Take the Test
Do it Yourself
Radon Action Timetable
Most Recent First
Radon should be on Barton Health's Radar
sent this email to Robby Randolph, manager of the Patient
Centered Medical Home concept at Barton Health in hopes
that Barton would move radon up the priority list of medical
issues in the community. This is an on-going campaign
but I think this letter lists the major points.
for the quick reply.
stated "If we have a high incidence of lung cancer
diagnosis in our community that can be dissociated to
other factors, such as smoking, and has a greater impact
on our population than high blood pressure, diabetes,
mental health, cervical/colon/and breast cancer, then
there would be a higher likelihood that it would move
up on the priority list."
of us do have friends who have never smoked that have,
or have died from lung cancer. And as Board member Dena
Schwarte said at the recent PFAC meeting, we do not have
hard data on lung cancer because these patients are shipped
out to other hospitals and we do not keep data on cause
of those deaths. Also it is impossible to detect how one
got the lung cancer so we have to rely on national data.
also stated: I feel the health system's most appropriate
role would be to screen for lung cancer versus ensuring
each patient's home be screened for Radon, which I see
as a more public health endeavor. Since testing a home
for radon has such a low cost ($0 to $15) and wholesale
screening for lung cancer has a much larger cost and possible
side effects from the radiation, an ounce of prevention
may be both cheaper and better than a pound of cure.
contend that radon-induced lung cancer should be considered
a health problem in our area. Here's why:
Radon-induced lung cancer is in the top ten deadliest
cancers in the US, (see chart below from attached EEH2010
South Lake Tahoe clearly has the geology (decomposed granite)
for a very high risk of radon potential (see radon map
below prepared by the California Geological Survey in
4 out of 10 homes in South Lake Tahoe actually tested
for radon are over the EPA Action Level of 4 pCi/L (see
graph below taken from radon test data collected by the
California Radon Program in the CDPH).
But frankly everyone in our community should be concerned
about radon because it's not just the very high radon
homes that matter. Surprisingly the majority of radon
induced lung cancers come from homes with below 4 pCi/L
readings. This is because there are so many of them and
the risk of lung cancer from radon varies with the amount
of time of exposure and the amount of the radon, i.e.
same risk for a short exposure to high levels as to a
long exposure to low levels. Even the EPA says to "consider"
fixing your home if it tests between 2 and 4 pCi/L. (taken
from attached REH report).
since South Lake Tahoe has both a high potential for radon
risk and measured actual test results that show nearly
half of our homes have high radon, and since the U.S.
Surgeon General has found that radon is a direct cause
of lung cancer, second only to smoking, one might conclude
that it would be sensible for our main health provider,
Barton Health, to include radon-induced lung cancer as
one of the important health threats in our community.
you for considering these points,
Radon At Tahoe
Radon Program Gets Go Ahead at Barton!
idea is that every new mother takes home a coupon for
a free radon test kit when she leaves the hospital with
her newborn baby.
10 years ago I generated this demo brochure (2007 to be
exact) with the goal of getting a Newborn Radon Program
active in South Lake Tahoe, and then possibly in California.
The final push took 2 years working outside of Barton
and 2 years working within Barton Health's Patient and
Family Advisory Committee. It's a slow process, but we
are finally making some headway.
Deardorf of the California Radon Program volunteered to
allow us to use a small portion of her grant testers for
the first years pilot project. Natasha Schue of Barton
Health is willing to work with me on the wording and the
images for the brochure. Barton Health has voluteered
to provide the design and printing needed. Therefore no
grants have to be applied for, at least for the first
year trial run.
to come on this exciting project!
UCLA and USC Agree on Something?
The Palos Verdes Peninsula in Los Angeles Has Very High
1/8/2019: I received no reply from either University.
sent an email to both the UCLA Magazine and the USC Trojan
Family Magazine to see if they would consider doing an
article on the high radon concentrations in the Palos
Verdes Peninsula in Los Angeles. Time will tell if either
university cares enough about the high radon risk in their
own backyard to run an article in their magazine. Of all
the California Radon Maps I have seen, this large area
of very high radon risk in a highly populated area may
be second only to the very high risk area in our own home
town, South Lake Tahoe. See
the Tahoe radon map.
from UCLA in 1967 with a BS in Business. At that time
I was living in Los Angeles and had no idea what radon
was. In 1971 I moved to South Lake Tahoe, CA and in 2004
discovered radon in my house which prompted me to fix
it, and in the processes I started a company, Radon At
Tahoe, selling radon testers on Amazon and being a local
promoter of all things radon, awareness and action. You
can read all about it on my web page if you wish: RadonAtTahoe.com.
am not writing to be the subject of an article, but I
was wondering if radon, especially radon in the Palos
Verdes Peninsula, so close to UCLA, might be a topic of
interest to the UCLA Magazine readers, especially if you
could find a current connection to someone at UCLA doing
research in this area.
radon, if you research it, you will find that radon is
the leading cause of lung cancer after smoking. According
to the EPA, 21,000 people die from radon induced lung
cancer each year in the USA. But it is easily detected
with a tester (some are free or under $20, some, like
the electronic one that I sell on Amazon, are over $150).
And it is fixable on existing and new construction. More
about that on my web page.
doing a Google search on "radon and palo verde peninsula,"
I was surprised to find the CALIFORNIA STATE SCIENCE FAIR
web site where the original science fair project (see
link below) raised awareness of radon on the Palos Verdes
Peninsula for the very first time in 2004.
of Indoor Radon Concentrations in the Palos Verdes ...
Objectives/Goals. The objective of this project is to
quantify classroom radon concentrations in the schools
of the Palos. Verdes Peninsula Unified School District
can do your own Google search for more links showing radon
meetings for residents in 2014 other items of interest.
is a much more recent radon map of the Palos Verdes Peninsula
and the accompanying report by the California Geological
Society and the California Radon Program.
on image for a larger view.
here is the link for the report:
on the map is an indication of Very High Risk of radon
in the soil. One of the reasons I am even aware of this
is that the only other large red area like that in the
10 or so radon maps that have been produced in California
over the last 10 years is in my home town of South Lake
Tahoe, CA. So I am aware of the dangers of that high an
area of radon concentrations. You can view all of the
current California radon maps on my web site with links
to the originals at the California Geological Survey web
Verdes Peninsula, being such a nice area to live, so close
to the UCLA campus, it just might be home to some of your
faculty or administration. If you decide not to pursue
this as an article, this letter could at least serve the
purpose of giving you a heads up to encourage UCLA residents
in that area to test their homes for radon.
Miner, BS '67
Health Urged to Pursue the Radon and Physicians Program
letter to the members of the Barton Health Patient and
Family Advisory Council:
joined the PFAC in January of 2017 with the express intention
of promoting the Physicians and Radon Program and the
Newborn Radon Program at Barton Health. This was after
more than a year of lobbying efforts to encourage Barton
Health to address radon in a more active manner. Now we
are approaching January 2019, nearly two years that I
have been on the PFAC and I wish I could report that we
have made much progress. The Newborn Radon Program to
distribute a free test kit to all mothers of newborn babies
as they leave the hospital has not received any funding
or interest in redesigning the original brochure. The
Physicians and Radon Program, which was to encourage all
Barton physicians to discuss radon with their patients
and to add the question, "Have you tested your home
for radon?" to their intake forms, has not found
any sponsors or participants.
am questioning my reason for being on the PFAC. Yes, the
PFAC needs members of the community to bring feedback
on Barton Health policies and practices. But I was clear
at the start; my personal agenda was and is to promote
radon awareness and action at Barton Health. That part
of the equation is still missing.
Precedent and resources are readily available for Barton
Health to use in learning about and taking action on radon.
Here is what I found from a quick Google search on Physicians
Public health: Radon exposure: Can we make a difference?
- NCBI - NIH
by R Copes - ?2007 - ?Cited by 13 - ?Related articles
Finally, physicians, particularly primary care physicians
who practice in radon-prone areas, can encourage patients
to have their homes checked for radon.
and Lung Cancer - Editorials - American Family Physician
Sep 1, 2000 - A mitigation system vents radon from beneath
the house to the outside of the home. Installation typically
costs from $500 to $2,500. Radon is a known carcinogen
and may pose a serious health threat. Physicians may be
the only science professionals that patients contact.
Awareness Through Physicians https://www.health.ny.gov/environmental/radiological/radon/md_campaign.htm
Physicians can have a tremendous positive impact on the
health of New Yorkers by encouraging radon testing and
mitigation, to help reduce the likelihood of ..
Physician's Guide - Iowa Department of Public Health
Because of the serious health risk posed by radon, the
U. S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends
that all homes be tested for radon below the third floor.
... Radon does increase the risk of lung cancer, and physicians
have an obligation to educate their patients about the
health risk associated with radon."
From A Physicians Perspective - CERTI.US
A panel of physicians pose hard hitting questions regarding
the basis for concern, the true relative risk as well
as how radon can be identified, remediated and ..
last one deserves more than a cursory glance. It is panel
discussion by Physicians and other members of the medical
and health community about how doctors can incorporate
radon into their wellness practices. Moderated by my radon
mentor, Douglas Kladder from CERTI in Colorado.
you would like another presentation to the PFAC on radon
I would be glad to do it but I think you already have
enough information. The next step is to implement a Physicians
and Radon and a Newborn Radon Program at Barton Health.
Please let me know if I can help you overcome the obstacles
to doing this.
Radon At Taho
Beach Club Responds to Radon
McGinnis, Sales Executive for Tahoe Beach Club (thetahoebeachclub.com
530.545.3034) did an upfront job of responding to my questions
about radon preparedness at the multi-million dollar project
in Stateline. He contacted the Senior Project Manager
at the Cumming management firm, Mike Allen, who explained
their radon rationale. The email requested confidintiality,
but the bottom line is that since the condo structures
will have an airy parking garage below the living spaces,
there is no need to incorporate RRNC (Radon Resistant
New Construction) techniques to the building. My previous
inquires fell on deaf ears but Michael McGinnis followed
through with an answer. Thank you Michael!
Cancer Death Risk at 4 pCi/l
Stewart, Director of Environmental Health at American
Lung Association of the Mid-Atlantic, prepared a few charts
to illistrate the relative increased risk of radon at
1.25 pCi/l and at 4 pCi/l. Smoking adds to the risk but
for non-smokers the increase from 1.25 to 4 pCi/l brings
about a 1% higher risk of lung cancer deaths. Others have
compared living in a house with 4 pCi/l radon to smoking
8 cigarettes a day as far as risk of lung cancer death.
on image to download all three charts.
here to download excerpts of the discussion of estimating
radon cancer risk vs. smoking.
out of 10 Homes in SLT Have High Radon !!
South Lake Tahoe Radon Chart
up Tahoe!! Nearly half the homes in South Lake Tahoe have
high radon! And yet there is next to nothing being done
about it. It makes my head spin. Anyway, for the record,
here are the latest statistics from the California Radon
Program Test Database for the 9 ZIP Codes in South Lake
Tahoe. How did I get this data? Read below.
years of neglect the California Radon Program finally
updated their California Radon Test Database. The results
are as of February 2016 and they recently released the
data in PDF format. The tests are by ZIP Codes and in
a PDF format, which is fine for looking up a particular
ZIP Code, but since the columns cannont be totaled, it
is not very useful for research on regions, such as South
Lake Tahoe, which contains 9 ZIP Codes.
by the lack of functionality of the PDF format I decided
to attempt the conversion the the entire database to Excel
format. It turned out to be no small task. but using PDF
Complete as a start and spending the time to format out
the extraneous headings, I was able to finally prevail.
we now have is the complete California Radon Test ZIP
Code Database in Excel format. Now anyone can download
the database and cherrypick the zip codes they want to
combine into a region, as I have done above for California,
Sacramento, and South Lake Tahoe.
hope more radon action advocates will make use of this
free Excel tool to calculate the number of houses with
high radon in their geographical region.
the above South Lake Tahoe Radon Chart here.
the original PDF Database from the California Radon Program
web site here.
the entire California Radon Test database in Excel format
from Radon At Tahoe here.
is a link to determine the zip codes in your particular
Moonshine Ink Article on Radon
on the North Shore
on image to view article
Beach Club and Radon
prestegious Tahoe Beach Club was put on notice (by me)
to use RRNC (Radon Resistant New Construction methods
when building their new club house and condominiums.
Tahoe Daily Tribune article on ground breaking ceremony.
my letter to the architect Peter Grove of Collaberative
Design Studio in Reno.
Region 9 Radon Stakeholders Meeting
Region 9 covers California, Nevada, Arizona, Hawaii, Guam,
and Navaho Nations. This is only the second meeting like
this ever in this region. It was put together by the EPA
and sponsored by the Nevada Radon Program and was held
in Reno, Nevada.
was a great time to meet with other radon professionals
and to hear presentations on radon programs in the region
and to hear the stories of lung cancer survivors, real
people, many of whom lived in houses with high radon for
years but did not know it until too late.
Request Part II - - The Response
EPA Freedom of Information Act request netted three things,
The Budget: 2014 Budget
for the California Radon Program.
The Goals: 2015 SIRG (State
Indoor Radon Grant) Workplan
The Accomplishments: 2014
Indoor Radon Program Activity Report
is fantastic! We can finally see a little further inside
the California Radon Program. From the Budget we can see
how our taxpayer dollars are being spent. For instance
we will be asking why a full time person is budgeted for
but the Radon Program Manager is only assigned 1/3 time
to the Radon Program. (The second section of the budget
document, Section B, details, is the more useful section.)
the Goals we can see what the California Radon Program
is telling the EPA it intends to do with the grant money
it gets. We have never been given this data before. It
is quite impressive in scope. For instance it shows county
and regional screening surveys that are either not on
or hidden on the web site. We feel that these goals should
be published on the website for all to see and evaluate.
the Accomplishments we can finally see the statistics
of what the California Radon Program has been able to
do with those resources. It also is impressive given that
the web page does not display any of this data. This could
be published in a newsletter format, or just as is to
show the public what the program is accomplishing for
the money and resources spent. This is also important
so the public can petition the CDPH to accomplish more
or to put resources toward other objectives.
think we are finally getting somewhere in holding the
California Department of Public Health's feet to the fire,
as it were. My goal is to get them to define where the
program is intending to go, how much it is costing and
what they are accomplishing with those resources. In the
past this information has been shielded behind closed
doors. Now, I hope, it will be made more visable to the
public without the need for Freedom of Information Act
requests. We have not yet had anyone in the CDPH respond
to our request to discuss this. Keep tuned.
is my letter to Kelvin Yamada, Chief of the Environmental
Management Branch of the CDPH, ranking official over the
California Radon Program, asking him how he intends to
display this data to the public and why the manager position
is funded for full time but only staffed for 1/3 time.
Of course I copied the EPA who manages the SIRG grants
in hopes that they will also ask that question and audit
the program more closely. I also requested that the Goals
and Accomplishments be made available on the web site
in the form of a newsletter so the public has access to
these documents without going through the hassle of filing
a FOIA request. Stay tuned for his response.
FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) Request to EPA
filed a FOIA with Region 9 (Pacific Region) of the EPA
asking them to disclose the budget detail for the California
Radon Program. Since I got nowhere two years ago asking
for this information from the California Department of
Health, let's see what we can get from the EPA. Below
is the text of the request:
request the two past years and current year budget for
the California Radon Program, under the DPH, showing:
What funds are derived from EPA SIRG Grants.
2. What are the matching funds or other funds from DPH.
3. How, specifically, the funds are used (personnel, outreach,
radon maps, etc.)
4. By what criteria the effectiveness of the uses of funds
are audited by DPH and by EPA.
5. By what criteria the Region 9 EPA decides on how to
divide SIRG funds to Region 9 entities (California, Nevada,
purpose of this request is to understand the existing
sources and uses of funds for the California Radon Program
along with their effectiveness, in order to recommend
changes to make the Program more effective in preventing
radon induced lung cancers in California. I can't attach
the very complete and helpful Nevada Radon Program budget,
sent to me by Adrian Howe without a FOIA request because
it is hard copy. But I can tell you it is very complete
and shows where the money comes from, where it goes and
how effective it is. In 2012 I requested this same budget
info directly from the California Radon Program and the
management in the DPH and received very little help but
plenty of frustration. I have attached my series of letters
and emails to the California Radon Program asking for
a budget and showing the frustrating year-long process
which ended unsuccessfully in 2013. I hope this current
request is met with a more straight forward response.
correspondence with DPH.
Addressed South Lake Tahoe City Council on NRAM
displayed the 2 ft by 3 ft poster of radon potential in
South Lake Tahoe. I asked city council to proclam January
as Radon Action Month for South Lake Tahoe. It did not
generate much interest though a few council members asked
questions, but no followup.
Health's Wellness Lecture Series: Environmental Cancer
Health asked me to be on hand to answer question about
radon, one of the many cancer causing agents in our environment,
as addressed by Dr. Roderick Turner, Barton Pathology
doctor. I handed out maps of Radon Potential in South
Lake Tahoe and the text of my speach to the South Lake
Tahoe Cancer League (below). I also handed out I had the
radon map printed on a 2 ft by 3 ft poster and displayed
that as well. Good question and answer session after the
Lake Tahoe Cancer League Talk
was asked to be the speaker at the South Lake Tahoe Cancer
League, speaking on radon and honoring one of their members
who recently died from lung cancer. She was a non-smoker.
About 40 people were in attendance. I handed out a copy
of my presentation to those in attendance and one
is available here.
Ever West Coast Radon Stakeholder's Meeting
February 24, 2015, in Sacramento there will be the First
Annual Radon Stakeholder's Meeting for EPA Region IX,
which is Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada, Pacific
Islands, 148 Tribal Nations. This is a big deal for the
West Coast to finally hold a meeting on radon. The rest
of the country has been holding these regional meetings
for decades. Maybe there is hope for our section of the
Benefits of Having a California Radon Poster Contest
face it, kids are creative. There is a National
Radon Poster Contest but no mention of a State Radon
Poster Contest on the DPH Radon Program web page. Curiously
California had an entry in the National Contest but there
is no way that I could find how to enter. It would be
a good promotional program with the local schools if we
could find out more about it. More about this as my research
the National First Place Winner for 2015 is Sunny, Age
14 of Louisville, KY. What a great poster!
total visitors to Radon at Tahoe
new visitors in 2013 and 2014
New Look to Radon Promotion
nearly two years of neglecting to update this page (blog)
I finally had a few new things to share. This, and the
two items above are the first items of radon progress
I have seen for a while. I decided to lighten up a little
on the radon message and image of my business cards and
media ads. This is the result you may see in future promotions:
Little War with the California DPH Radon Program
can the $337,091 State Radon Program in California spend
so much and accomplish so little? That is the question
I have been trying to answer this past year. The radon
database by zip code has not been updated since March,
2010, they do not publish a quarterly newsletter, or arrange
for talks at local public libraries, or support additional
staff around the state, or develop a radon poster contest
in the schools, or go to green building conferences as
past radon managers have done, or request that the Governor
to proclaim January as National Radon Action Month, as
he has done in previous years, or attend industry radon
might want to compare the effectiveness of the California
Radon Program to the Nevada
Radon Program. They both have similar funding: California
= $337,091, Nevada = $358,334, part Federal SIRG Grants
and part matching funds. But Nevada has a robust radon
education program for the same money spent with staff,
public outreach, free test kits, library programs throughout
the state, and an attractive quarterly newsletters with
statistics on improvements to outreach, etc., etc. Have
the people of California been getting their money's worth?
We should be managing our radon program better, with an
eye on outreach and public accountability.
am sorry to say this, but I have to assume that the California
Radon Program is not doing a good job either due to corruption
or incompetence. Either management is assigning the radon
program manager to other assignments, using federal and
state radon funds, which would be illegal, or he is just
not managing his time well. I mean it would be difficult
to spend 40 hours a week at that desk and not get more
done. This is painfully clear when you compare the California
radon program to the one in Nevada with nearly equal funding
but with huge improvements in results. (see the correspondence
letter below for details).
are some options to affect change in that department:
Call for a budget audit from the Office of the Budget.
This would have to be requested by my elected representatives:
State Senator Ted Gaines, and State Representative Frank
2. Contact the State Grand Jury and request a Grand Jury
Investigation of the Radon Program.
3. Contact the University of California Cooperative Extension
and ask if they would be interested in taking on the radon
program, similar to how it is organized in Nevada.
4. Do nothing.
do not come to these conclusions lightly. Read
the transcripts of our communications over the past
year to get an idea of the extent of the problem and how
frustrating it can be to deal with a bureaucracy.
total visitors to Radon at Tahoe
new visitors in 2012
from Governor Brown on National Radon Action Month
requested that California Governor Jerry Brown Proclaim
that January is California Radon Action Month in line
with the U.S. EPA National Radon Action Month. (Note:
I did this because the California Radon Program under
the Dept. of Public Health decided to break with tradition
and not to request a proclamation this year.)
request says in part:
... A little background information on radon in California:
In the past, radon has not been considered as much of
a problem in California. Only 1% of our homes were estimated
to have elevated radon levels, but still with the largest
number of homes of any state, that's still a lot of homes
with high radon. With the new radon maps published in
the past few years by the California Geological Survey,
we are gaining a better understanding of the actual radon
distribution in California.
According to those CGS radon maps and studies, which to
this point have covered only 10 counties or 13.9% of the
state land mass, 1.5 million Californians live in high
to moderate radon potential areas in those 10 counties.
According to Dr. Phil Jalbert of the U.S. EPA, California
has the highest death rate of any state from radon induced
lung cancer: 1,724 deaths per year out of a total of 21,000
radon induced lung cancer deaths in the United States.
I am afraid I cannot say that the response to California's
radon problem by the California Department of Public Health
Radon Program has been up to the task. However I plan
to encourage the CDP to take closer look at the problem
and the solutions in the coming months."
my full request.
a similar radon proclamation in Colorado.
request was declined because it had to be requested by
the California Radon Program first and that program has
declined to request a proclamation this year. Shame on
in the News From Iowa
TV in Des Moines, Iowa broke this news story on radon
in Iowa schools. More news agencies are running in-depth
TV news segments on radon lately.
Killer: Radon in Iowa Schools
(7 minutes) click on image to view news story
in the News From Utah
TV in Utah ran a series of in-depth news reports on radon.
They are well done, quick, yet touch on all the major
impact points: Family loss, owners had no knowledge of
radon, home builder denial of radon and then denial of
responsibility, lack of state or local building regulations,
one legislator who wants to do something about it, and
a news program that knows how to do investigative reporting.
the similarity between Utah and California? Mountains,
granite soils, lack of regulations, lack of good reporting!
family members diagnosed with lung cancer; radon suspected
levels of radon gas detected in Draper; residents have
on image to watch short news report
USER Comments on Radon Maps
US Green Building Council's LEED Certification program
for green buildings has a User
Forum for making comments to LEED Version 4 revision document.
I left the following comments on radon maps and will update
this if I get any response:
USGBC should use current, local and accurate radon maps
in determining areas of high radon risk. Just because
the EPA published a national radon map by county 20 years
ago, does not mean it is the final authority on radon
risk potential today. Many states and localities have
produced more accurate and more recent radon risk maps
and they should be used by the USGBC when and where available.
American Association of Radon Scientists and Technologist
(AARST) a leading radon industry professional group, states
in it's recent revision of the Radon Resistant New Construction
RRNC 2.0 consensus document:
RADON POTENTIAL ZONES
1201.1 EPA established zones.
The radon potential of a building site shall be estimated
from the United States environmental Protection Agency
radon potential map as shown in Figure 1201.1 or from
United States Environmental Protection Agency radon potential
by county listing as shown in Table 1201.2. Where state
or local jurisdictions have published radon potential
data, such data shall supersede the information in Figure
1201.1 and Table 1201.2."
can't speak for all states, but I know that in California,
one has only to look at the California Geologic Survey's
radon web site (http://www.conservation.ca.gov/cgs/minerals/hazardous_minerals/radon/Pages/Index.aspx)
to find 18 localized radon maps either completed or under
development. These readily available radon maps and surveys
should be used (where and when available) by the USGBC
in establishing high radon risk areas and the 20 year
old EPA national radon map should only be used where these
more recent maps do not exist.
California Geological Radon Maps
International Radon Symposium in Las Vegas this month,
Dr. Ron Churchill of the California
Geological Survey made a presentation on 18 counties
or portions of counties with completed or near-completed
geological radon maps. This is important data because
many consider California to be a low-radon state and these
radon maps dispell that notion in a visual way. It is
also important data because many agencies have been relying
on the older, less accurate
EPA National Radon Map to determine radon risk in
California and now they will be hard-pressed (or at least
that's the hope!) to ignore these more recent and more
accurate radon maps. Note how many mapping areas are in
or near the Sierra Nevada Mountains.
images of all radon maps on our California Radon Maps
Radon Map Power Point presentation
to California Geological Survey web site to view or download
the following maps:
Special Report 216 - Radon Potential in Santa
Cruz County, California
Download Report (2.2 MB PDF) Download Santa Cruz County
Map (3.8 MB PDF)
Special Report 211 - Radon Potential in the
Lake Tahoe Area, California
Download Report (2.3 MB PDF) Download Lake Tahoe Map (1.6
Special Report 208 - Radon Potential in San
Luis Obispo County, California
Download Report (1.9 MB PDF) Download Eastern San Luis
Obispo Map (5.3 MB PDF) Download Western San Luis Obispo
Map (5.8 MB PDF)
Special Report 201 - Radon Potential in Monterey
Download Report (1.8 MB PDF) Download Eastern Monterey
Map (1.5 MB PDF) Download Western Monterey Map (2.7 MB
Special Report 194 - Radon Potential in Ventura
Download Report (1.8 MB PDF) Download Map (3.0 MB PDF)
California Radon Measurements by Zip
Code PDF (CDPH Radon Program), 104 KB
Special Report 182 - Radon Potential in Southern
Los Angeles County
Download Report (19 MB PDF) Download Map (5.6 MB PDF)
Radon Zone Map for Santa Barbara
PDF, 851 KB
Radon Mapping in Santa Barbara
and Ventura Counties,
article from Nov/Dec 1997 California Geology magazine
PDF, 7.6 MB
Geologic Controls on the Distribution of
Radon in California, 1991
PDF, 3.9 MB
Tops All States in Radon-Related Deaths
Dispite the fact that California bills itself as a relatively
"low radon" state (only 1% of homes in California
have elevated radon, versus 1 in 15 nationwide, according
to a California Radon Program handout), the EPA estimates
that because of our massive 37 million population, we
have the most radon-induced lung cancer deaths of any
state in the country. Phil Jalbert, Radon Team Leader
of the EPA Indoor Environment Division, estimated radon
induced lung cancer deaths by state and presented it at
the 2007 Jacksonville Radon Symposium. Radon at Tahoe
recently obtained a portion of the slide presentation
and calculations. The implications are that California
could also be a leader in saving lives by getting serious
about radon education and action.
of State Radon-related Lung Cancer Deaths, September 2007;
Jalbert, P., Carter, S., Pawel, D.
charts and calculations (a sub-set of the longer 2007
to Green Builders to Build Radon Out
Jones publishes the Green Builder website and blog. Ron
is recognized as one of the fathers of the green building
movement. He has been instrumental in establishing guidelines
and programs through NAHB, USGBC and a variety of regional
initiatives. I responded to his blog asking why more green
builders don't test for radon, and specifically why the
leading green builder associations, such as the U.S. Green
Building Council, which manages the LEED program, do not
use updated radon maps when requiring LEED applicants
to build radon out.
my Blog comment.
will update this if I get any response to my comment.
Nevada Radon Poster Contest
children are invited to showcase their artistic talents
to promote radon awareness by entering the 2013 Nevada
Radon Poster Contest by Oct. 30.
contest is open to children ages 9-14 who are enrolled
in a public, private, territorial, tribal, Department
of Defense, or home school. Children can also enter through
a sponsoring club, such as an art, computer, reading,
science, scouting organization, or 4-H club.
are free, but are limited to one entry per child.
should follow these five topics: 1) What is radon? 2)
Where does radon come from? 3) How does radon get into
our homes? 4) Radon can cause lung cancer, and 4) Test
your home for radon.
prizes for the top five Nevada entries are: $80 for first
place, $60 for second, $40 for third and $20 for fourth
and fifth place winners. The top three Nevada poster entries
are also awarded cash prizes for their teachers, or sponsoring
organizations representative, and are entered in
the national contest. National contest winners receive
$1,000 for first place, $600 for second, $400 for third,
and $400 for special online voting recognition.
winners will receive recognition and the posters will
be reproduced and distributed nationally to promote radon
Lake Tahoe News)
1st Place National Winner
You May Be Living
With a Killer
Laura of New York, NY
on image for contest information and application forms
we need to be doing this in California?
a Nevada Day event last year, Radon activist Denise Uber
(pictured) dressed up as the Radon Fairy to
educate people about the harmful effects of radon. Uber
is a strong advocate for radon awareness. She previously
had her home mitigated, appeared in local newspapers and
is a continued supporter of the Nevada
Radon Education Program. Hopefully the Radon Fairy
will show up for this year's Nevada Day, October 31.
Home Owners Assn. Radon Presentation
Condominiums are a beautiful complex of 135 beach-front
condos in Zephyr Cove, Nevada. The Home Owners Association
asked me to give a presentation on radon at their annual
home owners meeting and picnic. The PowerPoint presentation
is available for viewing and reviewing below, as are the
PowerPoint presentation 7-28-12
Page #2 Answers to Common Questions
one is from Deleware. We need a radon poster contest in
California and even South Lake Tahoe!
Iowa Cancer Consortium has published a video on YouTube
aimed at physicians and radon. There is a need for health
professionals, especially front-line family practicioners,
to better understand radon for themselves so they will
test their own homes and be a positive role model for
Dr. Vermillion says in the video, he was not really trained
on radon in medical school and it wasn't until a non-smoking
patient presented lung cancer symptoms to him that he
decided to look into it closer. In the process of testing
her for lung cancer, he decided to test his own home for
radon. He found elevated radon levels and had his house
fixed and now has added a radon question to his medical
have sent a link to this video to my primary care physiciam,
Dr. Patrick Martin in South Lake Tahoe, and to Mr. John
Williams, the Director and CEO of Barton Health, my local
hospital. I suggest that everyone reading this blog send
a link to the video to their primary care physician and
to the head of the hospital in their home town. I also
plan on sending this to the head of the medical schools
in my area, which are U.C.Davis Medical School in Sacramento
and U.C.S.F. Medical School in San Francisco. This is
a great way for citizens to take action on a personal
basis to affect change in their communities.
Tahoe Physicians and Radon Page
Tahoe Newborn Radon Program Page
The Killer of Real Estate Deals
radon is found during the inspection process in a real
estate deal, nobody wants to pay for it." So warns
Adam Conrad, broker/owner of Perry Wellington Realty.
seller doesnt want to pay because they agreed to
their bottom dollar when they accepted the
offer from the buyer. The buyer doesnt want to pay
because they offered their top dollar for
a home they thought was in good condition.
now the stalemate. Nobody wants to move. I see it from
both sides.... Heard from many sellers in a real estate
transaction- I am not paying for a radon system,
the buyer can pound sand. I get it. This is frustrating.
(But real estate agents) have to get the deal done.
if you are a seller, it is a good idea to approach this
situation with eyes wide open. You may have radon that
you didnt know you had. You could test for it now,
or just budget for a system which could cost $900-$1800
typically. It might be better to test and fix before you
list your house for sale. If radon is present, it is affecting
your health now, whether you sell or not.
you determine there is radon during the inspection process
of a sale, you are now required to disclose this information
to other potential buyers. This is the reason that sellers
typically fix the radon once it is discovered.
Remember that Sellers Property Disclosure
you filled out when you listed your house for sale? You
will need to update that document with the results and
what you did (or not) to fix it."
full article on Adam's real estate page,
Perry Wellington Realty.
how to develop a radon strategy for real estate agents
on our Real
am really sorry to tell you this, but you have less than
a 50 percent chance of living for one year and about a
15 percent chance of living for five years.
"This gloomy prognosis is delivered each year to
thousands of Americans who have been given a diagnosis
of lung cancer caused by exposure to the radioactive gas
radon. Since the late 1980s, a half million Americans
have died from radon-induced lung cancer, including a
significant number who never smoked a day in their lives."
starts an article on radon by Dr. Bill Fields in the Opinion
section of the New York Times. The article uncovers the
sadly limited role the EPA has played in protecting us
from radon but warns against cutting the radon grant program
out of the 2013 EPA budget.
News Report on Radon
News in Minnesota aired an excellent in depth 10 minute
radon news report on their Investigator Series. More news
stations should do the same in their local areas. This
particular news report does a great job of taking us into
the lives of a family that lost a mother who never smoked
to radon-induced lung cancer. "Who knew about radon?"
the daughter says that also lived in the same house with
extremely high levels. It goes into why people do not
test their homes, what radon is, how to test and how to
fix a home. If you have a few minutes, this is a good
one to watch.
In Well Water
is a link to a most interesting and sad story from a radon
professional on the radon list serve who observed, over
a 5 year period, a family who moved into a multi-million
dollar house, who followed the rules, observed state water
standards, relied on the knowledge and integrity of their
builder, but still were exposed to high radon levels and
radiation in their water because neither their well water
nor their radon was tested when they moved into their
"dream-house." This one should wake up any real
estate agent or buyer who thinks radon testing is a waste
of time and could hurt the sale. Don't
miss this one!
and Pregnancy: A Fact Sheet from the CDC
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has prepared
a fact sheet to help pregnant women understand the possible
health effects to their fetus from exposure to radiation.
is the link to the CDC website.
is a link to a discussion of the fact sheet by a group
of scientists on the Radon Listserv. This discussion brings
out, among other things, the lack of training most doctors
have regarding radiation and radon.
Leads Nation in Radon Lung Cancer Deaths
on chart for larger view).
of our large population, and even though we have a lower
percent of homes with elevated radon than many states,
California is estimated to be the number one state in
total number of radon related lung cancer deaths, according
to this 2007 study. View
total visitors to Radon at Tahoe
new visitors in 2011
Accuracy, Test for Radon in "Lived-In" Conditions
on chart for larger view).
would make radon levels in this house change from below
4 pCi/L to over 70 pCi/L in one day? The furnace kicked
on. The forced air furnace in this Colorado home was drawing
its combustion air from the crawl space, which happened
to have high radon levels, though the house happened to
be fine. The furnace distributed the heated and radon
ladened air throughout the house via the heating system.
When the furnace was off, the house tested very low for
is the problem with testing un-lived in houses for radon,
as is often done during real estate transactions. Unsuspecting
real estate agents may get a low test and say the house
has no radon because they do not know to simulate "lived-in"
conditions. A professional radon tester should know to
test taking the heater or air conditioner into account
to simulate "lived-in" conditions.
also points out the benefit of a professional continous
radon monitor with a print-out to see changes by the hour.
It is best to hire a radon professional with the right
equipment for real estate testing. However, if the real
estate agent or the professional radon tester did not
know to turn on the heater, any test would have shown
low radon in this high radon house.
Short-Term Radon Tests Enough?
levels vary so widely in the same house that short-term
radon tests often are misleading, especially in real estate
transactions. It's the average reading over the long term
that increase health risks. Continuous radon monitors
are more accurate simply because they average readings
over a longer time period than a two day short-term test.
Real estate transaction should close escrow with funds
set aside for mitigation if a long-term test (90 days
or more) is high (see the
Real Estate Page for details).
Realty Has Radon Talk at Staff Meeting
McCall and Jon Kolb of McCall Realty South Lake Tahoe
invited me to speak to about 20 of their real estate agents
at a staff meeting today. There was more interest and
questions than at my other real estate talks, possibly
because I did not use the Power Point presentation
that is guaranteed to put people to sleep, but instead
just talked about getting a "radon strategy"
and the Radon
Real Estate page on this web site.
a great step forward for a real estate agency to educate
agents on radon. Time will tell if the agents will "test
every house they sell for radon" as Thane McCall
requested that they do. Congrats to McCall Realty!
think McCall's concern about educating his agents and
his call for tests on all sales contrasts sharply with
Deb Howard's dismissive approach to radon as quoted in
the July 20th radon article in the Tahoe Tribune (see
the health risks, radon levels are not a pressing concern
for most homebuyers.
In her 30 years as a real estate industry veteran, Deb
Howard, a licensed real estate broker in California and
Nevada, said only one client was concerned about radon.
That was about 15 years ago, when radon was a hot topic
in the news. “It's not really high on the list of
concerns in the marketplace,” said Howard, owner
of Deb Howard and Co., “but that's not to diminish
its importance as something to be concerned about.”
In that case, the prospective buyers had the home's crawlspace
tested, with the result very near or at the danger zone
of 4 picocuries per liter. The fix was simple: Open the
vents in the sub area, then retest. The second test showed
the radon level had lowered. “Radon
is quite manageable and can be mitigated easily,”
Howard said." (As though all it takes
is opening a few sub area vents to get rid of all radon
problem - if it were that easy everyone would just open
vents! Deb Howard could learn a few things from Thane
Dialog with El Dorado County Officials on the Radon Article
sent Gerri Silva, Director of Environmental Management,
an email requesting status of their radon program and
if any changes were planned after the article and guest
column were published (see below). She responded with
a statement about being hampered by the Board of Supervisors
and doing all they are able to do.
Gerri Silva's email.
responded with an email stating (among other things!)
that there is plenty of progress still to be made and
she can take the necessary step to move forward if she
sees radon as a problem. So far, it seems like a stalemate
getting any meaningful radon action out of El Dorado County
my email to Gerri Silva.
Guest Editorial Runs in the Tahoe Daily Tribune
to their word, the editors of the Tahoe Daily Tribune
printed my guest editorial allowing me to comment on and
point out some of the shortcomings of the July radon articles
(see below). I wish they had been more timely than three
weeks after the original articles, but beggars can't be
choosers. I am hoping the articles and the guest editorial
will bring some comments from the public in letters to
the editor, or something, that could add to the discussion.
My secret fear is that both the articles and the editorial
will go unnoticed and will be soon forgotten. Pardon my
pessimism, but even in the face of facts and reports,
getting local government to act on radon is almost as
difficult as getting individual home owners to test their
houses for radon, articles and editorials not withstanding.
my Guest Editorial.
Makes The Front Page Headlines at Tahoe
exposure risk could be greater than expected." That
by-line starts Part I of a two part series on radon in
the Sierra Nevada in the Tahoe Daily Tribune today. Roseann
Keegan did a very good job of reporting on the issues,
the reports, the studies and the conclusions of radon
in this area. Of course, we have been reporting on these
same reports right here on this page and on the Radon
At Tahoe web site for years. But it's good to see the
message from a news paper which should reach a wider audience.
The article was well researched and factual with only
two errors, that I could find (price of mitigation: she
used national averages, not the higher Tahoe specific
rates; and a comment that just opening crawl space vents
can help, it won't. I plan to write a letter to the editor
to give the local persective. (And of course I also plan
to take out an ad in the paper near part II when it prints
Part I of the two part series
Part II of the two part series
my guest editorial response to the article
Training in Washington D.C. "Free"
National Environmental Health Association (NEHA) is sponsoring
a 2½ day training opportunity in Washington, DC.
The training is designed to enhance your efforts to implement
radon-resistant new construction (RRNC). You will work
with U.S. EPA staff, NEHA field partners who have successfully
implemented RRNC in their communities, local code officials
and builders, other national affiliate partners, and nationally-recognized
instructors. You will see specific examples of how to
develop an effective, results oriented program. And, you
will develop your own comprehensive strategy to guide
you in your efforts in promoting RRNC as part of your
radon risk reduction strategy. The training will include
an extensive overview of RRNC techniques and presentations
on radon health effects, including recent research. Must
apply by September 16, 2011.
PDF on how to apply.
Radon Contest Winners Announced
area residents will receive a $1,500 credit towards the
installation of radon mitigation systems in their homes
after winning a contest sponsored by University of Nevada
Cooperative Extension 's Radon Education Program.
the press release.
LUNG CANCER DEATHS AND
MITIGATION COST EFFECTIVENESS
is an rather formal study that asks the interesting question:
Is it worth it? Is it cost-effective
to fix new or existing houses to prevent radon-induced
lung cancer, as compared to the cost of treating those
cancers? The study looks at the radon-prone Upper Midwest
region as exemplified by Minnesota and Iowa and sites
other similar studies, such as one in Great Britain,which,
surprisingly, found it was not cost-effective in that
to the study
A Living Radon Reference Manual (2009)
in a PDF format, here is a good basic compendium
for all things RADON. Some of it is still a work
in progress but you can download the latest version or
view it online. Got questions about radon? Here are the
answers. Below is a partial list of the Table of Contents:
an example from the manual on the complicated radon decay
process made somewhat understandable.
U-238 series is the one that produces radon 222 and if
you’ll note from that series,
radon is the only element which is gaseous at STP. This
is the crux of the problem for as
the uranium-238 decays into its decay products, all the
solids remain within the earth (or
seawater), and the radon, being gaseous, has the mobility
to percolate up through the
earth and into the atmosphere, or into a house which may
be above the percolating radon.
to the manual
President's Cancer Panel, 2009.
Environmental Factors in Cancer: Radon
is a Power Point presentation by R. William Field, Ph.D.,
M.S. Professor, Department of Occupational and Environmental
Health, University of Iowa. This is a great presentation
of what we know about radon and how effective we have
been at protecting the public. Here is a sample from the
presentation: Homes in the US with Radon Resistant
Features (RRF). Pretty pathetic!
an example of our effectiveness (or lack thereof)
at getting the word out about radon.
The presentation is a well-rounded review of the problem
and the fixes.
Personally, I will likely use this at my next speaking
or Download the presentation.
visitors to radon at tahoe.com
EPA Radon Map shows Sierra as "moderate radon"
digitized version of the EPA Radon Map by counties shows
the obvious exclusion of the Sierra Nevada Mountain region
from the Zone 1 (High Radon Potential) rating. Since California
acknowledges that "the Sierra Nevada is the highest
radon region in the state" and local radon surveys
show 40% of homes in the Sierra Nevada region have elevated
radon, the National EPA Radon Map should also show this.
At least Nevada shows the counties that border the Sierra
Nevada to be Zone 1. This glaring omission of California
high radon areas is what allows real estate transactions
at Tahoe to skate with "moderate radon potential"
ratings and LEED green building certifications in Truckee
to ignore building radon out (Radon Resistant New Construction
- RRNC) when building LEED Certified buildings in known
high-radon areas in mountain counties. Both buyers and
builders think they are getting health buildings because
the law does not require true radon disclosure based on
the (flawed) National EPA Radon Map. (Grrr!)
map to view entire USA Radon Map.
visitors to radon at tahoe.com
Mountain News Runs Story on Radon At Tahoe
pays to advertise! After two months of running "Got
Radon?" ads in the Tahoe Mountain News, our first
really "paid" advertising in 7 years, Taylor
Flynn had Jeff Munson do a story on our company and radon.
Jeff interviewed me but took most of the data from the
web site and from independent research. It was a well-written
and factual article. The only correction I could find
was that he attributed the radon book to me. Actually
Doug Kladder, my radon certification instructor, wrote
Your Home From Radon, I only sell it.
it does not quite pay to advertise. Of all the sales I
have been getting on Amazon for the book and the tester,
in January only two were from Tahoe. It will be interesting
to see if another month of the "Got Radon" ad
and this story in the Mountain News generate more "local"
business. After all, I started this business to reach
folks at Tahoe. Now I sell to radon customers in over
40 states on the internet, but I still have trouble reaching
people in my home town.
the article on page 28, February, 2011 issue.
of the Mouths of Babes
6th grader did a Fair project on radon, got an A+, and
may influence her city officials to adopt a radon ordinance.
She compared her city (Windsor, Colorado) to nearby Fort
Collins, which already has a radon ordinance. She found
similar radon levels and characteristics in both communities.
By coincidence, South Lake Tahoe, California, has about
the same radon levels and characteristics as those two
towns, but no radon ordinance. It would be great if our
own Meyers Environmental Magnet School would be inspired
by this 6th grade Science Fair project and do a similar
radon project for South Lake Tahoe. Hopefully our city
and county officials would pay attention to the similar
levels of radon in these three communities and adopt a
similar radon ordinance (as we have been requesting for
the past 5 years).
the science fair report
Me The Science, Part Deux: Radon Dose Equivalents
those interested in the radiation dosages in milirems
associated with time spent in a radon-rich environment,
this chart is for you. This chart compares students, housewives,
and retired folks living normal lives in houses with high
radon to Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) regulations
for nuclear power plant workers. We may be getting more
overall radiation then we think.
Radon Dose Equivalents Chart
is controversy in the radiation science community on equating
radon levels to radiation exposure. Read some of the repartee
from the radon
measurement conversion chart, for those who need to
know the difference between a WL (working level) and a
Bq (becquerel). Hint: 1 Bq = 27 pCi.
interesting (but sad) point hidden in these radiation
charts is that they are kept on dusty shelves in remote
labs and never really given an airing in the public media.
It's killing us, but we hear next to nothing about it.
Me The Science: New Radon Study
those of you who care about the science behind what some
consider merely a "radon scare," this study
taps a much wider population than previous studies.
This large prospective study showed a positive association
between an ecological indicator of residential radon and
Impact: These results further support efforts to reduce
radon concentrations in homes to the lowest possible level.
County Geotourism and Radon
Daily Tribune ran an article on Geotourism in Douglas
County and the Sierra Nevada. Geotourism promotes areas
that, among other things, care about the "well-being
of its residents" and about "directing tourism
in a healthy and sustainable way,"
according to the article. This prompted me to communicate
once again with Nicole DeJonghe, of the Sierra Business
the role of promoting this area for geotourism while protecting
residents and visitors from radon is an on-going process.
Enlisting supporters without antagonizing them is the
goal, and combating apathy. Let's hope these efforts are
I enjoyed reading the article on geotourism in the Tahoe
Daily Tribune this morning. I hope there is a place
for radon in the discussion of "healthy and sustainable"
geotourism in the Sierra Nevada. According to the article,
one of the criteria for a destination to be on the Sierra
Nevada Geotourism map is that it "promotes the distinctive
geographical character of the region and its environment,
culture, aesthetics, heritage, and the well-being
of its residents ." According to you in the article,
"The Sierra Nevada has a ton of resources. It's just a
matter of deriving and directing that tourism in
a healthy and sustainable way. "
I want to encourage the Sierra Business Council, the Sierra
Nevada Geotourism Project and the National Geographic
Society to remember the " well being and healthy " aspect
of their charter.
Radon is a naturally occurring aspect of the Sierra Nevada
geo-environment. We have more of it here in the
Sierra Nevada than most places in the country because
of our granite. Radon is a by-product of the natural
radioactive breakdown of Uranium, which is contained in
granite. It is the second highest cause of lung
cancer behind smoking, according to the U.S. Surgeon General
and the U.S. EPA. Radon gets trapped in houses,
especially in cold climates such as ours, and builds up
to high enough levels to pose a health threat. It
can be fixed by ventilating beneath a sealed tarp in the
crawl space, which is usually a non-complicated and modest
priced fix. It can also be built out at almost no
cost when houses are built, if the local building department
requires it, which they currently do not. But the
point is, it is fixable and it does not have to be a deterrent
to geotourism. On the other hand, it should not
be ignored, either, which it largely has been by most
agencies who could do something about it. The Sierra
Business Council could play an important role by first
understanding radon, and second in getting local government
and health agencies to address radon. I hope you
choose to be part of the solution.
Below is the latest chart of the incidence of radon in
selected communities on the California side of the Sierra
Nevada and Lake Tahoe. Nevada does not keep a database
of radon test results by zip code, but you can expect
similar results on the Nevada side. For example,
Zephyr Cove had the highest radon score for any city in
Nevada of 69% of homes having elevated radon levels in
the 1991 statewide radon survey. I hope you will
choose to work together with me and the proper health
authorities to make this area a favored geotourism destination
as well as a healthy and safe place to live and visit.
Radon At Tahoe
article in Tribune
out the Sierra Nevada Geotourism web site.
radon? Ad To run in Tahoe Mountain News In January
to Radon Chart
update to the Sierra Nevada Radon Chart shows slight changes
with 806 additional test figures since last year.
was not much change in the percent of homes with elevated
readings in the 25 selected communities I have been charting
for the last few years. With 806 additional tests reported
to the California
Radon Program Data Base, readings in those 25 zip
codes around Lake Tahoe, went from 35% to 31%. In South
Lake Tahoe, with 82 additional readings, the percent of
elevated radon homes went from 39% to 40%. Still one of
the higher areas in the Nation.
latest Sierra Compare spreadsheet.
visitors to radon at tahoe.com
new visitors this past year
EcoTourism and the Case for Radon
there a place for radon in the discussion of "healthy
and sustainable" Eco and Geo Tourism in the Sierra
Nevada? The criteria for a destination on the Sierra Nevada
Geotourism map is that they "promote the distinctive
geographical character of the region and its environment,
culture, aesthetics, heritage, and the well-being
of its residents." According Nicole
Dejonghe, Program Director for the Sierra Business Council,
"The Sierra Nevada has a ton of resources. It's just
a matter of deriving and directing that tourism
in a healthy and sustainable way."
I hope to encourage the Sierra Business Council and National
Geographic to emphasis, or at least acknowledge the well
being and healthy aspect of their charter.
I sent this letter to Nicole DeJonghe who also directs
the Sierra Nevada Geotourism Project, an arm of the
National Geographic Society:
As a member of the Lake Tahoe Water Trail Assn.,I am in
total support of the Sierra Nevada Geotourism Project.
But as the owner of a radon business in South Lake Tahoe,
I feel a safety issue in the Sierra Nevada is being down-played
or simply ignored, both by tourism promoters, such as
yourself, and by government health officials, such as
El Dorado County Environmental Health Department.
The 2007 Radon Survey of the Lake Tahoe Area conducted
by the California Department of Public Health Radon Program,
and the subsequent radon map produced by the California
Geological Survey, shows that between 39% to 53% of the
houses in South Lake Tahoe and surrounding areas have
elevated radon levels. A similar high degree of
radon exists throughout the Sierra Nevada because of the
granite batholith which formed the mountain range.
The City of South Lake Tahoe, to its credit, has applied
for a grant to assess and fix lead paint and indoor radon
levels in low income housing, but not much else.
The County of El Dorado (as well as other Sierra Nevada
counties) has done next to nothing to address, fix, or
publicize the problem, aside from handing out a few free
test kits with very little publicity. Ditto for
the building departments and their new building permit
So how does this affect the Sierra Nevada Geotourism project?
I assume it is your charter to promote areas with
geo-tourism potential. Your target audience is people
who are concerned about the environment and the effect
their vacation would have on the environment. Geotourists
typically care that they will lessen their impact on the
places they go and in the way they recreate (human power
vs. gasoline power, etc.) by being green. But they
should also be made aware of how the environment impacts
them. Where danger exists, they should be warned
on how to avoid problems. Thus far, all of the major
players in our economy; businesses, government agencies,
real estate, and even residents have largely ignored radon
or worse, lied about it, to keep business as usual.
I am hoping that as geotourism in the Sierra Nevada progresses,
the promoters, such as your organization, will at least
consider radon an issue to be discussed, not as a scare
tactic, but as a fact of life in this granitic area.
I would hope that it would be difficult for promoters
of "geo" tourism, to tout it as an alternative,
superior, and enlightened form of recreation and yet ignore
this very natural "geo" health issue.
If I can help with the discussion, please contact me.
Below are a few resources if you wish to do some more
digging into the subject.
California Geological Survey map and report:
California Department of Public Health Radon Program:
Radon At Tahoe
Your House and Win
The “Test Your Home for Radon and Win Contest” will provide
two Carson City, Douglas or Washoe county homeowners with
a $1,500 credit towards the installation of a radon mitigation
usual, the Nevada Radon Program is going full force while
the California program has stalled. The California Department
of Public Health has put their Indoor Radon Program on
hold since program manager George Faggella was reassigned
within the department last year.
full story on the contest.
in Natural Gas from Shale
recent rush to tap Black Shale deposits for natural gas
may expose gas customers to radon. Uranium is naturally
concentrated in shale deposits and Geiger counters are
often used by gas drillers to find potential gas deposits.
article on the Energy Collective blog page was posted
by David Lewis on Dec. 1 and 4 days later had already
registered 819 hits. This could be a big topic. Here are
some highlights from the article:
"The shale deposits that have the US gas industry
so excited were studied after WWII by the Atomic Energy
Commission and declared to be the largest uranium resource
in the US.
"Because the gas industry is now going after
gas by drilling into a uranium resource their new gas
is contaminated with many times the radiation their former
"... some of the people who promote natural
gas and ignore its radiation hazard are the same ones
who want the nuclear industry shut down over any tiny
speck of radiation that can be pinned on it.
article and the author's response to comments explain
that exposure to all radiation has increased from 360
mrems in 1980 to 620 mrems in 2009, due mostly to medical
X-rays and scans. And while this level of radiation is
still considered "safe",
"Idaho State says using ordinary natural gas in the
home exposes you to 9 mrem. Shale gas extracted from a
uranium resource at the high end of the normal range cited
by Swanson would be 80 times more radioactive than 9 mrem,
or 720 mrem." "... Authorities have stated
children should not be exposed to more than 500 mrem .
Most would agree with limiting unnecessary doses for children.
Who needs natural gas in the home so badly they'd
tack on 720 mrem to what they and their kids are getting
have written to Southwest Gas about this article and will
post their comments if and when they respond.
those who want more, here's a technical
article on NORM (naturally
occurring radioactive material) on the inside of natural
Requires All Rental Units be Tested for Radon
943, An Act To Reduce Lung Cancer Rates in Maine
, was signed by Governor Baldacci on June 8. This new
law, which requires radon testing in all residential rental
properties by the year 2012, will take effect 90 days
following adjournment of the 124th Legislature, First
Regular Session. Read
announcement. This is the only state I am aware of
that ANY legislation regarding testing of rental units.
Will other states follow Maine's example?
visitors to radon at tahoe.com
Does Radon Look Like?
wonder what background radiation looks like? It's all
around you but you can't see it. Check out this cool You
Tube video using a cloud chamber from a science museum
in Berlin, Germany.
in air background radiation
and double alpha decay of radon from radium
in Drinking Water
dangerous is radon in drinking water? There is no EPA
standard, as there is for radon in indoor air. The 1996
Clean Water Act was never approved by Congress. Water
companies must report radon, along with other contaminants,
in their annual report, but there is no threshold to be
in or out of compliance with. South Tahoe Public Utility
District claims 1,000 pCi/L in their water, but that is
probably an average. I know they are releasing radon through
a spray station at one of their wells with higher radon
levels. How much is in my or your water is unclear. It's
not in the interest of STPUD to cause a stir or create
doubt about the safety of their water. STPUD board has
told me that as long as they are within Federal and State
guile lines, they do not go "above and beyond"
to mitigate radon from their wells.
of the problems is that it's difficult to test for radon
in your shower. There is not much publicity about the
health effects of excessive radon, radium and uranium
in drinking water. There are no legal limits or regulation
for it and it's much more difficult or impossible to test
for radon in your home drinking water or shower than testing
for radon in the air. (Charcoal test kits and electronic
radon testers, such as I sell, do not work well in a moist
environment, such as a shower, and they take longer than
10 minutes to register a reading).
is one critic's comments left on the Radon Professional
the many, many radon in water tests (Thanks Shawn) attached
to radon in air tests we have done over the last 25 years
I have never, ever, even once seen the EPA's formula for
10,000 pCi/L of radon in water generates 1 pCi/L of radon
in air work, in fact it never even been close. It's a
(in my opinion) ludicrous theory. It's this simple, if
I have a 2,400 sq ft home that I live in alone and my
neighbor has a 1,000 sq ft home with 5 children how is
it possible that the principle works the same for both
families and their respective homes? This is a real life
situation, mine and my neighbors. More importantly
how much radon does one absorb into their bloodstream
during a 10 minute shower at 10,000 pCi/L? How
long does it stay in the blood stream? What becomes of
the decay products that occur while the radon is in the
blood stream? What does the radon decaying and the associated
radioactive decay process do as it occurs within our blood
stream and the tissues supplied that very same blood?
Is it possible that the elevated risk of childhood
Leukemia could be attributable to ingested quantities
of radon into the mothers bloodstream when she conceives
while living in a home with elevated radon levels thus
impacting the mitosis of the zygote as it progresses into
a fetus? 1 Alpha decay careening into the developmental
process there seems to carry a much greater impact on
a zygote undergoing rapid mitosis than on a fully developed
fetus or adult from a statistical standpoint based on
alpha decays per cell ratio.
This was discussed at a conference some of us attended
at Duke University in 2006 but I'm curious to know if
there has been any subsequent research. Any Takers out
research will bring more answers to these concerns (and
others). Unfortunately regulation is missing while we
wait. Stay tuned.
Tahoe Public Utility District, STPUD, lists radioactive
contaminants in our water that they say are within "acceptable"
limits, or are not regulated.
however, lists at 1000 pCi/L, which is over the 800 pCi/L
recommended by the New Jersey Drinking Water Quality Institute.
Here is the Institute's recommendations:
The members of the New Jersey Drinking Water
Quality Institute (Institute) are pleased to submit to
you their recommendation for a Maximum
Contaminant Level for radon in drinking water.
Radon is a carcinogen known to occur in New Jersey
drinking water supplies at often high levels, with resulting
high health risks. The Institute reviewed health effects,
analytical methods and New Jersey certified laboratory
testing capabilities, and treatment capabilities and costs
for radon in drinking water. As radon is unique among
drinking water contaminants in that 89% of the risk from
radon in drinking water comes from breathing radon in
air that volatilizes out of water, a special Radon Subcommittee
was charged with this review, including assessment of
how to deal with these air exposures.
The statutory health-based goal for establishing
a drinking water standard for carcinogens in New Jersey
is a one in one million excess cancer risk over a lifetime
exposure. The Institute determined that meeting this target
was not appropriate, but implementation of a MCL of 800
pCi/L (lifetime risk of 5 in 10,000) for community and
nontransient noncommunity water systems will protect the
public from unacceptably high concentrations of radon
in drinking water. The Institute also recommends NJDEP
work with the Legislature to enact mandatory radon testing
in indoor air for schools and for homes during real estate
transactions, and to consider other mandatory policies
to further reduce public health risks posed by radon in
the full report.
Ink in Truckee Runs Radon Story
Ink - Independent Media for Truckee • North Lake Tahoe,
ran a story on radon in their Sierra neighborhood. The
article was written by Linda Lindsay, one of the attendees
at the Sierra Club meeting (see below). The article did
a good job of hitting important facts from the presentation
and quoted radon experts such as Susan Howe, director
of University of Nevada Cooperative Extension (UNCE) Radon
Education Program. The article ended with a comment that
I took issue with:
U.S. Green Building Council's LEED certification program
even considers Tahoe a “moderate” radon area and does
not require radon mitigation to be built into LEED-certified
homes. David Gemme, local realtor and vice president of
the Sierra Green Building Association says, “Everyone
should be aware that radon exists, and should test for
it. But I can't see the town jumping on board and creating
legislation around it.” When it comes to radon, Gemme
says, “We should educate before we legislate.”"
comment on the article appears below:
article on radon. One correction on the price of an electronic
continuous radon monitor, if you are referring to the Safety
Siren Pro Series 3, the manufacturer has set $129.99 as
the minimum advertised price, not $120 as stated in the
article. Also a comment on SiGBA's vice president David
Gemme's statement that radon should not be required by legislation:
Radon ordinances are common where radon levels are high,
just as earthquake or flood ordinances are common where
those risks are high. Real estate and building professionals
often oppose efforts to require RRNC (Radon Resistant New
Construction) via a radon ordinance because of fear of business
loss, not because of concern for the occupant's safety.
If education were the real issue they would be going out
of their way to educate and convince their clients about
the high radon in this area and the easy and inexpensive
way to fix it as the building is built."
posted by: Jeff Miner on Mar 14, 2010 at 3:56 PM
article in full.
Sierra Club Presentation
spoke to about 15 - 20 members of the Tahoe Area Sierra
Club at their meeting in Round Hill today. The audience
was very engaged, asked good questions and many were determined
to test their homes.
the Power Point presentation. (You must have Microsoft
Power Point on your PC or Mac to view the presentation.)
visitors to radon at tahoe.com
new visitors in the past year
of Homes in South Lake Tahoe Have Elevated Radon
latest California Department of Health Radon survey of
actual tests in the South Lake Tahoe area shows that 39%
of the homes tested so far have elevated radon readings.
This is more than enough to mark the Lake Tahoe portion
of El Dorado County as a High Radon Potential area, yet
the official EPA Radon Map (nearly 30 years old) shows
all of El Dorado County as Moderate Radon Potential.
real estate transactions in South Lake Tahoe require a
Natural Hazard Report to protect the buyer. That report
shows South Lake Tahoe as a "moderate" radon
area. The U.S. Green Building Council's LEED green building
certification program also shows Tahoe as a "moderate"
radon area and therefore does not require radon mitigation
to be built into LEED certified homes in this area. This
is deceptive and misleading to buyers and builders.
so far no government agency or natural hazard reporting
company, or the U.S. Green Building Council has been willing
to call a spade a spade and report the true radon potential
and actual homes tested for radon in the Tahoe area. The
chart and data below tell the story.
verify the data for yourself, go to the California
Department of Health Radon web page and at the bottom
of the page look at the "test results by zip code
the spreadsheet of Sierra Nevada radon tests
Zephyr Cove Schools Testing for Radon .... Again
classrooms and a custodial office in Zephyr Cove Elementary
School will be retested for radon in the next two weeks
after December test results showed elevated levels in
these areas. George Whittell High School will also be
test for radon because it was not tested in 2009 due to
a boiler system replacement. The results will be posted
Associated Press picked up this article and it was published
in the Sacramento Bee. The Bee has thus far refused to
run any articles about radon in the Sierras. This may
be a break-through.
the article in the Tahoe Daily Tribune
Read the AP article in the Sacramento Bee
WHO (World Health Organization) Radon Handbook
years in development, WHO has published a handbook on
indoor radon which recommends an action level of 2.7 pCi/L,
lower than the U.S. EPA's 4 pCi/L. This reminds us to
mitigate even under 4, to which the EPA now says "consider"
mitigating between 2 and 4 pCi/L. WHO sets the world standard
and the recommendations should be given respect.
material in the handbook reflects the epidemiological
evidence that indoor radon exposure is responsible for
a substantial number of lung cancers in the general population.
This publication is intended for countries planning to
develop their national radon programs or extend such activities,
as well as for stakeholders involved in radon control
such as the construction industry and building professionals."
or order a copy.
Results of NOT Testing for Radon
seeing a story on the news, Joe Linnertz talked to his
wife, Gloria, about getting their home of 18 years tested
for radon. But their house wasn't very old, so they decided
it wasn't necessary.
year later, Joe Linnertz, a nonsmoker, was diagnosed with
lung cancer that his wife later found out was likely caused
by exposure to high levels of radon.
Linnertz now heads up CANSAR's
(Cancer Survivors Against Radon) efforts to push for
greater radon awareness and action.
For NOT Installing the Radon Fan in the Living Space
am often asked by homeowners if it is ok to install a
radon fan in the crawl space or in a closet to accommodate
an easy installation. Several members of the Radon Professional
List Serv sounded off recently on the question of why
not to install a radon fan in the living space. I incorporated
that discussion into one document as a resource when this
question comes up again. This is not the end to the discussion,
of course, but these radon professionals make some compelling
arguments for sticking with EPA protocols.
consensus is to follow EPA guidelines and keep the radon
fan outside or above the living space, as in the attic.
But not to put it in the basement, crawl-space or interior
residents testing for radon, but few are fixing problem
Record Courier reports that Douglas County has the highest
testing rate of any county in Nevada, with the highest
hits of high radon houses. Yet the number of fixes is
very low: 35 fixes out of 514 houses with high radon tests.
The Psychology of Radon rears it's ugly head!
Someone You Know Dies, It Gets Personal
am a member of a list serve for radon professionals where
we share concerns and ask questions of each other. This
message came across about the personal side of radon risk.
just wanted to let everyone know about a customer of ours.
Her name is Cyndi Schmeider. She called me last Jan. because
she had just been diagnosed with lung cancer. She was
a never smoker and a stay at home mom. Her doctor recommended
that she test for Radon. Her home tested at about 8 pCi/L.
We installed a system for her shortly after. She was instrumental
in getting the word out in her neighborhood about Radon
and the importance of testing. She was then on a local
TV station, with us to help get the word out. Since last
year we have installed about 50 systems in her neighborhood.
Almost 100% failure rate in that area, and no
one knew about it. How many lives might have
been saved by her efforts?
She passed away a few days ago, leaving behind a husband
and two children. Did the Radon cause her lung cancer?
I would bet it had a lot to do with it.
I don't care what a map shows for risk, I don't care what
agents or builders say. I push to test every house for
Radon and if they pass to test again in two years and
if it passes again and again.
This is about the 3rd time I have been through this situation
in the last 10 years. I don't know what I would do if
my wife was lost and left our kids like Cyndi has. All
I can do is push on, stand up to the nay-say ers and hope
to prevent this from happening again.
Three Minutes in Front of the El Dorado County Board of
This Tuesday I drove down to Placerville, in the snow,
to be granted a three minute audience with the El Dorado
County Board of Supervisors. I dutifully abridged my discussion
of the Tahoe radon problem and the deplorable inaction
by Environmental Management into the three minute time
slot. Radon may be a problem at Tahoe but is still not
an issue for El Dorado County leadership. The Supervisors
did, however, adopt a resolution declaring January as
"Radon Action Month." If only I could get them
to put some of that "action" into their own
Environmental Management Dept. Apparently the 90% of houses
on the South Shore in high and very high radon potential
regions, according to the California Geological Survey,
(more than Iowa, the highest radon state in the nation!),
does not get anyone there excited enough to do more than
hand out a few free test kits. Excuse me, but the people
of Tahoe deserve a better response to this carcinogen
trapped in their houses.
the presentation that fell on deaf ears
Read the County's
Radon Awareness Program with only 3 out of 18 items
competed in two years.
View the latest local
radon test results
County, NV Has a Radon Problem. Stateline, Zephyr Cove
and Gardnerville Rank High.
to an article in the Gardnerville Record Courier, "...
the county has had one of the (radon test) highest
response rates in the state, with 1,256 valid tests. It
also has the highest single number of results higher than
the Environmental Protection Agency's action level, with
514 in locations all over the county.... (A)n average
of 67.6 percent of Stateline homes tested
(had elevated radon). Zephyr Cover comes
in a close second at 66.3 percent of homes tested. Third
place for the county is Gardnerville's 89460 ZIP code,
which extends from the Gardnerville Ranchos to
Sheridan Acres and Mottsville, one of the county's most
populous regions, where 210 of 383 homes tested
had elevated results."
data comes from the excellent work being done by the University
of Nevada Cooperative Extension Radon Education Program.
image for larger version.
Publishes My Article on the EPA Radon Map
essence of the article is that the EPA radon maps are
out of date and the 2009 California Geological Survey
maps and study should be used by the LEED certification
program to determine if the Lake Tahoe Region is Region
1, "very high" radon potential (which the CGS
survey found) or Region 2, "moderate" radon
potential (which the EPA maps show). LEED mandates radon
mitigation in region 1 areas but makes it optional in
region 2 areas, thus giving home buyers a false sense
of security that they are living in a safe, green home
in an area where over 28,000 people are living in a "very
high" radon potential. The same argument needs to
be made to the Real Estate Hazard Disclosure infrastructure,
but that's a battle for another day.
SiGBA EPA radon map article.
(Sierra Green Building Association) Sponsors Sustainability
The usual suspects gathered once again to discuss sustainability
on the South Shore. Green Building is a force, albeit
a small force, in our local economy. I raised the issue
of radon maps not being accurate, and SiGBA Executive
Director, Donna Walden, asked me to write an article on
radon for the SiGBA newsletter. I also sent copies of
the article to USGBA Northern California and Nevada Chapters
hoping to change LEED requirements in the Sierra Nevada.
email to USGBC Northern California and Nevada Chapters
Read letter to SF Chronicle,
EPA and USGBC
Mining and Geology Board Meeting Recognizes Tahoe Radon
California State Mining and Geology Board, at their November
meeting, cited the California Geological Survey (CGS)
recently published Special Report 211 titled “Radon
Potential in the Lake Tahoe Area, California.”
reported, based on indoor-radon survey results, the radon
potential zone map for Lake Tahoe developed by CGS, and
2000 census data, an estimated 23,400 people in the Lake
Tahoe area live in residences likely to equal or exceed
4.0 pCi/L. An estimated 6,100 people live in houses that
will likely test at 10 pCi/L or more, and about 900 are
estimated to live in houses that will likely test at 20
pCi/L or higher."
the Executive Summary.
Third of Incline Village Homes May Have High Radon
North Lake Tahoe Bonanza reported the tests results of
a study performed by the University of Nevada Cooperative
Extension's Radon Education Program. Douglas County showed
elevated radon levels in more than 40 percent of the homes.
Asked to Petition LEED to Use Current Radon Data
I sent a letter to Eli Meyer, President of our local Sierra
Green Builders Association, asking that organization to
put their considerable "Green Building" weight
behind getting the LEED Certification Program to recognize
that the Tahoe Area has High and Very High radon potential.
The April 2009 California Geologic Survey Radon Map of
Lake Tahoe is much more accurate than the 20 year old
EPA radon maps that show the radon potential around Lake
Tahoe to be only "Moderate." Read
Info at the Barton Health Fair
Dorado County Environmental Health handed out free radon
test kits and info at the Barton Health Fair. Nevada also
had a booth and test kits for Nevada residents. Read
article in the Tribune.
2900 visitors to radon at tahoe.com
United Nations Issues Report on Radon
studies have found direct evidence of a lung cancer risk
from the presence of colorless, odorless radon gas in
many homes, a United Nations committee said in a report
released Tuesday. Officials on the U.N. Scientific Committee
on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR) said the
finding provided the first quantifiable evidence of the
risk in homes from radon, long seen as a potential health
risk. Read U.K.
Rueters article and more complete MSNBC
Mines: Breathe Radon for Your Health??
Mines are alive and well in Montana. Many people have
reported radon treatment to be effective medical treatment
for arthritis, bursitis, and other painful ailments. Hoax?
Hidden truth? Nonsense?? Read the article in the Montana
Great Falls Tribune. Let's see what response the scientific
radon community has to the claim of health benefits from
a radioactive cancer-causing gas. Stay tuned.
Henry Boyea of Radon Control responded: "It
would be interesting to track long-term lung cancer incidence
in these people."
Owner Associations Balk at Radon Mitigation
Woodruff, Environmental Planner from Fort Collins , Colorado
put out this question on the RNPROF Listserv:
Does anyone have experience or suggestions on how to deal
with a condominium Home Owners Association that flatly
forbids radon mitigation?
the answers he received
from radon professionals across the nation.
Bee Runs Story on Tahoe Radon Map
El Dorado County issued a press release on the Tahoe Radon
Map and the Sacramento Bee ran the story. Environmental
Management essentially urged that all residents test their
home. No mention of a call for a radon ordinance or building
radon out in new homes. Read
Daily Tribune also covered the story, as did the San
Jose Mercury, the Los Angeles Times, and many other papers
since it was picked up by Associated Press. The
problem is that none of the papers showed the map!
Since a picture is worth a thousand words, the public
missed the visual impact of seeing the big red area
from Fallen Leaf Lake to Stateline where people live
in South Lake Tahoe.
Tahoe Radon Map Shows Very High Risk
California Geological Survey has released the long awaited
study titled RADON POTENTIAL IN THE LAKE TAHOE
AREA, CALIFORNIA. The geological makeup of the
region closely matched the results of home testing from
the 2007 Tahoe Radon Survey. As you can see from the chart
below, over 70% of the homes in the Lake Tahoe area of
El Dorado County (10,298 out of 13,735) are in the Very
High Radon Potential area. And 77% of the population,
or over 25,000 people, are in the Very High Radon Potential
area. These are not statistics that will likely be ignored!
survey should serve as a wake up call to the agencies
tasked with protecting our health and safety. Let's hope
we see more aggressive radon education and mitigation
efforts in the Lake Tahoe area in the coming months.
on map for larger view of South Lake Tahoe.
Click on chart for larger image.
directly from the CGS web site:
Report 211 - Radon Potential in the Lake Tahoe Area, California
Report (2.3 MB PDF) Download
Lake Tahoe Map (1.6 MB PDF)
Tahoe Radon Map to Real Estate Map
Responds to Freedom of Information Act Request on Radon
in Supervisor's Building
received today the US Forest Service response to my FOIA
request. I will publish the results after I have had a
chance to evaluate it.
El Dorado County Begins to Test County Buildings
Management has finally agreed (though somewhat reluctantly)
to test "selected" County buildings. The memo
from Gerri Silva, M.S., REHS, Director of Environmental
Miner, The Environmental Management Department is
working with the County's Risk Management Department to
assess and conduct initial radon testing in selected County
buildings. Thank you for your concern."
terse tone of the memo seemed to say "go away and
stop bothering us." I had hoped that the County would
be more forthcoming in sharing information about the planned
testing. But at least they are assessing and conducting
initial tests. Time will tell.
Day: Radon At Tahoe Speaks to the Lake Tahoe Business
business owners that attend the Lake Tahoe Business Club
meeting at the Blue Angel Cafe, heard a talk on Radon
and Business At Lake Tahoe. The informal question and
answer format allowed members to better understand radon
and to (hopefully) decide to test their own homes. I stressed
the importance of encouraging a local contractor to get
certified in radon mitigation and testing to service our
radon levels found at Carson Valley schools
in Gardnerville, Nevada and later KTVN
Channel 2 News in Reno reported on elevated radon
readings in Douglas County Schools. The tests were conducted
by Douglas Kladder of Colorado Vintage Companies in March.
(Doug was my radon certification trainer at CERTI in Colorado
Springs back in 2005).
According to results of a district-wide test, the staff
lounge and room 24 at Carson Valley Middle School, room
three at Gardnerville Elementary, room G-9 at Pau-Wa-Lu
Middle School, and more than half a dozen rooms at Whittell
High School contain levels of radon above the EPA's guideline
of 4.0 pico curies per liter.
In the Valley, levels marginally exceeded the guideline,
ranging from 4.1 pico curies per liter at Carson Valley
Middle School to 5 pico curies per liter at Pau-Wa-Lu.
However, the results paint a different picture at Whittell
High School. Out 56 locations tested on the site, seven
yielded elevated levels, ranging from 4.2 pico curies
per liter to 13 pico curies per liter. "
after the Zephyr Cove Elementary radon fiasco last year,
the School District will not want radon to become a political
football. They will likely be serious about dealing with
it properly. That's a good path that other government
agencies should follow.
Commission Asked to Include Radon in City Sustainability
newly formed Sustainability Commission for the City of
South Lake Tahoe met for the first time today. I asked
that radon be included in the City's plan for Sustainability.
I presented three documents:
The letter I had previously sent to Darin Dinsmore on
why radon should be part of a sustainability plan for
The Build Radon Out handout that failed to protect most
of the 252 Angora Fire homes from being re-built without
radon protection. The Radon Ordinance was voted down by
the County Board of Supervisors and the City Council so
building radon out was never required. Hopefully we can
learn from our mistakes.
The LEED For Homes Check List that does not designate
this area as a high radon area, and therefore does not
require radon protection to be built into LEED Certified
Homes. Instead LEED only gives 1 point for radon protection
in what they call a "moderate" radon area.
the new California Radon Map of the Tahoe Basin will change
how this area is viewed by LEED and Real Estate Hazard
reports when it comes out this Summer.
Green Party Hears Radon Presentation
Tahoe Green Party, which meets at Lake Tahoe Community
College, and is a college club, invited me to speak about
radon in the Tahoe Basin. About 15 members engaged in
a lively question and answer session after the Powerpoint
presentation. Rod Walton, club President, recommended
that members test their own homes and said the club would
support efforts to get radon information out to more people.
Freedom of Information Act Filed on Forest Service Radon
At Tahoe filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request
to obtain the facts regarding the high radon readings
in the U.S. Forest Service Supervisor's Building in South
Lake Tahoe, CA. U.S. Forest Service personnel have refused
to answer basic questions regarding testing and mitigating
of the 5 year old three story structure, one of the largest
office buildings in the Tahoe Basin.
a year ago an employee tested his/her workspace for radon
and found very high levels. Once the problem was known,
the Safety Officer was forced to test the entire building
and found reported readings as high as 20 pCi/L with up
to 60 pCi/L in the crawlspace, which is used to circulate
air up into the lobby and throughout the building. At
the same time the Forest Service tested many of their
out-lying buildings and found high radon readings there
also, I was told. Nothing has been reported on these findings.
is a highly visible case because it is documented, it
is a fairly new building, and it is the Federal Government
with the problem.
my written request. I have included the exhausting
(this has been going on for over a year!) but fruitless
dialog between myself and Forest Service personnel trying
to arrange a meeting and requesting test results and mitigation
answers. Nothing like being stonewalled by a Federal Bureaucracy
to make your day! Let's see if an FOIA filing does any
good. Stay tuned. See related item on Dec 2, 2008
the report: Radon
in the Workplace, The OSHA Ionizing Radiation Regulations
OSHA's Occupational Exposure Limits for Radon.
in the News in Incline Village
"Lake Tahoe Area High in Radon Gas"
was the title of an article in the North Lake Tahoe Bonanza.
The author, Kyle Megan, interviewed me for this article
and used my quotes a few times. He also made reference
to the Radon At Tahoe web page, which was a nice bonus.
He discussed why our geology raises the number of high
radon homes in this area. Adrian Howe of the Nevada Department
of Public Health and Wayne Fischer, an Incline resident,
were also quoted in the article. Read
Tahoe Community College President Urged to Test for Radon
of the of the college to the U.S. Forest Service building,
which tested high for radon last year, and also to say
hello to the new LTCC President, Paul Killpatrick, I wrote
an email urging LTCC to test their buildings for radon.
Read my letter.
"Green Tahoe" featured in Sacramento Bee
the Arts and Travel section of the Sunday Bee, reported
on eco-friendly lodgings and restaurants at Tahoe. The
article covered many places to eat that provide organic
food and places to stay in clean and green surroundings.
However, the article failed to mention if the green establishments
offered clean indoor air or if radon had been tested for
or eliminated. I responded to the article blog with this
article for what it was able to cover. There is of course
more to the green movement at Tahoe than this article
was able to mention. My biggest complaint with any discussion
of "Green" at Tahoe is the low profile radon is getting.
Not to shock anyone, but radon causes lung cancer. Radon
exists everywhere, but is higher in the granitic soils
of the Sierra Nevada. LEED, the green building standard,
gives points for radon reduction in new residences but
not commercial buildings. Also, it does not "require"
it because the out of date EPA radon maps show the Sierra
as a "Moderate" radon risk area, whereas the more recent
2007 Tahoe Radon Survey shows the same area as "High"
all want to assume that our indoor air is "safe" but with
half the homes in South Lake Tahoe showing elevated radon
readings, there should be more emphasis on radon testing
and radon mitigation in any discussion of the Green Movement
visitors to radon at tahoe.com
"Builders Don't Take Radon Seriously"
radon mitigator, Jay Bauder, shares my frustration in
not being able to convince builders to use standard RRNC
(Radon Resistant New Construction) methods when building
new homes in a high radon area such as Tahoe. Here is
part of our correspondence that helps to explain the uphill
battle to make Tahoe homes safer. I am especially saddened
that I was unable to convince more than a few of the owners
and builders of the 252 homes destroyed by the Angora
Fire to build radon out when they rebuilt. But this is
what we are up against:
It is depressing. I've been a Radon Mitigator since
1987. I have been talking to builders since the
beginning. I think it boils down to several things.
First and foremost is the fact that builders don't take
radon seriously. Secondly, they view it as an obstacle
to selling their product. Thirdly, ignorance and
lax code inspections and enforcement. I am no fan
of government micro managing, but one of the things I
see are code enforcement officers who wouldn't know a
radon system if it smacked 'em upside the head.
Very few municipalities around here have anything other
than a box to check off on an inspection form.
If there is a pipe, it gets checked off. Somewhere
in the mix is the time factor. Most builders are
too busy with day to day affairs to focus on the radon
issue. I guess time would be 1A. If they took
the radon threat seriously, they would make time, but
if they don't see the value in building a proper radon
system into their homes, nothing will change their minds.
I also learned (when attending the "workshops" with the
PA-DEP), that the Pennsylvania Builders Assoc and the
Pennsylvania Association of Realtors are a couple of very
had given up on even talking to builders about radon,
because it never lead to any work for us. I was
hoping that after attending Trudy Smith's training seminar
(twice) about "Changing the Paradigm", and marketing the
green message, the advantage of a sub-slab system being
used for Active Dampness Control, I was re-energized.
I sat down with 6 different builders. There comments
can best be summarized this way; "Everyone wants to build
green, but no one wants to pay for it."
am again at the point where I'm not going to waste my
time trying to market to builders. They know that
I'm here, and they know if they have any questions I am
here to answer them, but I am tired of throwing time and
money down a hole. I'm sorry if the only idea I
have left is venting my frustration on the internet, but
I'm hoping that by doing so I can make more people aware
of what's going on. Maybe someone else will read
my posts and come up with some fresh strategies.
