Presentation on theme: "Radon… Why Should I Care?"— Presentation transcript:
1 Radon… Why Should I Care? Brandy ToftAir Quality SpecialistLeech Lake Band of OjibweITEP IAQ Course March 2013
2 What Is Radon?Radon: odorless, colorless, toxic gas derived from decay of uranium in soilForm of radiation that attacks lung tissue# 1 cause of lung cancer among non-smokersEstimated 21,000 deaths year, risingSmoking increases your risk 4 times!Elevated indoor levels found in every state
3 Where Does Radon Come From? Caused by breakdown of Uranium in earth’s crust. Present in almost all rock, soil, and waterAmount of radon in soil depends on soil chemistry, which varies greatly from one house to nextMoves up through ground into atmosphere, where it can potentially enter your home through cracks/holes in foundation
4 Deliver majority of radiation dose to lungs Lead-210Polonium-214Bismuth-214Lead-214Polonium-218Radon-222b,ga,gLead-206Polonium-210Bismuth-21022 yrs4 day3 min27 min20 min0.2 ms5 day138 dayStableRadon Decay ProductsPo-218 and Po-214Deliver majority of radiation dose to lungs
5 Could My Home Have Radon? 1 in 15 homes in US are above 4 piC/L.ALL HOMES SHOULD BE TESTED FOR RADON! Regardless of location, zone, home design or if your neighbor tested.Are YOU at risk for lung cancer due to high radon levels? TEST YOUR HOME!
8 Examples of Entry Points Cracks in concrete slabsSpaces behind brick veneer walls that rest on uncapped hollow block foundationsPores and cracks in concrete blocksFloor-wall joints (cold joints)Exposed soil (eg., sump or crawl space)8
9 Examples of Entry Points (cont.) Weeping (drain) tile, if drained to an open sumpMortar jointsLoose fitting pipe penetrationsOpen tops of block wallsBuilding materials, such as brick, concrete, rockWell water
10 Radon: Lung Cancer Causing Gas Radon decays into radioactive alpha particles; articles are inhaled, deposited in lungsCauses physical damage to DNA, increasing potential for cancer
11 What Level of Rn is Considered Safe? No known safe level of radon9 to 12% of lung cancers are radon inducedEPA recommends homes with radon levels over 4 pCi/L be mitigatedNot a health-based standardBased on mitigation technologyWHO health based action level pCi/LMost mitigation systems can get the level of radon down to below 2 pCi/L.The best way to respond to a carcinogen is to keep peoples exposure as low as possible.
12 Health Effects Radiation is a carcinogen(cancer-causing agent) Most cancers do not appear untilmany years after radiation dose(~10-40 years)Radiation may also cause other health effectslinks to leukemia, stomach & liver cancerexposure during pregnancy potential linksGenetic defects in childrenDevelopmental disabilities
13 Health Effects (cont.) 2nd leading cause of lung cancer in US Estimated to cause 21,000 deaths annually*Second only to smokingLeading cause of lung cancer for non-smokers2,900 deaths annually* EPA Assessment of Risks from Radon in Homes (June 2003, EPA -402-R )
14 Prevention and mitigation methods reduce risk More to come….Adverse health effects of radon willincrease as more peopleAre exposed in tighter homesPopulation agesMedical-related radiation exposure increasesPrevention and mitigation methods reduce risk
15 Comparing Radon Related Cancer to Other Cancer Types “Stigma” of lung cancerLung Cancer (radon)20000Liver Cancer1800016000Brain Cancer14000Stomach Cancer12000Annual U.S. Cancer Deaths10000MelanomaHomicides 18,272; Atherosclerosis 15,279, HIV Infection 13, 426; Alzheimer’s Disease8000Oral Cancer60004000Gallbladder Cancer2000Bone CancerSource: Bill Field, 2005, UI
17 Chances Of Developing Cancer Due To Radon Depend On… Levels of radon in home - DoseAmount of time spent in home - DurationPre-DispositionSmokerNon-smokerPrevious SmokerGenetics
18 Radon Level Non Smoker 20 pCi/L 10 pCi/L 8 pCi/L 4 pCi/L 2 pCi/L If 1,000 people who never smoked were exposed to this level over a lifetime*…The risk of cancer from radon exposure compares to**…What to Do:20 pCi/LAbout 36 people could get lung cancer35 times the risk of drowningFix your home10 pCi/LAbout 18 people could get lung cancer20 times the risk of dying in a home fire8 pCi/LAbout 15 people could get lung cancer4 times the risk of dying in a fall4 pCi/LAbout 7 people could get lung cancerThe risk of dying in a car crash2 pCi/LAbout 4 people could get lung cancerThe risk of dying from poisonConsider fixing between 2 and 4 pCi/L1.3 pCi/LAbout 2 people could get lung cancer(Average indoor radon level)(Reducing radon levels below 2 pCi/L is difficult)0.4 pCi/L(Average outdoor radon level)18
19 Radon Level SMOKERS 20 pCi/L 10 pCi/L 8 pCi/L 4 pCi/L 2 pCi/L If 1,000 people who smoked were exposed to this level over a lifetime*…The risk of cancer from radon exposure compares to**…What to Do:20 pCi/LAbout 260 people could get lung cancer250 times the risk of drowningFix your home10 pCi/LAbout 150 people could get lung cancer200 times the risk of dying in a home fire8 pCi/LAbout 120 people could get lung cancer30 times the risk of dying in a fall4 pCi/LAbout 52 people could get lung cancer5 times the risk of dying in a car crash2 pCi/LAbout 32 people could get lung cancer5 times the risk of dying from poisonConsider fixing between 2 and 4 pCi/L1.3 pCi/LAbout 20 people could get lung cancer(Average indoor radon level)(Reducing radon levels below 2 pCi/L is difficult)0.4 pCi/L(Average outdoor radon level)
20 Test, Fix, Save a Life Every home should be tested Testing is easy No special skills requiredOnly takes a couple of minutesIt’s inexpensive – especially compared to medical treatment
21 TEST TEST TEST TEST TEST TEST.... Adverse health effects of radonwill increase as more people areExposed in homes and work,Our population ages, andIncreased medical-related radiation exposure
22 Radon on the Rez Need to educate and test! Located in medium to high zones of radon potentialStarted short term testing in 2005Handed out over 700 tests0.4 to 44 pCi/LCrawl spaces (cement and dirt)BasementsNeed to educate and test!
