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Radon News

Radon as a Health Risk – WHO report

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The WHO’s latest report ‘Guidelines on Housing and Health’ describes how people’s housing and health are affected by a variety of factors. The report describes radon, among other factors, as a health risk. The report draws attention to the fact that radon should be regarded as a carcinogen on a par with tobacco smoke.

The harmful effects of radon are emphasised by, among other things, the WHO wanting to reduce the reference level for radon in home environments to 100 Bq/m³. That is one-third of the reference level established in Directive 2013/59/EURATOM, which is 300 Bq/m³.

 Radon Causes Lung Cancer

Radon as a health risk is a global problem that each year is estimated to cause around 230,000 cases of lung cancer, which has a high mortality rate. Radonova’s measurement expert José-Luis Gutiérrez Villanueva comments on the latest WHO report:

“It is important that radon is not singled out but regarded as one pollutant among many. In this respect, the WHO’s report is clear and important. The report describes the harmful effects of radon, as well as how preventive measures can be used to reduce harmful radon levels. Bearing in mind the fact that radon causes a very high number of lung cancer cases, it is vital to speak plainly about this issue.

“While radon is a global problem, the WHO’s report makes it clear that radon needs to be tackled at national level. In order to be effective, each country needs a well-developed programme that can be adapted to the circumstances in each case.”

José-Luis Gutiérrez Villanueva has worked on radon issues for the last 15 years. He wrote his PhD on ‘Radon concentrations in soil, air and water in a granitic area: instrumental development and measurements’ (University of Valladolid, 2008), and is an expert in areas including data analysis and different ways of measuring radon. As secretary of the European Radon Association, José-Luis also has extensive experience of international work with radon.

More information and the report ‘Guidelines on Housing and Health’ are available here»

FAQs about radon and radon measurement: https://radonova.com/information/about-radon/faq/

USA Gold Medalist Beats Radon-Induced Lung Cancer

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In 2016, Rachael Drazan-Malmberg woke up with pain in her ribs. She initially attributed the pain to working out, however after the pain persisted she sought medical attention.

What she believed “wasn’t going to be anything” revealed a diagnosis of lung cancer that had even already spread to her brain. After the doctors told her the cancer was unusual and caused by a genetic mutation versus being inherited, Rachael and her husband tested their home for radon gas. Immediately they installed a mitigation system and their situation prompted 3 of their neighbors to test and mitigate as well, after finding high levels of radon gas.

Not sparing any time, Rachael had the doctors “pull the goalie” and attack the cancer with everything they had. After hours and hours of radiation treatment the tumor in her lung was small enough to be removed. Then, with the help of additional medications, she was able to eliminate her brain tumor as well.

Just two years after her diagnosis, Rachael was able to compete in the 2018 Olympics and help the Team USA Women’s Hockey Team take home the gold medal.

Read the Full Article Here!

Vintage Illuminated Watches, Clocks and Dials Emitting Radon

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In the first decade of the 20th century, scientists developed a way to mix radium 226 with paint to created ‘radioluminescent paint’. Everyone was fascinated by this discovery leading to the application of the paint to clocks, telephones, and even airplane instrumentation panels, enabling the devices to be seen in the dark.

However the new found idea was not without its issues, and by 1925 a group of radium painters, later referred to as the Radium Girls, sued their employer over health issues believed to be stemming from the ingestion of radium through a practice called ‘pointing’ their brushes. Simply put they would lick the ends of the brushes to refine the bristles into a point, subsequently ingesting radium remnants from the brush. As a result, by 1930 ‘pointing’ brushes was no longer done by mouth and incidences of malignancy due to radium was down to zero by 1950. This lead most people to believe that radium was not an issue, unless of course you consumed it.

Fast forward  60 years – researchers from the University of Northampton understand that radium decays into radon gas, so could “vintage” clocks, watches, phones, etc., previously coated in radium paint influence radon gas levels as the radium naturally decays?

The study was performed in a small bedroom and consisted of measuring the radon gas level for a baseline, then adding 30 radium dial watches to the room to see how much the radon level would change, if at all. Upon retesting it was discovered that the room’s radon level rose to 134 times the EPA recommended action level.

In the first of its kind study, this new data indicates a previously unconsidered risk to owning, collecting, and storing radium dial watches or other items that were typically coated in radium-infused paint.

Read the Original Article Here
Link to University of Northampton's Report

Simon Fraser University Radon Study

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Anne-Marie Nicol, a public health researcher and associate professor at Simon Fraser University is creating awareness to get residents of British Columbia testing their homes for radon gas.

Radon gas is “the worst thing you’ve never heard of” says Nicol, but “nobody’s talking about it. How are people supposed to know?” Residents of the North Shore in cities like North Vancouver, West Vancouver, Whistler, Pemberton, Squamish, the Sunshine Coast and the Gulf Islands are encouraged to test as previous reported radon test performed in and around these areas have often times indicated radon gas levels 5 times Canada’s guideline for indoor radon (200 bq/m³).

Projects currently underway spearheaded by Anne-Marie are aimed at gathering more data from potential at-risk areas and at changing public complacency to a serious health risk.

Additional Information About the Study and the Full Article Can Be Read Here!

Congrats to the 2018 IL Radon Awareness Poster Winners!

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Congratulations to the winners of the Illinois Poster Contest for Radon Awareness. The American Lung Association in Illinois holds the contest every year with help from the U.S. EPA and the Illinois Emergency Management Agency to help spread the awareness of radon gas. Check out the winning posters below, and don’t forget to test your home today for radon gas!

1st Place: Lucy C. from Evanston, IL

2nd Place: Kimberly G. from Arenzville, IL

3rd Place: Lila M. from Vienna, IL

First Radon Cause of Death Classification in North Dakota

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After moving into a new home in Casselton, North Dakota, Judith Antoine began suffering from poor health. Shortly after receiving a chest X-ray, Judith was diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis, scarring of the lungs. With only a small piece of her lungs working, Judith passed away in November of 2017.

Having given up smoking nearly 30 years prior to her death, her children wanted to know how and why she developed pulmonary fibrosis. Judith’s son Andrew suspected a form of environmental exposure and decided to perform a radon test on the home. When the results of the test were 234 pCi/l, 58 times the recommended indoor level, Andrew “…about fell over” .

Judith’s family is convinced that chronic exposure to radon killed their mother. Dr. Brent Hella, Judiths’s physician, agrees and even went as far as to list her cause of death as pulmonary fibrosis as a consequence of “radon toxicity”. It is believed this is the first classification of radon toxicity on a death certificate in the state of North Dakota.