I sure hope so.
feel free to share this with anyone,
Ask American Profile Magazine To Run Radon Story
At Tahoe has requested that American Profile Magazine
tell the story of how radon affects American families.
The tragedy of loosing a loved one would make a compelling
story if a few of the 21,000 Americans who die each year
from radon induced lung cancer, had their story told in
this well-read magazine. Many other Americans might consider
testing their home after they read about what has happened
to others who have lived in high radon house and did not
know about it. Read
the complete request letter.
UNR Cooperative Extension Begins Radon Outreach
Under the direction of Susan Roberts, the Nevada
Radon Education Program is making "radon waves"
in the Carson Valley and on the Douglas County side of
Lake Tahoe. Adrian Howe, Radiation Physicist and Director
of the Nevada Radon and Radiology program, made a presentation
on radon risk to about 30 residents of both states at
the TRPA building at Stateline. 320 residents of the Carson
Valley heard a similar talk the evening before. Free test
kits were handed out at both events. Expect to see more
activities as the Nevada Radon Program through UNR gets
up to speed.
image for larger version
Daily Tribune story
of Radon "To-Do" List
listing the letter below on the Radon Professional List
Serve, I had several interesting responses from scientists
and radon professionals in the industry, which I have
listed on my Marketing
page. Here's one from William Field:
have been working with a family that unknowingly had a
mine drilled under their home. The mother of the
family died yesterday morning with small cell lung cancer
3 month after diagnosis. They never tested for radon
until last week. The radon test results came back (35
pCi/L) the day before she died. Another statistic,
except to her family and friends.
Here is my "To-Do" List to get the promoting
of radon risk into high gear:
Form an AARST committee to accomplish the items on this
list. I, for one, would be willing to serve on that committee.
2. Examine the role of AARST in the promotion of risk
awareness as opposed to their role in the promotion of
the science of radon, so we avoid being accused of "fear
mongering," as Kevin Stewart warned.
3. Coordinate with the EPA, using Kristy Miller as our
contact person, as William Field suggested. Understand
the benefits of using the EPA as a promoter of radon risk
awareness because the industry is often viewed as being
self serving, as Andy George pointed out, yet understand
EPA's limitations and sometimes lack of public credibility,
as Mike Booth suggested.
4. Coordinate with the Ad Council and understand their
history of radon ads, as Jim Kruger suggested.
5. Review the existing reports and studies relating to
risk communication from past AARST conferences, as Ray
6. Invite such experts as Peter Sandman and Neil Weinstein,
and others in the risk communication field to address
our annual conferences, as Jeff Miner suggested and Trudy
Smith is investigating.
7. Understand our options and power in the radon debate
and know when to "take the gloves off," as Al Gerhart
suggested. In other words, define our goals and then create
a strategy and game plan for getting there.
8. Develop goals and strategies at the national, state,
local and grass roots level to encourage AARST members
to promote radon risk awareness at whatever levels they
are comfortable with, as Robb Packer and Dr. Alan Peterson
This is certainly not the end of the discussion on how
AARST might contribute to increasing public awareness
and acceptance that radon as a high risk hazard. I am
sure there will be many opinions within the AARST membership
on how and why a scientific organization should approach
or should not approach the warm fuzzy social sciences
of public opinion and emotional appeals. We may feel we
have the science of radon pretty well tied down, but judging
from the results so far, we have a long way to go to convince
the public that it's a problem worthy of their time and
effort to correct. If "Working together to save lives"
is really our motto, scientists may have to step outside
their comfort zone and learn to work with marketers.
The Psychology of Radon: Outrage versus Apathy
we learned anything in the last 30 years about why most
people would rather avoid radon than deal with it? I did
some research and found two Rutgers University professors
(emeritus) who have spent their careers trying to understanding
why some people react to high risk situations with apathy
and low risk situations with outrage.
Sandman and Neil D. Weinstein have developed the theory
that RISK = HAZARD + OUTRAGE. They have studied radon
testing and mitigation and classify it as HIGH
HAZARD with LOW OUTRAGE.
we start to understand these 20 and 30 year old studies,
we will have a better chance in communicating radon risk
to people in high risk areas.
is how one radon professional responded:
Your perspective on this as a newcomer to the issue is
refreshing. The psychology of radon awareness is probably
best understood by those of us that provide radon services
to the public. The demand for these services is our sole
source of income. Our businesses thrive or fold because
of public perception. We could fill volumes on radon awareness.
I worked for years for a company providing consulting
services to the commercial nuclear power industry. One
assignment took me into the reactor containment at St.
Lucie Nuclear Power Station during an outage to do damage
surveys with some Florida Power & Light Engineers.
The task was on the overhead crane structure about 40
feet above the fuel pool. Areas of the containment were
taped off and HP Techs were all over keeping us away from
very dangerous radiation areas. It was intimidating to
enter the area dressed in yellow PC's , gloves, boot covers
and hoods and knowing that we were to be exposed to radiation.
We of course wore dosimeters to monitor our exposure.
area was strangely lit and was a weird environment draped
in yellow and purple tape and warning signs. During our
walk and climb to the survey area, I was suddenly struck
by the realization that it felt no different than being
in my living room. I knew rationally that there would
be no sensation but with all the visual warnings and clothing
intuitively you expect to be hot or feel a static charge
or something. But the longer you are there the more complacent
you become. The inability to perceive the radiation
makes you unconcerned about the potential danger regardless
of what your mind knows and the signs say.
Translate this into a homeowner. Home from the workday,
they sit on the couch in the game room warm and comfortable
with the spouse and kids. It is the safest most comforting
environment that life offers. They have heard a bit about
radon, but it doesn't register that it could be in their
home. We continually have home sellers say they
were shocked to find they had radon.
agree with you “What might be needed is to take off the
gloves and start scaring the bejesus out of consumers
with the facts. CANSAR is an excellent start.”
We Radon Stakeholders have been a timid bunch. We have
debated the minutia for years while public apathy grew.
The apathy and years have dampened our outrage and strained
our dedication. The wonderful people of CANSAR are a tiny
representation of the undeserving victims of this preventable
radiation. They should not be subjected to this horrible
disease because public awareness campaigns are too infrequent
and too vague.
The question is: How do you foster awareness and fuel
outrage with minuscule funds and overwhelming apathy?
Radon Detection and Control
Cancer Survivors March on Washington D.C.
Cancer Survivors Against Radon, is one of the most
credible groups to ask for better radon awareness and
action. These folks got lung cancer from radon and survived!
"And," as they put it, "the few of us,
like me, who have linked the cause to radon exposure,
are struggling to survive. It's difficult to create
an advocacy group when 85% of the victims die within 4-5
years of being diagnosed." This group of fighters
are taking their demands for better laws and more action
to Capitol Hil later this month. There will be more on
this as the story develops. Read
their captivating and motivating press release.
District Board Hears Radon Request for New Acadamy
Lake Tahoe Unified School District Board of Education
heard my request that their new Academy building, which
will teach "Green Building," be constructed
using RRNC - Radon Resistant New Construction. This will
be a challenge because getting commercial buildings built
with radon resistant construction, even for "Green"
buildings, will take some persistance and insistance by
Board members. Read
my presentation to see what I mean.
of Supervisors Hear Radon Update
I spoke again at the El Dorado County Board of Supervisors
requesting that they proclaim January as National Radon
Action Month for El Dorado County. I used the opportunity
to review what has happened since last years Resolution.
my request. I also listed last years Radon Awareness
Program goals from Environmental Health and listed the
4 out of 29 line items that were accomplished all year.
Poor performance by E.M. to say the least.
Radon Levels Reported in Northern Nevada
The University of Nevada Cooperative Extension's Radon
Program issued a news report that stated: "... 35
percent of homes tested in Minden and
Gardnerville have elevated levels of radon. Nearly
60 percent of homes in Stateline, Glenbrook
and Zephyer Cove have higher levels of the gas."
news has been covered by at least three Nevada newspapers
and three television station so far. I sent a copy to
the Tahoe Daily Tribune in the hopes that they will run
a story (nothing so far as of 1-5-09). Let's hope this
starts some serious radon awareness in Northern Nevada
and Lake Tahoe during National Radon Action Month!
the coverage in the news media:
Appeal - Reno
Vegas Sun - Las Vegas
Record-Courier - Gardnerville
TV - Reno
TV - Reno
TV - Reno
my letter to Susan Roberts,
Manager of the University of Nevada Cooperative Extension
Radon Program, responding to the news report and requesting
we coordinate our efforts.
visitors to radon at tahoe.com
is National Radon Action Month
Radon web site for information on national and local
County in Nevada, in conjunction with the University of
Nevada Cooperative Extension's Radon Education Program
is conducting a free public meeting Jan. 29, from 7-8
p.m., at Tahoe Regional Planning Agency, 128 Market St.,
am aware of no other events being planned for South Lake
Tahoe, or El Dorado County California, a sad commentary
on our low interest in eradicating radon.
National Radon Poster contest for youth ages 9 - 14
starts now. For the 2009 contest, there were no entries
from California, also a sad commentary.
Supervisor's Building Attempts to Mitigate Radon
United States Forestry Service's flagship building in
South Lake Tahoe discovered elevated radon levels over
a year ago. Continued inquires have finally prompted USFS
officials to share with Radon At Tahoe some of their methods
for fixing the problem in one of the largest office
buildings in the Tahoe Basin. The complete story has
not been fully disclosed yet, but we are encouraged that
a solution is finally being attempted to make the building
safe for employees and the public. Read
my letter and their response so far. I am still puzzled
about the effectiveness of a "crawlspace depressurization"
system without the use of a sub-membrane. I will continue
to monitor this in the hope that more information will
Map of Lake Tahoe Basin? Not Yet.
Map? Available Now.
Radon Map of the Lake Tahoe Basin is still under development.
See other radon
maps for California. While we wait, the California
Geological Survey has made a 2008 Geological Map of the
Lake Tahoe Basin available in poster and digital format.
To order, call Vera, California
Geological Survey, 916-445-5716.
Disclosure of Local Hazards Ignores Radon
local hazards disclosure statement, which is routinely
handed out to buyers by real estate agents on the South
Shore, completely leaves out any mention of radon as a
known hazard in this area. In 2007 the State of California
found that over half the houses had elevated radon levels
in the 9 zip code area of the City of South Lake Tahoe
and El Dorado County portion of the Tahoe Basin, so it
should be disclosed to buyers. Radon At Tahoe is attempting
to work with the South
Tahoe Association of Realtors to add radon to the
list of known natural hazards in this area. Read the local
South Tahoe Association
of Realtors is considering allowing me to address
the Board of Realtors. This would be a great opportunity
to enlist the support of realtors, some of who have seen
radon as a threat to a sale and have downplayed the need
for testing at time of sale. If presented sensitively,
we could gain support from this influential force in our
my second letter. (See below for first letter.)
to Sierra Nevada Alliance
Nevada Alliance has brought together nearly 85 grass
roots groups aimed at protecting the natural environment
of the Sierra Nevada Region. Their mission is "to
protect and restore the natural resources of the Sierra
Nevada for future generations while promoting sustainable
communities." I asked the question: Is protecting
people from radon part of a sustainable community? Read
my letter and their response.
to Barton University Resource Center
better way to get radon out to the community than by partnering
with Barton Memorial Hospital's education and outreach
University? They already perform free health checkups,
among other community services. Radon education and helping
people test for and deal with radon would be the purpose
of this unique partnership. Read
You Test Your Granite Counter Tops for Radon?
Recent news stories of radon coming from building materials,
mainly granite counter tops, have generated concern and
controversy. Could radiation in the granite be contributing
to the radon in the house? Don't panic: most granite counter
tops are safe. It's only a small percent that have a problem,
and then often only in "hot spots". It is likely
that most radon in your home comes from the soil under
the home, not from building materials. Testing the air
in a home and curing the soil radon problem is the most
effective way to keep your family safe from radon.
if you are concerned, Radon At Tahoe is now able to help
home owners test their granite counter tops (or floors)
for radioactive "hot spots" caused by the uranium,
radium or other naturally occurring radioactive elements
that can be found in granite. If you
are building or remodeling a house, we can check the granite
at the fabrication shop before it is cut. Contact
us for a consultation.
photos shows a "hot" piece of granite at a granite
counter top cutting shop. Certainly not every counter
top is this hot, but these are real readings from these
two counter tops. 500 urem/hr is high, by the way. There
is no "safe level of ionizing radiation, but keeping
radiation from all sources to a minimum or at least below
the yearly threshold of 100 millirems is what the Nuclear
Regulatory Commission recommends. I am not a Health Physicist
or Nuclear Physicist so I cannot do radiation dose calculations.
However I can screen for high gamma rays emanating from
a countertop or flooring and if they are high I can recommend
that you call for a trained nuclear specialist to take
it to the next step. (See the discussion on
the granite industry and how to interpret gamma readings
in the update at the end of this posting.)
How does this relate to radon? Hot granite will put out
radon, no doubt. But most radon comes from the soil under
the house and that is what certified radon mitigators
address. Counter top testing is only for the homeowner's
information and peace of mind since the topic recently
made the news. View Nuclear
Regulatory Commission recommended maximum exposure guide.
Contact us to request a test.
some of the discusson on testing granite counter tops
from the Radon Professional List Serve. Very good scientific,
moral and legal discussion of the topic. The jury is still
out on how to ultimately deal with radiation in granite
All Real Estate Transactions Should Include a Radon Test
(or at least disclose it as a hazard).
think that this should be part of EVERY real estate transaction:
choose to have (ACME Home Inspections) conduct an indoor
radon test of the home according to EPA Protocol for an
additional fee of ($XXX.)
( Buyer's Signature )
the strong recommendation of EPA, ACME Home Inspections
and my agent, I have elected not to test the home for
the presence of indoor radon gas and assume all liability
for elevated radon discovered after the transaction closes.
( Buyer's Signature )
is time for Tahoe real estate agents to follow the recommendations
of their own National Realtors Association and the EPA,
and strongly recommend that EVERY house sold be tested
for radon. Read my letter to
South Tahoe Association of Realtors.
Radon Strikes Children Too
Lori A. Folweiler
Bill Brodhaed, a radon professional in Pennsylvania reports:
"I have always assumed that lung cancer only happens
to those 30 years and older. A year ago I was
visiting a home to provide a mitigation estimate and I
learned the family's daughter, Lori, was going through
chemo therapy for lung cancer. She was only 19 years
old at the time. The home was a 1965 ranch style
with a finished basement. The radon levels in the
finished basement had measured 59 pCi/l. Lori
was not a smoker but had grown up in this home.
Last Wednesday she passed away. I heard that
another patient in the hospital said she was an incredible
up-beat person. We were able to reduce the radon
levels in this home but not able to help Lori." Read
obituary in the Morning Call.
the Lori's of the world is the reason Radon At Tahoe exists.
visitors to radon at tahoe.com
Loses Battle With Radon-Caused Cancer
happened in South Carolina, but it could just as easily
have happened in South Lake Tahoe. Monica Pryor, 38, died
today of radon-induced lung cancer, leaving behind a husband
and three children. Monica was diagnosed with the cancer
shortly after the birth of her youngest son. Doctors attributed
the cancer to the high levels of radon in her home. "I've
never smoked a cigarette a day in my life, so it wasn't
from smoking," Pryor said. She encouraged others to test
their home for radon. "The possibility of anyone in this
area having it is huge," Pryor said. "So with a free test,
not to do it seems a little bit foolish to me." Read first
article and second
article and please view the videos.
Sued Over Radon Systems Not Installed
152 West Virginia residents
are suing their builder, Richmond American and its parent
company, Denver based MDC Holings, Inc. claiming the companies
failed to install functioning radon-removal systems in their
homes. A radon specialist discovered that the radon-removal
systems supposedly built by Richmond American were never
installed as legally required under West Virginia law, the
and Laura Bryan, also parties to the May lawsuit, said
their home's radon-mitigation system was really a pipe
you stood outside our house, it appeared the radon vent
was on the roof. But if you tracked the pipe, it just
stopped," said Laura Bryan, who is concerned about the
health of her two teenage children. "It didn't connect
to anything. If this had not been discovered, we don't
know what could have happened over time." MDC, the 10th-largest
homebuilder in the country, declined to comment. See original
posting on June 23, 2008 on this page. Read
full story in the Denver Post.
Vegas International Radon Symposium
At Tahoe will attend the 2008
International Radon Symposium this week in Las Vegas.
The purpose of the conference is to bring together scientists
and radon professionals from all over the world to share
their progress and discuss ideas on getting radon out
of more homes and into the consciousness of more political
leaders. I hope some teaching is provided on how to pass
a local radon ordinance, a task I have initially failed
at, but one at which I still hope to eventually succeed.
Read my letter
to the conference attendees regarding that effort.
visitors to radon at tahoe.com
City Workshop Should Include Radon
City of South Lake Tahoe hired consultant Darin Dinsmore
of DinsmoreSIERRA consulting firm in Reno, to lead area
residents in designing a sustainable city and economy.
I hope to be working with that group to insure that radon
is included as a health and safety issue as we plan for
the sustainable future of our community. Read
my letter to Darin. Read
Tribune article. Read
my shorter version to be entered in the meeting summary.
Radon has dropped to safe levels at Zephyr Cove
Cove Elementary School finally has it's radon under control.
The school district brought in a volunteer group of radon
professionals to help mitigate the radon. William Bell
of the Conference of the Radiation Control Protection
Directors, a nonprofit organization dedicated to radiation
protection issues, reported that previous efforts to control
the gas had been ineffective.
Members of Bell's team included Adrian Howe and Eric Matus
of Nevada's state health department, Bob Stilwell and
George Faggella. They worked with district staff to install
a system that prevents the radon from entering the building
in six buildings. Read
Reports Rates Radon Test Kits
September, 2008 issue of Consumer Reports addresses radon
for the first time. The article was not aggressive enough,
in my opinion, to get many readers to take radon seriously
(the biggest challenge by far, more so than the accuracy
of the test kits), but they did explain the dangers of
lung cancer and they did rate a few of the radon test
kits on the market. Radon test kits have varied in their
accuracy according to studies within the scientific radon
community, specifically AARST
(American Association of Radon Scientists and Technologists).
Now a respectable consumer organization has added to the
data and their marketing should reach a much larger audience.
test kit offered by the State of California DPH Radon
Office, produced by Dr. Home Air of Carrollton, Texas,
was not part of the study. The electronic Safety
Siren that we sell made the test. The EPA allows a
full 25% variance on radon test accuracy, which all test
units are supposed to meet. Reports like this will keep
radon test manufacturers and labs on their toes to do
the job right or loose business. Good Job Consumer
the full article.
Cigarettes are a Major Source of Radiation Exposure?
not on cigarette packets yet, but the authors of a new
study in the American Journal of Public Health hope that
the Polonium-210 in cigarette smoke will generate more
public concern and government regulation. Polonium-210
is one of the radioactive by-products of radon and is
a major cause of the lung cancer associated with radon.
But for fear of the public associating smoking with radiation,
for 40 years the tobacco industry has known about and
covered up the fact that Polonium-210 is in cigarette
smoke. Read full report.
Radon May Have Tie To Childhood Leukemia
the EPA recognizes radon as causing only one type of cancer:
Lung Cancer. However studies from Denmark suggest that
Children who live in homes with high radon levels may
be at increased risk for acute lymphoblastic leukemia
during childhood, but not other childhood cancers. Read
sued over radon
we won't do for a buck! CHARLES TOWN, New York — A total
of 10 current and former homeowners in the Locust Hill
subdivision in Charles Town are suing the builder of their
homes, Richmond American, and its parent company, MDC
Holdings in Denver, for allegedly failing to install functional
radon removal systems, and in one case allegedly installing
fake pipes to intentionally deceive building inspectors.
Pacific Power asked to include radon education with utility
of the goals of the Radon Awareness Program of El Dorado
County Environmental Management, is to include radon education
materials in utility bills. I contacted Sierra Pacific
Power to start the process. Read
letter to SPP. Read
Radon Awareness Program.
email requests were sent to the other utilities:
South Tahoe Refuse
Zephyr Cove students may start year at Kingsbury due to
bottom line is that parents are anxiety-laden about this
thing, and we need to assure parents that their kids will
be in a safe place where radon is low." Read
The Indoor Radon Abatement Act requires all federal buildings
in high risk areas be tested for radon.
to an email from Joshua J. Kerber, MS, Ohio Department
of Health, Radon Licensing Program, it seems that the
Indoor Radon Abatement Act already requires all federal
buildings in high risk areas be tested for radon. I will
cite the Indoor Radon Abatement Act when I contact the
other Federal Agencies in the Tahoe Basin:
US Forest Service
and possibly the TRPA (are they federal, state or regional?)