25 Short-Term Fixes….Sealing cracks and other openings in foundation to limit radon flow into homeHouse pressurization involves blowing air from upper floors or outside into lowest level of house (typically basement) to prevent radon from entering house
26 Short-Term Fixes…. (cont.) Natural ventilation reduces radon levels by mixing radon with outside airTypically a temporary measure due to increased heating/ cooling costsHeat-recovery ventilator (HRV or air-to-air heat exchanger) can increase ventilation.Increases heating/cooling costs, too, but not as much as natural ventilation
27 Long-Term Fixes For houses with basement or slab-on-grade Subslab suction (or sub-slab depressurization) is most common method.Pipes inserted through floor slab or below slab from outside house into crushed rock or soil underneathFan connected to pipes draws radon from below house, released into outdoor airDrain tile suctioncan be used in houses where perforated drain pipes installed to direct water from foundation, but only when tiles form complete loop around foundation
28 Long Term Fixes (cont.)Sump hole suction can be used in houses with basements and sump pumps.Sump can be capped, can continue to drain water and also serve as location for radon suction pipeBlock wall suction can be used to remove radon from hollow spaces in basement concrete block wallsFor houses with crawl spacesPassive ventilation (without fan), or active(with fan)Submembrane depressurization: covering earth floor with heavy plastic sheet, using vent pipe and fan to draw radon from under sheet
29 Don’t leave me hanging…. Test, test, test….what does it lead to?Tons of funds to identify problem…Where is money to fix problem?Many don’t have funds to fix themselvesHave to be very creative to get mitigation $How do we get it incorporated in with HUD?How do we get it incorporated into Housing?
30 Leech Lake Mitigations Three main typesSub floor subductionSump pumpRadon barrierBuildingcapacity through training
38 Radon Resistant New Construction New homes can be built to be radon-resistantMinimize radon entry routesAllow for easier remediation of problems that may occur laterCosts less if installed during construction (estimated $350 – $500 to cost of new home compared to $800 – $2,500 to retrofit existing home)
39 Radon-Resistant New Consruction Three categoriesSealing entry routes: basic element in radon mitigationSimilar to controlling moisture and for energy conservation.Vapor barriers, caulks, foams can seal radon entry routes in foundation and floor areas.Soil ventilation systems: soil depressurization or sub-slab depressurization systems.Create suction on soil so radon is removed as soil gas before entering house.Some of these systems use fans (active systems) and some do not (passive systems)
40 RRNC (cont.) Mechanical house ventilation systems Designed to provide extra outside air dilution or to maintain higher pressure inside building relative to outside, preventing radon from entering
41 Basic elements of radon-resistant features Gas Permeable Layer – Layer placed beneath slab or flooring system to allow soil gas to move freely underneath house. In many cases, material used is 4-inch layer of clean gravelPlastic Sheeting - Placed on top of gas- permeable layer and under slab to help prevent soil gas from entering home. In crawlspaces, sheeting placed over crawlspace floorSealing and Caulking - All openings in concrete foundation floor sealed to reduce soil gas entryVent Pipe or 4-inch gas-tight or PVC pipe (commonly used for plumbing) runs from gas-permeable layer through house to roof to safely vent radon and other soil gasesJunction Box – Electrical junction box installed in case electric venting fan is needed later
43 Leech Lake Radon Mitigations Radon Barrier MembraneSump Pump – drain tileSub floor subductionsactive and passive systemsRRNC
44 A Lung Cancer Victim Speaks Dennie Edwards, Elyria, OH, www.cansar.org “In 2004, I had a very bad cold, so my doctor performed a chest x-ray to check for pneumonia. I've never smoked, so you can imagine how shocked I was that he found a 4.5 centimeter mass in my left lung.“Even though I've been a real estate agent for 31 years, I had never bothered to test my house for radon. I always informed my clients that radon testing prior to purchase was an option (to protect my liability), but truthfully, I really didn't care if they tested or not.“Now I had to wonder whether my lung cancer had been caused by radon exposure. While the doctor scheduled my surgery, I scheduled a radon test. The result was 10 pCi/l, (2 ½ times the EPA's Action Level). I had lived in the home for 12 years. Needless to say, I called a contractor to have a mitigation system installed.“Two days later I had surgery. I thought I was surely going to die. When I woke up choking with tubes in my throat, panic set in. They had removed my entire left lung. I'm getting better. I can walk up to a mile. But, I can no longer dance, lift things, or exert myself.“My clients now get a very personal testimonial about the importance of testing for radon."
45 Brandy Toft Air Quality Specialist Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe