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Radon Education

Radon Maps Do Not Show Radon Levels in a Specific Building

By | Radon Education | No Comments

‘Radon maps’ is a term that frequently crops up when talking about the risk of radon. A radon map provides a general picture of the areas where there is a risk of high radon levels. These maps are available at both national and regional levels. However, the problem with a radon map is the false sense of security it can give regarding a specific building.

Despite this, Radonova is seeing a growing number of cases where private individuals and workplaces are using radon maps to try to determine the radon level in their specific indoor environment.

“Radon maps are designed to be used when you want a more general geographic breakdown of low-risk and high-risk zones. It is, however, very difficult to draw any reliable conclusions from these about radon levels inside a particular building,” comments Bill Rounds, President at Radonova.

“The relevant authorities and experts often have good knowledge of the applications for which radon maps can be used. Problems tend to arise when the general public draw conclusions from the maps about radon levels in their own home.”

This is why radon maps do not show radon levels in a specific building.

Below are some of the reasons why radon maps are not a reliable tool for determining radon levels in a specific building.

Radon maps do not show local variations

When producing a radon map, very few measurements are performed in a specific area. Radon levels can vary significantly in such a large area and even between buildings on the same street. Indoor radon levels largely depend on the building’s construction and the air permeability of the soil, which can vary locally.

There is no standard for the production of radon maps

To produce a radon map, measurement data is either obtained by measuring ground radon levels or using data from indoor measurements in the area. With ground radon measurements, there are no clear links between the level of radon in the ground and indoor radon levels. There is certainly an increased risk with high ground radon levels, but other factors, such as construction technology, can have a greater impact.

However, if the radon map is based on indoor measurements, then the results are heavily dependent on the type of building structure where the measurement was recorded. This in turn need not be relevant in any way for another building close by.

Radon can be emitted by building materials

Radon maps use an accumulative average to represent an area’s general risk and cannot account for individual factors.  For example, building materials like blue lightweight concrete used in foundations and aesthetic upgrades that incorporate natural stone emit radon and has the potential to impact results.  Because this can cause outliers in “low” radon areas, it’s important to measure each building regardless of its location on a radon map.

The maps can be generated from old data

Measured radon levels are to some extent ‘perishable’. A measurement taken from a few years ago, for example, is no longer reliable. A lot may have happened over the years in and around the building in question to change radon levels. Modernizations, changes to ventilation, and groundwork are just a few examples of factors that can have a major impact on indoor radon levels.

“With this in mind, you shouldn’t rely on radon maps if you want to know what the radon levels are in a specific building. Even if you live in an area that is defined on the radon map as a low-risk zone, there may still be very high radon levels indoors. Given that radon, after smoking, is the most common cause of lung cancer, there is every reason not to rely on this type of map when trying to determine radon levels in the home and at workplaces,” concludes Bill Rounds.

Measure in the building

The only way to get a reliable picture of radon levels in indoor air is to measure them. This can be done in an affordable manner using radon detectors. Radon maps still have a role to play, however, as they can provide the authorities with an overview that makes it easier to prioritize inspection efforts.

For more information on radon and radon measurement visit www.radonova.com.
For more information, please contact Bill Rounds, President of Radonova
Phone: +1.331.814.2201, E-mail: bill.rounds@radonova.com

Radiation Pioneer – Marie Curie

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Marie Curie was born on November 7, 1867 in Warsaw, Poland. She was the youngest of 5 children and both of her parents were well known teachers. In 1891, Curie enrolled in physics, chemistry, and mathematics at the University of Paris.

Discovery of Polonium and Radium

Starting in 1896, Curie began running tests on uranium rays. She performed her tests using an electrometer. As a result, Curie would soon learn that uranium rays conduct electricity in the air around them. Thus, she hypothesized that radiation was not caused by interactions between atoms but from the atom itself. Curie’s findings were a crucial step in proving that atoms were divisible.