I will also ask the USFS if they conducted a radon study
of their building, three years ago when it was built,
as the Indoor Radon Abatement Act requires.
Agencies Contacted with Request to Test for Radon
hand delivered the Request to Test for Radon document
to these government agencies in South Lake Tahoe, Placerville,
and Stateline, Nevada. I was usually able to explain the
purpose of testing for radon to the manager of the department.
Time will tell if the managers request radon tests for
their departments and if the requests will actually generate
radon tests, knowing how slowly the wheels of government
turn. But still, it's a start. I think possibly the unions
and employee bargaining units may be the best vehicle
to get radon tests into government buildings because they
work from the ground up and can use the leverage of employee
health and safety issues during negotiations. Thanks to
all I had the opportunity to meet and talk to.
contacted so far:
Lake Tahoe South Shore Chamber of Commerce
Tahoe Regional Planning Agency
California Tahoe Conservancy
Lahontan Water Quality Control Board
Department of Motor Vehicles
Douglas County Parks and Recreation, Kahle Park
Dorado County, South Lake Tahoe:
Library, South Lake Tahoe Branch
Child Support Services
Dorado County, Placerville:
Human Resources and Risk Management
General Services, Facilities Management
Office of Emergency Services
Parks and Recreation
of South Lake Tahoe:
Director of Finance
Recreation Complex, Ice Rink and Pool
and Employee Bargaining Units
El Dorado County Employees Assn, Local #1
Mountain Democrat Newspaper, Placerville, CA
Tahoe Daily Tribune, South Lake Tahoe, CA
Mountain News, South Lake Tahoe, CA
Sacramento Bee, Sacramento, CA
Read news release.
Speak to Board of Supervisors and Request That All County
Buildings be Tested for Radon
El Dorado County Board of Supervisors heard my quarterly
update on radon progress. Some yawned their way through
my three minute presentation. I handed out the EPA/IOG
Report which showed that the EPA has not been effective
in solving the radon problem and that we need to work
harder on the local level; the How-To-Build-Radon-Out
document, which I hand delivered to Angora Fire victims
and found that most did not know anything about radon,
indicating that the County "Outreach and Public Education"
is not terribly effective. I used the radon problem in
the USFS building to highlight the need to test all County
buildings. I also handed out the Request to Test document
(view all documents below) Read
my presentation After the presentation I walked to
the agencies in the El Dorado County Government Complex,
handed out the Request to Test document, and talked to
managers about why they should test for radon. See agencies
Supervisor's Building Reports High Radon
brand new (4 years new) U.S. Forest Service building near
Al Tahoe behind the post office in South Lake Tahoe has
reported high radon readings. The designers apparently
did not take into account that Tahoe has high radon potential,
and did not take steps to build radon out, as the EPA
recommends in high radon areas. Radon tests of 16, 20,
and 30 pCi/L in some offices were reported.
testing was done by chance because one of the employees
was getting head aches and decided to test to see if radon
was the problem. Radon causes lung cancer, not headaches,
but the high results of the test alerted the safety officer
to test further, confirming high radon levels throughout
designers made use of a plenum to circulate air throughout
the building, but did not plan on radon accumulating in
the plenum and be circulated throughout the building with
the air. Hopefully this embarrassment to the Federal Government
will be a warning to other government agencies to test
for radon in their buildings (see Request to Test handout,
below). The Forest Service plans to meet with a design
team to try and figure out how to mitigate the building.
Radon At Tahoe offered our services but so far the USFS
has declined the offer.
EPA Office of Inspector General Says " We're Not
Doing Enough to Protect Public"
two decades after passage of the 1988 Indoor Radon Abatement
Act (IRAA), exposure to indoor radon continues to grow.
Efforts to reduce exposure through mitigation or building
with radon-resistant new construction have not kept pace.
Of 6.7 million new single family detached homes
built nationwide between 2001 and 2005, only about 469,000
incorporated radon-resistant features. Of 76.1 million
existing single family homes in the United States in 2005,
only about 2.1 million had radon-reducing features in
at Tahoe distributes "Request to Test" document
to government office buildings in South Lake Tahoe
speaking to the City Council (see below), I drove to nearly
every city, county, state and federal building on the
South Shore and handed out the "Request to Test"
document. The document states "Radon At Tahoe
respectfully requests that every Federal, State, County
and City building, whether rented or owned, in the Lake
Tahoe Basin be tested for radon." The
document lists the basics about radon and then goes on
to explain the two school district tests and the new US
Forestry Service building with incredibly high radon readings.
Those high readings in a new government office building
inspired me to request that all government buildings be
process of driving around town took the better part of
a day (with more still to do), but meeting with receptive
government workers who were open to being protected from
radon was gratifying. Time will tell how many respond
by testing. I feel they would be hard pressed to say no.
I will speak to the El Dorado County Board of Supervisors
next week. Read
Request to Test document.
Radon at Tahoe speaks before City Council
gave my "quarterly radon update" to the City
Council during the public comment 3 minute time slot.
I praised the city building department for handing out
Radon Basic Facts and architectural drawings of RRNC (Radon
Resistant New Construction) systems with all new house
plan packets. I passed out the Build Radon Out flyer I
handed out to the victims of the Angora Fire, and I challenged
the City Council to test all city government buildings
for radon. See item above.
visitors to radon at tahoe.com
Couple pull children from school over radon worries
Lake Tahoe parent Heather Howell explained to the Douglas
County School Board on May 21 why she and her husband,
Douglas County Planning Commissioner Lawrence Howell,
pulled their two sons from Zephyr Cove Elementary School.
"As parents, we felt our children were not safe," she
said. "Because the district has taken too long to make
radon mitigation a priority, I feel I can no longer trust
them to accomplish other things or take care of basic
Accounts May Pay for Radon Testing and Mitigation
are reports that radon mitigation is a covered expense
under many Health Care Spending Accounts, similar to lead
paint removal. In many cases it seems that various providers
do not even require a letter, while others want proof
that the radon averages above 4 pCi/L. This is truly intended
as a prevention measure! Check with your HSA provider
to be sure.
to Build Radon Out Flyer Distributed to All Angora
Fire Building Sites
an attempt to educate and persuade more contractors to
use RRNC (Radon Resistant New Construction) methods when
they rebuild in the Angora Fire area, Radon At Tahoe distributing
a flyer to all building sites in the Angora Burn Area.
The flyer is also available in the El Dorado County and
City of South Lake Tahoe Building Departments, as well
as below. One side of the flyer is an EPA Building Radon
Out poster. (This is the same poster we hope to place
in the El Dorado County Building Department. More on that
later). The other side lists the building requirements
for RRNC and encourages builders to either hire the process
out to a certified radon mitigator, or to read the books
and do the job themselves. Read
Anti-radon activist running for
Douglas County School Board
Felton, a vocal critic of the Douglas County School District
in its handling of radon mitigation at Zephyr Cove Elementary
School and the closure of Kingsbury Middle School, has
filed for School Board Area 3 in Lake Tahoe, challenging
incumbent and board vice president Cindy Trigg.
"Many parents, and I'm among them, have been frustrated
trying to handle issues through the incumbent," Felton
said. "In some areas, she has considered her own views
more valid and important than those of her constituents."
with Environmental Management and Building Department
on Radon Plan Progress
At Tahoe met today with Ginger Huber of El Dorado County
Environmental Management and Bob Green of Development
Services to evaluate the actual progress on the Radon
Awareness Program. Many items have not been addressed,
but some progress has been made. More on the meeting later.
Granite Countertops Bad for Your Health?
a popular upgrade for new homes, but could your granite
countertop actually be a hazard to your health? The family
who agreed to have their granite countertop tested for
radiation wants you to know the answer to that question.
They asked that their identity not be revealed, but they
would like to share what was found at their home.
living in a world that has radiation in it. And there's
nothing that you can do to stop it. However, that's above
background. That is an enhanced source of radiation,”
said Bill Llope. Llope is a Rice University physicist.
article and view video clip from 11 News in Houston, Texas.
video on YouTube.
will report on radon scientist's reaction to this news
Published on May 14th, 2008
Posted in Health
& Indoor Air Quality
The Marble Institute of America better get ready for
another round of fighting because the issue of radon in
granite countertops is back. For the past decade, the
MIA has been trying, with much success, to squash the
rumor that granite countertops have the potential to add
dangerous amounts of radon in the home. A new study being
conducted by Houston area not-for-profit BuildClean
is raising old fears about the dangers of granite
countertops, and its preliminary results show that while
most granite countertops in the study contain very little
to no radon at all, the countertops that do contain radon
have levels that are frighteningly high. While consumers
can be secure in the fact that the vast majority of granite
is perfectly safe, a small percentage is still in question,
and no independent scientific study exists to assuage
The first issue of Solid Surface in 1995 explored the
possibility that granite countertops may pose a health
risk. Soon, the MIA issued their response
, which attacked the credibility of the science involved
in the study as well as the fact that the advertisers
in the journal included companies that competed with granite
countertop manufacturers. But one phrase in the response,
a highlighted phrase no less, is troubling: “…actual levels
of radon gas emmissions are so low as to be insignificant
and generally represent no threat.” As a father, I don't
want to be assured that there is “generally” no threat
to my family. I want to know there is no threat. And after
BuildClean found that 3 of 95 granite countertops contained
harmful amounts of radon, would the MIA consider such
a small number to be “generally” no threat? I'm sure the
owners of those three countertops are not reassured.
Look around for information on radon in granite and you
will find many sites telling you the “truth” or uncovering
“myths” about radon. Since many of the statistics cited
are the same, it's clear that much of the information
comes from the MIA response linked above or from an updated
(though with the same references) MIA
PDF . My personal favorite was a site titled “ Ask
an Expert - 9 Myths about Granite ” where they claim
that “No one today takes credit for starting the rumor,
and certainly no one supports it.” No one? They then make
the claim that granite actually has healing properties.
Most troubling is the fact that, as experts, they don't
seem to know that “lose” is spelled with only one “o.”
The most common argument you'll find, that radon occurs
naturally, really needs to be taken out of their playbook.
Just because it's on the periodic table of the elements
doesn't mean I want it in my house. I'm talking to you,
In late 2007, the MIA scuffled
with Home Safety Systems, which sells radon detectors.
Like the fight over the original journal article, this
seems to be another example of competing companies arguing
science, which doesn't sit right with me. The current
BuildClean study is funded in part by Silestone and Cambria,
two competitors of granite countertops. (Ironically, Silestone
is a sponsor of the “Ask the Experts” article above -
their logo is at the bottom of the page.)
So how do we start trusting that granite is safe? An
independent study done by the EPA would be a good start.
Leave corporate interests out of it. And don't give us
general findings - tell us exactly what was found. Since
radon is found naturally in some parts of the earth, the
MIA needs to admit that there is a possibility that some
granite will contain radon, and then show how they are
making sure such slabs do not make their way into our
homes. Are granite countertops screened for radon before
reaching the consumer? (Maybe the folks over at Home Safety
Systems can help the MIA out with that.) Otherwise, without
solid assurances, it won't be long until consumers reject
For information on green alternatives to granite, try
Counter Culture .
air quality , kitchens
Gary Hodgden comments:
Just a quick note: While overall contribution to
indoor radon levels to any significant degree from granite
countertops, pool tables or marble floors is fairly unlikely
in most situations, the industrial side of
this question strikes me as the true, untold story.
I imagine milling and finishing sites as I imagine the
old brake factories where asbestos exposure caused the
bulk of asbestos deaths. As we know, the release
of radon from powered granite would far exceed anything
imaginable from any intact chunk of granite. In
addition, the inhalation of such dust would take the concern
to a completely different level of magnitude.
No doubt, there are several test devices for indoor radon
where some guidance should be specified and such work
for a generic statement in standards is underway.
Bee Article on Lung Cancer Ignores Radon
Cramer headlined the Scene section of the Friday Sacramento
Bee with a story on lung cancer in non-smoking woman.
problem is that she left out the probable cause: radon,
except for the off-handed mention of the word. Read
1798 visitors to radon at tahoe.com
Government compensation to uranium miners
American Cancer Society warns that smoking greatly
increase the risk of lung cancer from exposure to radon.
people exposed to higher levels of radon, it is especially
important to quit smoking. Evidence has shown that the
combined effect of cigarette smoking and radon exposure
can cause lung cancer. For miners, the synergy between
smoking and radon exposure has resulted in extremely high
For those miners whose health was compromised by exposure
to radon, the United States has established a national
compensation approach through the Radiation Exposure Compensation
Act, passed in 1990 (Radiation Exposure Compensation Act
Committee) and amended in 2000. The act began
with an apology to the uranium miners and offered compensation
to miners for lung cancer and selected nonmalignant
lung diseases, if selected criteria were met. Health care
professionals should be aware of the availability of this
compensation for eligible persons."
Read the full article.
American Cancer Society is still officially silent on
helping with local efforts to publicize or correct radon
problems in the Sierra Nevada. Neither the national headquarters
nor local chapters have thus far joined us in campaigning
for radon reform in residential housing or commercial
buildings. Radon at Tahoe will continue to press for local
Wall Street Journal Runs Radon Story
might be the ugliest home improvement. Last month, I finally
did something about my radon problem." Thus begins
the story in the Wall Street Journal about a reporter's
encounter with a radon installation. Radon is getting
some well deserved play on the national level. Read
Channel 2 News runs Radon Story
For the second time in three months, Reno News 2 KTVN
has run a story on radon.
The Silent Home Invader That Can Kill
By Dennis Thompson , HealthDay
March 28 (HealthDay News) -- You can't see, smell or taste
radon. The gas emanates naturally from the soil, seeping
up into homes that rest on the ground. The only way to
avoid it, really, is to have a house on stilts.... Read
2008 National Radon Poster Contest
National Safety Council, in partnership with the U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department
of Agriculture, sponsored the 2008 National Radon Poster
Contest for children ages 9-14 to generate interest, enthusiasm,
and action about radon safety and to increase the number
of homes tested for radon. Click image for larger
view. View other winners at the NSC
schools could enter posters for the 2009 contest. See
NSC web site for details.
Collaboration Meeting Urged on Radon Education
the defeat of the radon ordinance by the County of El
Dorado Board of Supervisors, Radon At Tahoe requested
a "Stakeholders" Meeting to review progress
and set goals for better radon education and "encouragement"
of RRNC in the Tahoe Basin. Building Services, Environmental
Management, Radon At Tahoe and the California Public Health
radon scientist were proposed as attendees. Read
Now Recommends Mitigation at Lower Levels
Douglas County School Board President, Teri Jamin, received
a rare hands-on communication from EPA Radon Team Leader,
Phil Jalbert rearding the school's attempt to test and
mitigate the radon at Zephyr Cove Elementary School. One
very interesting inclusion in the letter was the EPA's
recommendation that mitigation for radon be done at levels
BELOW the action level of 4 pCi/L.
quote Mr Jalbert, " Recent radon
risk assessments confirm that
the risk at relatively low levels
of radon is significant. For this reason,
EPA recommends that mitigation be considered at levels
even below our action level of 4 pCi/L
(and specifically between 2 and
4 pCi/L) for residential structures."
Read the letter
The Impossible Dream
To have a radon ordinance in a town with high radon.
The El Dorado County Board of Supervisors rejected a radon
story in Tribune. Read
my unsuccessful attempt to convince the Board otherwise,
in my three and a half minutes of public comment. It was
a day spent waiting in the County Board room in Placerville
from 9am until 2pm when the item finally came up on the
agenda. My words fell on deaf ears as the Supervisors
had already decided to kill the ordinance: The measure
passed 3 to 1 to follow staff (Building Department, Larry
Lohman's) recommendation to not pursue a radon ordinance.
Norma Santiago was the lone desenter. Read
the proposal What was learned: Logic may carry little
weight in a political arena. Duh! Also, work more within
the system rather than presenting before the Board. Read
Press Release sent to LA Times, Sac Bee, and Tahoe Daily
Radon Maps .... we're still waiting
the 1989 statewide California
Radon Survey and the 2007 Tahoe
Radon Survey by the California Department of Public
Health found that the Sierra Nevada is a high radon risk
area, we are still waiting for the California Geological
Survey to publish the results in the form of Radon Geology
Maps that can be used for Natural Hazard Disclosure reports,
for LEED Green Building radon requirements and for building
and planning departments to use in recommending or requiring
RRNC (Radon Resistant New Construction) techniques. Read
my letter to the CGS.
Building for Angora Fire Victims
Supervisor Norma Santiago organized a Green Building Open
House at LTCC to help Angor fire victims find "green"
resources for rebuilding after the fire. It was well attended
by home owners looking for information, builders looking
for clients and agencies looking to help with the process.
Radon At Tahoe had a table and gave out literature and
answered questions on building radon out. There is a growing
interest in green building and LEED Certification, which
requires RRNC (Radon Resistant New Construction) in high
and Real Estate
gave a Powerpoint presentation to the real estate agents
at Dickson Realty. Dennis Liebl, Broker/Manager of Dickson
Realty asked if I could teach his agents the basics of
radon, how to test for it, how to fixit and the liability
issues. I used the model of a Radon Stragegy and suggested
that every real estate agent should develop their own
radon strategy to be prepared for questions and to avoid
liability. View the Radon
and Real Estate Resource Sheet.
Tribune Ignores Council's Radon Decision
Tahoe Daily Tribune did not report on the City Council
meeting and the radon ordinance, even though the had previously
written an editorial, on September 14, last year, clearly
in favor of radon public safety measures and stating that
the City Council "...would be well advised to address
the issue (of radon) at its next meeting...." Link
to story. Read
copy. City Editor, Elaine Goodman wrote me asking
my recollection at what happened at the Council meeting
and I wrote back to her to answer her questions and to
chide her for missing coverage of this important radon
Council Rejects Radon Ordinance
Sad. The South Lake Tahoe City Council voted 4 to 1 to
discontinue discussions on adopting a radon ordinance
for the City. Ron Ticknor, City Building Official made
a presentation that did not support an ordinance. I was
given the opportunity to respond but was not able to change
any minds. Council members Kathay Lovell, Mike Weber,
Bill Crawford and Jerry Birdwell voted to end discussion,
only Ted Long saw merit in continuing discussion on radon
and so voted. We are sorry that the City chose not to
take action on this safety issue and protect its citizens
from this cancer causing gas. Surprisingly, this comes
at a time of renewed interest in radon from other quarters.
I will be speaking to 30 realtors at a local real estate
agency on Tuesday and to Angora Fire victims wanting to
rebuild "Green" at a LTCC workshop sponsored
by County Supervisor Norma Santiago on Thursday. Radon
is not dead yet. Stay tuned.
Douglas County School Board Makes Radon Mitigation No.
Douglas County School Board voted Tuesday night to make
radon mitigation at Zephyr Cove Elementary School the
district's No. 1 priority.
"I don't want there to be any question whatsoever: this
is our largest priority," said board Vice President Cynthia
Trigg during the meeting at Douglas High School. "There
is no more time to waste." Read
Daily Tribune Features Radon on Front Page
the Tribune and the Mountain News reported on the test
results at the local school districts. Radon is starting
to make headlines, as our public ic institutions begin
testing and fixing their radon problems.
articles note that radon in the home is a larger problem
that can be fixed by individuals. Yet public awareness
has not yet translated into public action to test and
fix their homes, at least not on a wide-scale basis. Yet
these articles add to the growing body of knowledge and
the article. Read a copy
of the article.
visitors to radon at tahoe.com
News runs story of Zephyr Cove Schools
a free copy at your local news stand or click
here to view an image of the article.
School Board to review radon removal
The Douglas County School Board will review current radon
mitigation tactics at Zephyr Cove Elementary School during
their board meeting Tuesday. The meeting starts at 3:30
p.m. at Douglas High School in Minden. District Business
Services Director Holly Luna and Dirk Roper, mitigation
radon consultant with Fallon Heating and Air, will present
a summary report on radon and the alternative mitigation
method called active slab depressurization. The sub slab
would create a vacuum under the school, which would catch
all the gas from the ground, including radon, and release
it in another area away from the students. This would
prevent the radon gas from entering the school.
The district currently is using high-efficiency particulate
air filters, which filters out radon progeny — radioactive
particles into which radon decays — after it enters the
Article in the Record-Courier.
This comes after the District invested a few thousand
dollars in HEPA air filters. Sub-slab depressurization
is the EPA-recommended approach.
