of radon mitigation systems. Retrieved from http://www.wisconsinradon.org

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Contact information 35 Doug Seubert Health Communications Specialist Advantage Consulting Services, LLC Marshfield, WI Graduate Student PhD in Public Health, Walden University Email: doug.seubert@waldenu.edu Phone: (715) 383-0897

Summary: This presentation, “Is there radon in your home?” was developed for a service learning project. [I received a score of 100 out of a possible 100 points for this project, so the information in this presentation has been reviewed and determined to be accurate.] While the specific information is geared toward residents living in Wood County, Wisconsin, the general information can be reused in any presentation (just replace the location-specific slides with information about your area). The rest of the information, including photos, are either in the public domain, or permission has been given for multiple use and dissemination (see acknowledgement slide). All references have been provided in APA format. Feel free to reuse and adapt this presentation to meet your needs. Contact me if you have any questions.

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