In 1898 Curie found two new elements. Polonium was the first and named for her home country Poland. Followed by Radium, named for the Latin word radius, meaning ray. Additionally, Curie coined the term “radioactivity”, due to the electrical contact between the new elements and the air around them.

In 1903, Curie was awarded a Nobel Prize in physics. She was the first woman to ever win a Nobel Prize. Shortly after, Curie took a job as physics chair at the University of Paris. She became the university’s first woman professor. In 1909, fearing that Curie would quit, the University of Paris helped Curie to create the Radium Institute. It was here that Curie was able to isolate radium. Furthermore, she defined an international standard for radioactive emissions named for her late husband, the curie.

Marie Curie was awarded a second Noble Prize in 1911. This time for chemistry and her discovery of polonium and radium. Curie was the first person to receive 2 Nobel Prizes. To this day she is still 1 of only 2 people to achieve this.

Death

Marie Curie passed away at the age of 66. The harmful effects of radiation were not known at this time. Thus, Curie had no idea the toll her studies were taking on her. Handling radium and performing x-rays during the war ultimately lead to her death. In 1995, her remains were moved to Parthenon in Paris. Curie became the first woman to be honored with interment in the Parthenon. As of 2015, 3 woman have had this honor.

To this day, Curie’s papers from 1890 are still considered to dangerous to handle. Therefore, they are held in special lead lined boxes. Due to their level of contamination, people wishing to read them must wear special protective clothing.

Radon and Alpha Track Tests

While studying radium, a gas was found emanating from the atom. Radon, became the fifth radioactive element discovered. Moreover, radon gas kept its radioactivity. Consequently, radon was given a Group 1 carcinogenic grade. Simply put, it is known that radon causes cancer..

Radonova manufactures alpha track radon tests. Devices are made of a plastic housing and a CR39 chip. Detectors are placed in homes, schools, and workplaces. Air containing radon enters the detector. Alpha particles leave the atom at a such a speed they leave tracks on the CR39.

Similarly, radon is inhaled in the air we breathe. Thus, particles will damage lung tissue when leaving the atom in your lungs. For that reason, radon is the highest leading cause of lung cancer among non-smokers.

University of Calgary Radon Study – Ted Talk

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Dr. Aaron Goodarzi is the head of the Evict Radon program through the University of Calgary. For the past few years they have provided radon test kits to Alberta residents for research pertaining to DNA damage and how that can cause and predict cancer.

Recently, Dr. Goodarzi gave an excellent Tedx talk on radon gas and his project. In a well delivered presentation he makes the dangers of living in a home with high radon levels very clear and easy to understand. Sometimes the bigger message of radon causing lung cancer is glossed over when scientists talk science to other scientists and the average resident or homeowner, the people most susceptible to this Class 1 carcinogen, often do not fully grasp the dangers or what exactly a high radon level means for them and their families.

Without pulling any punches on the severity of lung cancer, Dr. Goodarzi compellingly addresses radon in a manner digestible by everyone from the sharpest person in the room to the person hearing about radon gas for the first time.

More Information on the Study

Successful BC First Nations Radon Test Project with Assistance from ‘My Pages’

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Created in 2013, the First Nations Health Authority (FNHA) in British Columbia, is a first of its kind Indigenous-led health service delivery organization that works closely with federal and provincial partners to integrate health programs for “healthy, self-determining, and vibrant BC First Nations children, families, and communities.” With radon awareness steadily growing in British Columbia, FNHA decided to begin testing on-reserve homes and has completed the second phase of a residential radon monitoring project to gather data and create awareness within its reserve communities. Currently there is little information available about the impact of radon on health for on-reserve populations but many high radon risk factors are present in the communities including poorer housing conditions.

400 test kits were deployed through this program with over half being deployed directly in FNHA’s Interior Region. Utilizing Radonova’s proprietary RadOnline customer web portal (radonova.com/mypages), the project team achieved an astounding 92% response rate.  Reported results indicate that over 10% of the homes tested have elevated radon levels above Health Canada’s guideline of 200 Bq/m³.