Makes Cover of Tahoe Quarterly
not exactly the cover of the Rolling Stone, but this fashionable
Tahoe lifestyle magazine promoted radon on the cover and
followed up with an informative and well-written article
on radon in the Tahoe area. The Mountain Home 2008 issue
is not yet up on their web site
but you can read the article from images
here or pick up a copy at your newsstand.
We consider this an important media development because
many of the readers and advertisers of the Tahoe Quarterly
have yet to understand that radon is a problem or to come
to terms with dealing with it. Articles like this get
radon on to the table tops and into the conversation of
builders, designers and owners of high-end properties
around the Lake. Real estate professionals will begin
to see more requests for testing of houses for sale as
radon goes mainstream.
Reports on Radon News
Tahoe Daily Tribune ran two new briefs on radon.
and Radon: Is there a connection?
treating a house for radon increase the chance of termites?
Will laying down a radon barrier cloth over the previously
dry, aired-out soil under a house, change the soil's moisture
content to make it a breeding ground for termites? Will
effective radon treatment make effective termite treatment
difficult or impossible?
questions were brought up by my friend Ole Olson of Mountain
Termite of South Lake Tahoe. I did some research and found
surprisingly nothing written on the topic so I addressed
my concerns to a termite researcher, Dr. Vernard Lewis,
of the University of California, Berkeley, a radon scientist
at the EPA, and the members of the professional radon
group, AARST. Read
my letter while we await their response.
I have forwarded your comments to a radon mitigation person
here. I did a quick look around our site and did not find
any discussion of pests or termites or infestation related
to radon mitigation systems. I did a google search and
noted that a number of home inspectors in more than a
couple of states offer multi-tiered inspection services
for radon and termites. Have you spoken to any of the
local home inspectors to see what they recommend and how
they deal with the issue? Just a suggestion...
(Note: In California, radon testing and mitigation
require certifications that no home inspectors in the
Tahoe Area currently possess, according to the California
Department of Public Health Radon web page (as of 2-1-08)..
Also, termite inspection requires a separate license in
California and is performed by termite inspection companies.
I have found no one locally knowledgeable on the topic
of termites and radon.)
...A sub membrane depressurization technique in theory
could weaken ( dilute ) a already existing pesticide application
in a exposed earth crawlspace because of the increased
ventilation taking place under the membrane. I have no
working experience with this theory. The amount of ventilation
that takes place under the membrane would depend on a
number of things like : Is the membrane tightly sealed
to the foundation walls and to other structural components
and how much replacement air is coming from outside the
foundation walls. Not knowing the life cycle of termites,
I don't think the membrane would stop the termites from
returning to the soil because they could go outside the
foundation walls. If I'm not mistaken the pesticide application
can take place inside and outside the crawlspace foundation
wall. So if a radon system is in place the application
can take place on the outside. My only recall on a potential
problem with pesticide application and radon systems is
when a sub slab pressurization system technique is employed
and the pesticide vapors can be forced into the living
Posted by Gary Hodgden from AARST on
Wednesday, January 30, 2008 - 02:20 pm: With plastic sheeting,
it would not seem realistic that moisture content of soil
beneath would alter the habits of termites. They
travel regardless of moisture wherever they can find food
(cellulose). A cloth soil barrier is a problem for life
span of the membrane as well as anything that might be
composed of cellulose (termite bait). G Hodgden
Posted by Dave Hill from AARST on Wednesday,
January 30, 2008 - 03:54 pm: I agree with Gary. I would
also like to add that your depressurization system should
be preventing the build-up of moisture under the barrier.
In fact, the system should substantially reduce the moisture
entry into the crawlspace itself. Which is good for reducing
insect activity in general. Dave Hill
consensuses is that radon abatement should not create
a termite problem because the system actually dries out
the soil in the process of eliminating radon from under
the radon barrier. However, what was not mentioned is
that a correct radon installation should not have the
radon barrier or plastic sheeting attached to wood, either
on the support posts or on the sill plate above the foundation
wall. Doing so would allow termites to migrate up into
the wood, under cover of the radon barrier and be out
of view unless the barrier cloth was removed for inspection,
a tiresome job! It's important to use a good polyurethane
adhesive, such as S-M SM7108 (see Supply Page) that adheres
the radon barrier and plastic to concrete block. This
will keep all wood exposed to air and allow for visual
termite inspection without removing the radon barrier.
South Lake Tahoe City Council Hears Radon Update
spoke before the City Council to give a radon update and
handed out a packet consisting of my notes, the radon
resolution adopted by the County Board and the Radon Awareness
Program written by Environmental Management. I told the
Council that the County appears to be dropping the ball
by not pursuing a radon ordinance and that those of us
in the Tahoe portion of El Dorado County many have to
take the lead if we expect to protect ourselves from radon.
I volunteered to be on a committee to study the radon
issue for the city.
Read the update.
Channel 2 Reno News runs story on radon
of the few television stations to report on radon, according
to Goggle, our own KTVN Channel 2 News in Reno ran a short
story on the Sunday news show. The story explained the
dangers of radon, that January is National Radon Awareness
Month, and that it is easy to test for and fix. Thousands
of Sunday news viewers heard the bi-line: "Radon
Gas More Deadly Than Carbon Monoxide Poisoning."
Read the news
story. Read my
Weak Response from County Building Officials
talking to Larry Lohman, it appears that the recommendations
to the Board will be to simply include the language of
Appendix F of the IRC into Title 15 of the County Building
Code. This means that if a builder chooses to add radon
mitigation to a building, he must do it in a way that
meets the requirements of Appendix F. After we have learned
that our area has the highest radon readings in the state
and among the highest readings in the nation, this is
a poor response from our county officials who are supposed
to be concerned for our health. The only way to really
build radon out is to require it on all new buildings
via a radon ordinance, as most other high radon areas
have done. I will try to influence our elected county
officials to enact a radon ordinance as a proper response
to our radon problems. In the mean time, I will follow
the progress of this issue as it develops.
in on a Radon Ordinance
El Dorado County Board of Supervisors has stopped just
short of directing the Department of Development Services
(Building Department) to draft a radon ordinance. Instead
they asked Environmental Management and the Planning Department
to take two months to come up with "recommendations"
to address the radon issue. It is not clear if that means
they will spend the time developing a radon ordinance.
I have offered my assistance but so far have not been
asked to participate.
is how the Board of Supervisor minutes read:
08-0099 Supervisor Santiago recommending Environmental
Management and Development Services Departments work together
to develop a Radon
Ordinance for new construction in the Tahoe Basin.
motion was made by Supervisor Santiago, seconded by Supervisor
Briggs to request the Planning, Building and Environmental
Management staff to return to the Board on March 25, 2008
with recommendations addressing the radon issue.
Yes: 5 - Dupray, Baumann, Sweeney, Briggs and Santiago
and when a radon ordinance is drafted and adopted, it
will be the first radon ordinance in California.
Radon At Tahoe would consider this to be a major accomplishment
of our three year effort to gain support for radon awareness
in the Tahoe area. Read
my letter to Larry Lohman, Deputy Director - Building
Bee Publishes My Letter on Radon
the first time, and after much effort and many letters,
The Sacramento Bee finally published one of my letters
on radon. My letter was critical of the Bee's lack of
reporting of radon news in the Tahoe area. Let's see if
they cover the radon ordinance story.
Dorado County Board of Supervisors issue Resolution on
National Radon Awareness Month and receives Radon Public
El Dorado County Board of Supervisors has finally taken
action regarding radon nearly a year after I first addressed
the board in February, 2007. The resolution is a benign
statement that radon is bad, without taking action on
how to fix the problem. One of the WHEREAS's states that
"one in 15 homes across the United States has an
elevated radon level," but the resolution leaves
out the fact that one in every two homes in South Lake
Tahoe has the same elevated radon level. It's a start,
but the Board stopped short of requesting that Development
Services (our Building Department) adopt the RRNC code
in IRC Appendix F into a radon ordinance in the Lake Tahoe
portion of El Dorado County, as Radon At Tahoe has been
asking for. Read
Dorado County Environment Management presented a Radon
Awareness Program to the Board. The plan covers most of
the important areas Radon At Tahoe has been calling for.
The goal for any radon-aware citizens out there will now
be to monitor the progress of this plan. One important
part of the plan is the recommendation that Development
Services draft a radon ordinance. When I last spoke to
Larry Lohman, Deputy Director of Development Services
and Building Official, he said he was not inclined to
draft a radon ordinance unless he was directed to do so
by the Board. A recommendation by Environmental Management
may not have the same clout as a directive by the Board.
That will also have to be monitored in the coming weeks.
But at least we have the government officials talking
about radon. Next will be to see how the City of South
Lake Tahoe deals with radon. Read the Radon
about Radon at Zephyr Cove Elementary School
debate is heating up on the proposed closing of Kingsbury
Middle School and the radon found and not fixed at Zephyr
Cove Elementary School. Richard and Gary Bolan of Dickson
Real Estate have this rather comprehensive report on their
blog page. How Douglas County handles the issue of radon
at Zephyr Cove, the proposed closure of Kingsbury Middle
School, and particularly the parent's complaints about
it, could be a lesson on how not to deal with radon in
a public institution.
view the blog:
at Tahoe invited to Radon Awards and Recognition Ceremony
in Washington D.C.
Invited!) January is National Radon Action
Month. The U.S EPA has asked not just Radon
at Tahoe, but representatives from government,
non-profit organizations, private industry, and communities
across the country to attend a ceremony on January 10,
2008 to recognize the accomplishments of radon leaders
from the public and private sectors. View
agenda. We won't be able to attend this time. Maybe
Presentation on Radon in Water given to South Tahoe Public
Board listened to my presentation on reducing radon in
our public water supply by using aerators at the well.
They asked questions, but the final result was that they
were not going to spend money to reduce radon below what
they are required to do by the federal government. Currently
the EPA Water Bill is only proposed (since 1996!) with
little hopes of passing. Hopefully STPUD will see the
benefit of reducing radon as a public health and publicity
benefit even if not a federal requirement. Read
Miner inducted into AARST - The American Association of
Radon Scientists and Technologists
AARST web page is a good place
to go to view the latest research and points of view on
radon issues. From the AARST Mission Statement: AARST
is a nonprofit, professional organization of members who
are dedicated to the highest standard of excellence and
ethical performance of radon measurement, radon mitigation
and transfer of radon information for the benefit of members,
consumers and the public at large.
we ready to market radon better? Read the Marketing
Page to find out about our Market Radon Project.
Radon Test Kits in Incline Village
of Nevada Cooperative Extension Radon Program will make
available free radon test kits for NEVADA residents. Test
kits will be available at their Reno, Carson City and
Douglas county offices and in Incline Village, NV. This
is part of the preparations for National Radon Action
Month coming up in January.
University of Nevada Cooperative Extension
Washoe County/Incline Village
865 Tahoe Blvd. Suite # 110
Incline Village , NV 89452
Phone: (775) 832-4150
And we get Letters...
from Tahoe to Wisconsin have written to say thanks and
to recount their progress in testing and fixing their
homes. Here are some samples:
Kingsbury Grade, Stateline, Nevada, 11/9/07:
I have checked out your website and found it to be very
informative…I purchased the Pro Series 3 and have just
passed my first 48 hours for testing ….the reading came
out at 22! Talk about a freak out…I have now moved
it to another location and will be waiting for the next
48 hours…apparently we have a very big Radon problem!...we
have lived here for four years and are located on lower
Kingsbury …do you recommend any contractors that work
on this problem …because of personal health concerns (history)
I do not want to do the fix myself…although I have been
in the craw space way to many times…please advise…as this
is something that we need to get completed…
Tahoe Quarterly, 11/15/07:
I am writing an article about radon in the Tahoe Basin
for Tahoe Quarterly magazine, and so far all roads lead
to you! Are you available for a brief chat? The focus
of the article is essentially what is radon, why Tahoe,
and what to do about it. I am surprised, given the findings,
that not more is being done at the county or state level...I
have calls into those agencies as well.
From La Crosse, WI, 12/4/07:
I just wanted to say thanks for the web site.
I just got the results back from testing our basement
for radon after I installed a mitigation system…myself.
I read and reread your website many times in addition
to consulting a professional installer by phone and reading
radon installation codes online. I tested twice—short
term and long term--in two years before mitigation and
had results of 7.1pci and 7.4pci. After mitigation the
result is 1.4pci. With all supplies vs. an estimate I
had from an installer, I saved $1650 (we have a challenging
crawl space). That's even with using the best adhesives,
manometer, piping, back draft testing, labels, installing
separate breaker and wiring, Fantech 150, etc. Everything
meets/exceeds code. I'm a perfectionist, so I plan to
add plastic sheeting to some of the seams and retest in
a few months just to be sure. It's been in the 10s-20s
here in WI. The house is closed and the furnace is running
steady (ducts run in the crawl space), so the result seems
pretty accurate. I only waited a couple days before testing,
again for your help. I put off the mitigation because
of the cost for a few years, but got the system done before
our new born son (our first) came home from the hospital.
Now he has a great start on his college fund!
homeowner, South Lake Tahoe, CA, 10/17/07
I took the radon test last spring and had a high
reading. I called you and you sold me the book and a continuous
monitor. The readings went down for the summer, but are
now going up again. So... I have now read the book, come
up with plans, and made many lists. I've also come up
with many questions. I plan on doing the work myself.
I would like to meet with you so you could go over my
plans with me, answer my questions and make sure I've
understood this whole thing. Do you do this kind of thing
- is it part of your consulting business? If so, how much
do you charge?
Washoe Tribe Environmental Specialist, 2/17/07:
I was in attendance at your Radon Lecture at
SNC in January. I work for the Washoe Tribe and am currently
administering our Tribal Radon Pilot Project Grant. Since
Lake Tahoe is part of the Tribe's ancestral lands I think
it would be beneficial for us to collaborate our education
and outreach efforts. Possible ideas for collaboration:
Day booths at various events.
example mitigation within Tribal Colony
Council tour of your mitigated house
Miner Awarded the NEHA-NRPP Radon Residential Provider
National Environmental Health Association - National Radon
Proficiency Program accepted my application for the Radon
Residential Mitigation Provider Certificate. This means
that I will be listed on the California
Department of Public Health Radon web page as a Certified
Radon Services Provider for Mitigation in California.
This is a rather prestigious designation since currently
only 6 radon mitigation providers are certified for all
of California. It also allows me act as a consultant for
homeowners and builders on radon projects in California.
I am also listed on the NEHA-NRPP
web page as providing radon services in California.
to the Editor printed in Tahoe Daily Tribune
Tahoe Daily Tribune printed my letter to the editor on
November being National Lung Cancer Awareness Month. Read
is National Lung Cancer Awareness Month
Sacramento Bee ran a letter to the editor on lung cancer
and that November is National Lung Cancer Awareness Month.
Since the Bee has not yet covered the radon story at Tahoe
or printed my letter criticizing them for ignoring us,
I hope they will publish my
letter in response to this letter to the editor on
lung cancer. I also wrote a letter
to the Tahoe Daily Tribune on National Lung Cancer
to test 450 classrooms for radon
to Steve Morales, Facilities Director of Lake Tahoe Unified
School District, the District took delivery of the radon
test kits this week and has plans to test 450 classrooms
for radon next week. This will be the largest commercial
test to date in South Lake Tahoe. LTUSD is expected to
use the testing process to increase radon awareness in
students so they may encourage their parents to send for
a $5 test kit and test their homes. View
my letter to Steve Morales.
December the test kits arrived. George Faggella, State
Radon Officer (right) came up to Tahoe to help Steve Morales
(center) and the maintenance crew (that's Tim hiding behind
a test kit!) with the distribution of the 450 test kits
and 50 control test kits. Results will be announced after
the first of the year.
California have the highest radon cancer rates in the
to George Faggella, State Radon Scientist with the Department
of Public Health, California may have the highest incidence
of radon induced lung cancer of any state in the nation.
That is not because California is the highest radon state,
actually it is one of the lowest, with only 1% of houses
over the EPA action level. It is because of our large
population. I have not seen the statistics on this claim,
but it's an interesting concept, and if true, could wake
up our politicians and our citizens to the risks of radon
Norma Santiago requests a radon ordinance from Environmental
to Judi Harkins, Assistant to Supervisor Norma Santiago,
Norma has tasked Environmental Management with drafting
a radon ordinance. It will be interesting to see how EM
responds and in what time frame. Norma hopes the ordinance
will be included with the new fire safe building rules
to go into effect January 1, 2008.
"May we see your Radon Plan?"
light of the radon report to the Board of Supervisors
at Lake Tahoe on October 23, by George Faggella, State
Radon Scientist, and the response by Gerri Silva of Environmental
Management to do "education and public outreach",
I have attempted to get Environmental Management to share
with the public their plan of action for public outreach.
So far I have not received a plan.
my letter to Greg Stanton, Deputy Director of Environmental
Management, offering my suggestions on a radon action
plan and my help to present a radon workshop to the 72
Angora fire victims with permits to build foundations
my request to Norma Santiago and Judi Harkins to encourage
Environmental Management to reply to my request.
my suggestions for goals and action items for attacking
radon in the Lake Tahoe Basin.
Management has yet to accept my offer to do a radon workshop
for builders of the 72 Angora fire houses being built
this fall and winter.
we wait for government's wheels to turn and the weeks
turn to months, we have to reflect: How sad it is that
we may very well loose those 72 homes to radon, by allowing
them to be built without RRNC, Radon Resistant New Construction.
The reason? El Dorado County has been too slow to act
to inform the builders how easy and inexpensive it is
to build radon out during new construction. (Note: Once
the sub-floor covers the crawl space it is more difficult
and expensive to lay out the pipe and radon barrier, but
it still can be done.)
Sacramento Bee refuses to report on radon or to publish
my letters critical of their lack of interest.
I wrote a "letter
to the editor" to the Sacramento Bee asking why
The Bee has not covered the radon news in South Lake Tahoe
as part of their Regional News. They covered the Angora
Fire and in the past they have covered the asbestos story
in the Sierra foothills, but not radon in South Lake Tahoe.
I have written numerous similar letters to various editors
and writers of The Bee over the past year. So far the
Bee has not run any of the letters or reported on any
of the radon news from this area. Not published.
11/5/07 M.S. Enkoji, of the Sacramento
Bee, wrote a front page article on rebuilding after the
Angora fire on November 5, 2007, but did not mention radon
or Radon Resistant New Construction (RRNC) techniques.
This is my letter in
response, asking that Building Radon Out be included
in the news about rebuilding after the fire. Not published.
I wrote a letter to the
Opinion Editor stating my interest in writing a guest
editorial piece on the radon issues in the Tahoe area.
I promised to write the piece if the Bee showed the slightest
interest in our radon problem. Not published.
I wrote a letter
to David Holwerk, Editorial Page Editor, asking why
my previous letters and requests have gone unanswered.
Is radon not an acceptable topic of conversation at the
Sacramento Bee? Not published.
I wrote yet another letter
to the editor asking why the Bee continues to ignore
our radon story. I cited the 1/8/08 El Dorado County Board
Resolution on Radon Action Month and the Radon Awareness
Program presented to the Board by Environmental Health
that recommends that the building department adopt a radon
ordinance. This government action on a serious health
threat should be covered by the Bee as regional news.
Dorado County Board of Supervisors Hear Radon Report from
special meeting of the Board of Supervisors at Lake Tahoe
to view the Angora fire and to hear the radon report.
George Faggella from the state Department of Health Radon
Office made an excellent presentation on the lung cancer
dangers of radon, the high radon in our area with 50%
of homes over the EPA action level, and the ease of fixing
the problem in new homes. Radon Resistant New Construction
(RRNC) could be used on the Angora fire homes being rebuilt
now. 72 of the 252 houses destroyed will be rebuilt this
fall and winter. Now would be the time to install Radon
Resistant New Construction methods. But the recommendations
stopped short of adopting a radon ordinance, offering
only a "...radon education and public outreach program..."
I presented a letter to the board voicing my disappointment
in their choice of the more passive education program
and my support for action on the radon ordinance and training
letter to the Board.
Read copy of
I offered my services to give a builders workshop on RRNC,
but Environmental Management has not yet agreed to the
workshop. Oh well. Others in the audience expressed interest
in making changes. Ted Long from the City Council expressed
interest in moving forward with a radon ordinance for
the City of South Lake Tahoe in January. Sue Novasell
of the LTUSD School Board spoke to George Faggella about
getting additional test kits for the school district to
make available for students to take home for their parents
to test their own houses.
Letters to the Editor on Radon
Lisa Dernbach responds to my editorial
10.23.07 I respond to Lisa
10.23.07 Mark Hoefer comments on Zephyr Cove radon and
Radon Test Kits from California Radon Office
California Department of Public Health Radon Office has
made radon test kits available to all California residents
at a discounted price of $5. Order
visitors to Radon At Tahoe.com
National Radon Poster Contest
National Safety Council, in partnership with the U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency, is sponsoring the 2008
National Radon Poster Contest for children ages 9-14 to
generate interest, enthusiasm, and action about radon
and to increase the number of homes tested for radon.
To find out more information. click
students and teachers in LTUSD and Douglas County schools
can enter this contest as entire classes or as individuals.
here for the contest guidelines and brochure.
LTUSD agrees to test 450 classrooms and
controversy continues over radon at Zephyr Cove Elementary.
County School District Board of Trustees met in Nevada
to address the radon issue at Zephyr Cove Elementary School.
Adrian Howe made a radon presentation to the Board and
Dirk Roper answered questions on the fans scheduled to
be installed in a few weeks. Some parents are still concerned
about "safe" radon levels and would like to
see the District close Zephyr Cove and keep Kingsbury
Middle School open because of the higher radon levels
at Zephyr Cove.
Tahoe Unified School District followed Douglas
County Schools' lead by announcing that they too will
test all class rooms (450 rooms and offices) for radon.
Steve Morales made the report to the School Board on Tuesday,
10-9-07 and expects to purchase charcoal test kits at
a discount from the State of California Department of
Public Health Radon Office. I think the controversy at
Douglas County Schools in Nevada is increasing radon awareness
everywhere in the Tahoe Basin.
wrote to the LTUSD Board members to support their decision
to test classrooms and to provide them with the report
of the 2007 Tahoe Radon Survey which showed that over
50% of the homes in South Lake Tahoe are over the EPA
action level. I attended that Board meeting on Tuesday
and one of the Board members expressed interest in making
test kits available to parents so they can test their
homes, which is where students spend more time than in
View article. View
2007 - 2008 Radio and Print PSA's
EPA has announced a series of radon Public Service Announcements
for radio and news media. To view and order the PSA's,
click here. I ordered
a few sets to give out to our local radio stations and
newspapers. To listen to one of the radio spots, click
Cove parents meet on radon
attended the Zephyr Cove parents meeting Wednesday evening.
I was impressed by the way the District met the parent's
challenge of keeping their kids out of school unless the
radon issue was dealt with. More than just "damage
control," though there was certainly some of that,
they actually came up with a plan to use HEPA filters
in all classrooms to immediately reduce the "radon
progeny," the actual radiation that does damage to
the lungs, while they are looking into the permits to
do standard radon mitigation (since TRPA would have to
give permission to exceed the October 15 moratorium on
digging). Dirk Roper, of Fallon Heating and Air Conditioning,
who is a Sponsor of
Radon At Tahoe, was chosen as the Certified Radon
tester and mitigator to consult on the project. Adrian
Howe was also present and made the radon presentation
for the State of Nevada Radon office. It seems to me that
beyond radon, the issue of consolidation of schools still
has some parents upset, even if the radon issues are dealt
updated the City Council on radon progress
using the 5 minute public comment session (because I have
never been invited to make a presentation to the council),
I addressed the South Lake Tahoe City Council, bringing
them up to date on the latest radon news since I last spoke
to them three weeks ago. The other purpose of this update
was to promote the enacting of a radon ordinance as a better
response to the problem than simply issuing a proclamation.
Tahoe Daily Tribune ran my Guest Editorial!
argue that because radon is a problem in this area, the
city and county should respond by enacting a radon ordinance
for new construction, especially for the 250 Angora fire
article. View copy.
visitors to Radon At Tahoe.com web page. News stories
are generating interest.
Cove Elementary School radon on front page
of the parents' club at Zephyr Cove Elementary School
in Nevada threatened to take their children out
of school on Monday if school officials fail to
provide a plan to reduce radon in the school. There
will be a meeting on Wednesday, October 3rd, which
I plan to attend. View
Fire Meeting with Assemblyman Ted Gaines
attended the Angora Fire meeting at Lake Tahoe Community
College set up by Assemblyman Ted Gaines, of the 4th Congressional
District, which includes El Dorado, Placer and Alpine
Counties, all of which are high in radon. I was able to
deliver the detailed radon ordinance packet
to Adam Willoughby, staff to Mr. Gaines, and I was able
to speak to Mr. Gaines about radon in this area. Even
though radon is not a problem in California, for the state
as a whole, I got the impression that Mr. Gaines and his
staff would study the issue as it relates to his district.
Once he understands the dangers and the prevalence of
radon in the areas he represents, I would hope that he
will encourage city and county agencies to deal with radon
in new construction, as well as radon in existing structures
for residents in his district. Here is his email if you
wish to encourage his participation in this process: email@example.com.
Daily Tribune ran a follow-up to last week's story on
radon in Nevada schools. View
copy. Last month, Zephyr Cove Elementary School, a
few miles from Stateline, Nevada, attempted to mitigate
several classrooms with a radon sealant called RadonSeal.
The tests came back yesterday unchanged. I have never
heard of RadonSeal and no one from Zephyr Cove asked my
opinion. But had I been asked, I would have suggested
that the EPA recommends specific sub membrane depressurization
techniques using fans for slab foundations. At least the
Nevada school is aware of radon, is testing and is attempting
to correct the problem. Lake Tahoe Unified School District
has yet to address radon in the schools on the California
side, at least to my knowledge. I did present Dr. Tarwater,
Superintendent of LTUSD, with my presentation packet on
the radon ordinance, but so far have not received any
spoke to the El Dorado County Board of Supervisors at
the public comment portion of their meeting. This seems
to be the only way I can speak to these government bodies
unless they invite me to make a presentation, which hasn't
happened yet. My topic was the radon ordinance and I handed
out the complete packet, as listed below.
A formal radon presentation is scheduled by Environmental
Health Management to a combined meeting of the City Council
and the Board of Supervisors at South Lake Tahoe on Tuesday,
October 23, 2007.
prior to the board meeting I was able to speak to Greg
Stanton, Assistant Director of Environmental Health Management,
and Larry Lohman, Deputy Director - Building Official
with the Building Department, to let them know that I
was asking the Board for a radon ordinance. Both seemed
interested in pursuing radon awareness but felt my request
for a radon ordinance may not be met by the County in
time to include the 250 Angora fire homes. Larry informed
me that the building department is now attaching a Radon
Resistant New Construction information sheet with
every building plan approval packet, including those of
the Angora fire homes. Thanks to the building department
for this important step. We are making progress.
Tahoe Daily Tribune endorsed radon support for homeowners
in an editorial today. The Tribune said city, county and
state government agencies "... must be prepared to
help citizens remedy radon issues." They also stated
that the City Council "...would be well advised to
address the issue at its next meeting on Oct. 2." I
plan to be at that meeting to bring up the radon ordinance
again. It will be up to the City Council if they choose
to make radon an agenda item. Public support is building.
to story. Read
visitors to Radon at Tahoe.com since inception about 3
Daily Tribune ran front page headlines and photo of lungs:
RADON - It's invisible, odorless and all around us.
The story uses much of my presentation and data from the
City Council presentation the previous day, but also included
interviews with Environmental Health Management official,
Ginger Huber and others. Very good reporting by Adam Jensen
of the Tahoe Daily Tribune.
Link to story. Read
spoke to the City Council during the 5 minute Public Comment
section on the Radon Ordinance. I handed out the folder
containing the presentation documents and explained them.
There was no comment because it was not an agenda item.
I plan to make more of these 5 minute presentations if the
council chooses not to invite me to make a full presentation.
Jersey, which has 17.5% of its houses over the EPA action
level, has a school building radon code in the works. When
adopted, it may well become the model code for all schools
in the nation. I don't have a copy of it yet but will link
to it here when I get it. For now, view New
Jersey Assembly Bill No. 4134 which would require testing
of most schools every 5 years. It would also require radon
testing for all residential properties at time of sale.
Since our readings are higher than New Jersey's, we would
not be out of line to add this wording to our local building
ordinance. Thanks to Anita Kopera, New Jersey State Radon
Officer for her help on this.
Cove Elementary School is in the news again with high radon
readings. Parents are upset that old system was not properly
Tahoe Daily Tribune article.
inquiring minds only
History of Radon - 1470 to 1984 by Robert K.
Lewis, Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection,
This detailed, yet interesting, history of radon was presented
at the 2006 National Radon Meeting.
Spring, and Summer
6, 2007 I have developed a presentation for government
agencies to win them over to becoming radon pro-active:
I plan on making the rounds next week. The campaign begins!
Sierra Compare spreadsheet
International Residential Code (IRC) Appendix F: Radon
Control Methods to use as a model ordinance.
to add to Appendix F to include testing and the addition
of a radon fan to make it an active system if the passive
system fails the test.
Opinion Page editorial to enlist
public support for a local radon ordinance
2007 The task now is to distribute the results
of the Tahoe Radon Survey to the public and to public
agencies. My goal is to get El Dorado Environmental Health
to recognize that there is a radon problem up here and
to get them to write and adopt a radon building ordinance.
I suggest that they use the International Residential
Code, Appendix F: Radon Control Methods, as a guide. I
also suggest that they add a few additional clauses to
require post installation testing of passive systems and
require upgrading to an active system if the passive system
fails the test.
first data from the Tahoe Radon Survey was released by
George Faggella of the California Department of Health
Services. The additional 1700 tests did not do much to
change the high radon readings of this region. I compiled
the results onto the Sierra Compare Spreadsheet and updated
the chart. Results are that for the 25 zip code group
of mountain and foothill communities in the Sierra Nevada
that I have been tracking, the homes tested went from
796 to 1555 but the percent of homes over the EPA action
level went from 37% to 38%. I think we are talking real
numbers here when doubling the sample size produces no
change in results. This is a very high radon region. The
numbers for the City of South Lake Tahoe went from 140
to 528 tests, a 370% increase, yet the results hardly
changed: 53% to 52% of homes above the EPA action level.
21, 2007 I set up a booth at the Phoenix Sustainable
Re-building Expo at our local community college for victims
of the Angora Fire to help them rebuild. I focused on
using Radon Resistant New Construction (RRNC) for the
250 families that will be rebuilding their homes and lives
after the Angora Fire. Mostly I spoke to the contractors
present to give them an awareness of radon when they bid
a job in this area.
21, 2007 I spoke to Soroptomists on radon at
4, 2007 I met with Wesley Nicks, Nevada County
Environmental Health Director, to discuss Tahoe Radon
Survey and current radon results for Nevada County. Truckee
had 22% of homes over the EPA action level with 67 tests.
After the Tahoe Radon Survey, 290 additional tests were
added bringing the sample size up to 357, but the percent
of homes remained about the same, rising to 25%. I agreed
to keep him informed about our progress in El Dorado County.
Day Weekend May 26, 2007 Truckee Green Building Expo
I shared a booth with George Faggella, California Department
of Health Services, Radon Office, to hand out radon literature
and speak to the many green builders about RRNC. Many
so called "green" builders do not address radon,
though it is listed as 9.1 and 9.2 on the LEED for Homes
Project Checklist and is mandatory in EPA Region
1 areas. Unfortunately, EPA Region 1 areas are county
specific and do not address regions within a county, such
as the Tahoe Basin, which would be a Region 1 but is within
El Dorado, Placer and Nevada counties which are not overall
Region 1. Catch 22. There is much potential for green
builders to be good supporters of Radon Resistant New
Construction once they understand the issues, or once
it gets presented to them in the form of a building ordinance.
15, 2007 I spoke to Dr. Richard Burton, MD, Health
Officer and Director for Placer County about the Tahoe
Radon Survey and implications for Tahoe City which currently
has 40% of homes above the EPA action level. Since then
with the additional data, (from 10 to 67 tests) the levels
for Tahoe city have come down to 22%, still high. I agreed
to keep him informed about our progress in El Dorado County.
27, 2007 Spoke to El Dorado County Board of Supervisors
on radon in the Sierra Nevada during the public input
session. 5 minutes. Warned about preparing for the announcement
of the Tahoe Radon Survey in August. Environmental Health
scheduled George Faggella from State Public Health Radon
Office to come up and talk to agencies. Due to the Angora
Fire, that meeting happened in late August. Ginger Huber
of El Dorado County Environmental Health started stocking
the blue Build Radon Out book.
20, 2007 Spoke during 5 minute public session
to South Lake Tahoe City Council. Warned that Tahoe Radon
Survey was on the way and we should prepare for the impact.
Ron Ticknor of the Building Department showed some interest
and began handing out California Radon brochures. City
Council took a wait and see stance.
7, 2007 Spoke to Rotary on radon and the Newborn
Radon Program. Buck Barkley agreed to host the program
at Barton Memorial Hospital. Since then the contract for
free test kits ran out so we are waiting for Calif. DHS
to get a new contract.
PSA's on Radon
EPA has come out with some life saving Public Service
Announcements on radon. To view and download the actual
PSA's for Newspapers, TV and Radio spots go to:
Spot - 60
seconds - 30
seconds - 20
Spanish - 60
seconds - 30
Spot - 60
seconds - 30
Spanish - 60
seconds - 30
Bravo! The EPA is telling it like it is,
and with style!
we need to get the media to run these PSA's. Anyone want
to help? Write a letter to the editor or call you favorite
radio station and request they run these free PSA's.
Tahoe Newborn Radon Program
after the successful Pennsylvania Newborn Radon Program
(including logo and even color!), the Lake Tahoe Newborn
Radon Program now provides free radon test kit flyers
for all parents of newborn babies at Barton Memorial Hospital
in South Lake Tahoe. The green cover surrounds the Radon
in California flyer provided by the California Department
of Health Services Radon Program. The text encourages
new parents to provide a clean and healthy environment
for their new child by testing their house for radon.
Free test kits are provided through the state DHS Radon
Program. It is hoped that this first (to our knowledge)
radon outreach to new parents in California will be taken
over and produced by the State Radon Program as grant
funds are made available.
Tahoe Newborn Radon Page
Davis Tahoe Environmental Research Center Lecture Series
spoke on Radon in the Sierra Nevada to about 30 members
of the scientific community and general public. I used
the presentation developed by George Faggella of the California
DHS Radon Program, with added slides relating to our work
in the Sierra Nevada.The goal was to educate about the
dangers and the prevalence of radon in the Sierra Nevada.
The current Tahoe Radon Survey and the Zip Code Study
were discussed. The audience asked many pointed and interesting
questions showing they grasped the issue.
Read press release for lecture
second press release on radon risks
Tahoe Bonanza article on lecture
Daily Tribune Article on Radon
my letter to the editor in response
is National Radon Action Month
EPA and the US Surgeon General designate January as National
Radon Action Month. Click on their logo to view the official
web page. At Tahoe, we are working on a few projects to
inform the public about radon and to encourage homeowners
and renters to test for radon.
18 I will be speaking about radon in the Sierra Nevada
at the UC Davis Tahoe Environmental Research Center
in Incline Village with George Faggella of the California
DHS Radon Program - read
the press release.
Radon Program is conducting the Tahoe Radon Survey (see
Daily Tribune will be running articles and news stories
on radon in South Lake Tahoe
hope to be holding discussions with interested members
of the real estate community regarding radon in real
will continue to publicize the study that shows up to
40% of homes in many Sierra Nevada communities have
radon levels above the EPA Action Level of 4 pCi/L (see
to the editor regarding the above activities
you have suggestions for other public awareness projects,
please contact us.
Code Test Results
study of radon tests by zip codes in 14 Sierra Nevada
communities suggest that many mountain homes are over
the EPA "Action Level" of 4 pCi/L. View the
test data base or the
letters sent to El Dorado, Placer, and Nevada County residents
in the Lake Tahoe Basin inviting participation in a radon
survey of the area around Lake Tahoe. California Department
of Health Services (DHS) and California Geological Survey
are conducting this first comprehensive study of this
region of the Sierra Nevada.
view a larger copy, click
Presentation to T.E.A.S
Engineers, Architects and Surveyors) with California Radon
Specialist George Faggella from California DHS.
This presentation is a significant milestone for a number
of reasons: It the first presentation I have given to
a group. It is the first time I have collaborate with
George Faggella who runs the Radon Program for the California
Department of Health Services. The City of South Lake
Tahoe Building Department sent their Building Official,
Ron Ticknor. The County of El Dorado Building Department
sent their Deputy Director, Larry Lohman from Placerville
as well as Bob Green, Branch Manager from Tahoe. The El
Dorado County Environmental Management Department sent
Ginger Huber, the Tahoe Division Manager as well as her
supervisor from Placerville. Having these government officials
attend was at least as important as the T.E.A.S. architects
and designers who attended for spreading the word about
radon at Tahoe.
View press releases
from the class and the demonstration field training including
the class mitigation project.
Certification Classes in Reno,
June 5 - 8, 2006
with scholarships available!
Training June 5 - 8, 2006
Howe, from the Radiological Health Section of the Department
of Human Resources recently announced that the CERTI training
and testing, normally held in Colorado, will be given
at the Peppermill Hotel in Reno from Monday June 5
Thursday June 8, 2006. Anyone, but especially contractors
in California and Nevada, who plan on doing radon mitigation
in California or Nevada, should give this course a hard
look. It is a home study course with written materials
and DVDs and then a 4 day hands-on training in Reno with
the NEAH-NRPP test included on the last day of class.
Howe is offering 13 scholarships for those who live in
Nevada or "an adjacent area" and who plan on
doing radon mitigation work in Nevada or "an adjacent
area." I would think that South Lake Tahoe, CA would
qualify as "an adjacent area."
Early to complete the home study portion prior to
the class in June. For more information and to register,
go to the class web site at:
makes front page
of the Tahoe Daily Tribune
on image to read full article
Display Case for April on Radon
Dorado County Library gave Radon at Tahoe the use of their
12 foot display case for the month of April to make an
informational display on radon gas in the Lake Tahoe Basin.
We used many of the displays and poster boards developed
for the Green Building Expo, along with other materials
photos and actual radon testing devices loaned to us by
George Faggella of the California Radon Office, and Douglas
Kladder, of CERTI.
display brought many positive comments as well as a nice
article on the cover of the Tahoe Daily Tribune on April
12, 2006. Here is an excerpt from one of the letters we
I just wanted to thank you for an amazing display at the
library and an equally impressive website. I just happened
upon the display yesterday on one of my infrequent trips
to the library. Your explanations and resources have given
me the motivation to take action on an item that has been
on my "to do" list for years. I plan to order
the Pro Series 3 and do extensive testing on both my residential
property and my rental properties. I live on Chimney Rock
Road on middle Kingsbury and have rental properties on
Tina Court at the top of Kingsbury. I look forward to
sharing results, fixing any problems and being part of
the solution for this problem in our area. Again, thanks
for your efforts. Many of us will surely benefit from
the Sally Neitling, Library Branch Supervisor, and the
entire library staff, for allowing us to use their facilities
to educate the public on radon in the Tahoe Basin.
Table at Green Building Expo
at Tahoe was invited to participate in the Green Building
Expo at Lake Tahoe Community College. We set up a table,
handed out literature, answered questions and met a lot
of local folks interested in building healthy homes with
sustainable materials. Radon testing should definitely
be a part of a healthy home at Tahoe. This was a good
first exposure for Radon at Tahoe to the community. If
you would like a copy of the Fact Sheets we gave out at
the expo, go to the bottom of the Solution
Dorado County recognizes radon
as a health problem
at Tahoe is happy to announce that, after a year of correspondence
and "nagging," El Dorado County Environmental
Management finally agreed to help spread the word on Radon
Resistant New Construction through the County Building
Department. Hopefully they will start by making EPA radon
materials available to permit applicants, but will eventually
train their inspectors in EPA radon protocols and will
enforce EPA building code recommendations. But it is definitely
letter read, in part:
... I have contacted the State Health Department and they
are planning to do a radon survey and mapping program
in El Dorado County next year. It will be focused in the
South Lake Tahoe area and will include free test kits
for local participation. The results will be assessed
and a risk map will be created for our area. Our department
will be working closely with the State in this effort.
Until this survey is completed and we have some valid
data, I would recommend that we
do make available to the public the radon resistant construction
technique information for new construction at the Tahoe
office of the Building Department. I will coordinate
this with them. I will keep you updated as to our progress
and status. Thanks for your continuing effort and concern.
Tahoe Division Manager
El Dorado County Environmental Management
3368 Lake Tahoe Blvd., