National Radon Action Month: Start the Year off Right
January is dedicated as National Radon Action Month throughout the United States to promote awareness of the presence and effects of Radon. Radon is a naturally-occurring, radioactive gas. It can’t be seen, smelled or tasted, but could be present in our homes and buildings. Radon exposure to humans is identified as a leading cause of lung cancer. According to an estimate, 21,000 Americans die each year due to lung cancer caused by radon exposure, out of which 2,900 were identified as nonsmokers.
Radon can have a big impact on indoor air quality. Exposure to radon on occupants can be prevented. In fact, the EPA and the U.S. Surgeon General urge all Americans to protect their health by testing their homes, schools and other buildings for radon. Ideally, no radon gas in homes should be considered a safe level. Any level of exposure to radon gas has some risk of causing lung cancer. As a matter of fact, lower concentrations of radon gas in dwellings lessens the chances of lung cancer. Depending on the geographical location, the level of radon in outside air could be as high as 0.75 pCi/L (picoCurie per liter); however, national levels of radon outside the home are estimated at 0.4pCi/L. The United States Environmental Protection Agency has set an action level of 4 pCi/L; corrective measures are recommended for anything at or above this level to reduce exposure to radon. The World Health Organization recommends adopting a reference level of 2.7 pCi/L (100Bq/m3).
There are two common methods for radon testing an indoor environment. They are referred to as “passive” and “active” methods. In passive methods, radon gas is collected by utilizing a device containing activated charcoal. The collected sample is analyzed in a laboratory to provide results. In other common passive methods, an alpha tracking device is used that has a small strip of special plastic that is “marked” when hit by radon’s alpha particles that are later counted in a laboratory to provide results. “Active” methods include a CRM (continuous radon monitor). CRMs come in various models by different manufacturers. Both methods have their advantages and limitations. The most comprehensive difference between the passive and active radon testing methods are the cost and the level of expertise required for proper operation.
A simple and inexpensive radon test can give you the information you need in order to safeguard the health risks associated with the radon gas exposure perpetuating in your surroundings.
National Radon Action Month will continue to be a valuable way to educate and raise awareness for this gas that can pose silent health risks.
Environmental Diagnostics Laboratory (EDLab):
The Environmental Diagnostics Laboratory (EDLab) (established in 1992) at Pure Air Control Services (PACS) is an environmental lab offering complete and comprehensive indoor environmental microbiology laboratory services. They include: microbiology, aerobiology, chemistry, allergen assays and microscopy designed to meet all your indoor air needs. EDLab supports IAQ investigations by assisting with strategic sampling plan development and supplying media collection equipment while performing a wide range of environmental analyses.
For more information on EDLab at Pure Air Services, Inc. please contact Dr. Rajiv Sahay, CIAQP, FIAS, at (800) 422-7873 x 304, or visit www.edlab.org