This testing project was conducted with assistance from the Public Health Agency of Canada through the National Collaborating Centre for Environmental Health, with significant outreach performed by the Interior Health Authority’s Environmental Health Officer, Greg Baytalan, and truly made possible by the contributions of the First Nations communities and staff.

Read the First Nations Report Here

Radon Entry Points – Basement

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Below Grade Windows
Sump Pump
Cracks in Foundation Walls
Footing
Cracks in Concrete Slab
Floor Drains
Support Posts

Many homes have basement areas. Whether finished or not there is always a potential for radon to enter your home through the basement. Not all homes will have every radon entry point shown, but the image shows the most common ones. Any one of these entry points could contribute to a high radon gas level in the home.

Testing for radon is the only  way to know if your home has high levels of dangerous radon gas, a class A carcinogen that causes lung cancer.

Test Your Home Today!

Comparing Radon-Induced Lung Cancer Mortality Rates to Other Common Cancers

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This interesting graphic compares the EPA mortality rates of radon-induced lung cancer to some other well known cancers as documented in the National Cancer Institute’s SEER Report. While radon induced lung cancer accounts for only 14% of total lung cancer deaths, this is still a significant number of deaths as the graphic shows.

Radon Gas is directly responsible for more cancer deaths than many common cancer types.  Sadly, unlike most other cancers, the source and cause of radon induced lung cancer is easily avoidable. Lung cancer has one of the lowest survival rates of all cancers.

Testing your home for radon gas is easy to do, inexpensive, and just might save a life. 

Test. Fix. Save a Life.

Select one of Radonova’s accredited radon test kits below, and test TODAY.

 

Order a quickscreen (AC) 2-4 day test here! *fastest*
Order a Rapidos 10-30 day test here!*more reliable*
Order a Radtrak² 90+ day test here! *most accurate*

For this article and others from the EPA about the health risks of radon:

Visit the EPA's Heath Risk Website

A New Perspective on Radon Mapping

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Trinity College Dublin performed an indoor radon assessment on 32,000 residences and took a different approach with the findings. Instead of mapping areas based on radon concentration levels, they devised a map indicating ‘Radon Priority Areas’ based on the adverse health effects of radon. The color coding on the map relates to a number of lung cancer cases estimated for a specific area, based on area population and indoor radon levels.

Based on the assessment of homes in Ireland, areas within counties Dublin, Meath, Kildare, Wicklow, Wexford, Kilkenny, Cork, Kerry, Limerick, Clare and Galway are at risk for elevated levels of radon gas. Currently the EU uses the World Health Organization’s action level of 200 Bq/m³, and although some homes tested much higher and lower, typically the results ranged from 21 to 338 Bq/m³.

Approximately 280 of the 2,300 yearly lung cancer cases in Ireland are related to indoor radon exposure. That means indoor radon exposure accounts for over 12% of the most deadly types of cancer cases, lung cancer.

Read the Full Article Here

Radon Exposure and Children

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Do the risks associated with radon exposure differ between adults and children?

Lung size? Respiratory Rates? Proximity to the ground?

A lot of factors may contribute to the exposure children receive from radon gas versus adults. While basements make a great play area for kids, radon is a heavier gas that tends to accumulate in basements and or at the ground floor level. Many home daycare providers tend to convert basements to ‘classroom’ areas where kids learn and play, while daycare centers are usually 1 level ground floor buildings.

This article from the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health talks about radon exposures and the correlation to children developing lung cancer. Mentioned in the discussion was that “if a child lived in a home with very high radon concentrations for only a few years, the risk of developing lung cancer later in life could be equivalent to a lifetime exposure to moderate radon concentration”.

Read the Article Here!

If you would like to test your home or home daycare you can visit these links!

Rapidos Home Test   Rapidos Daycare Test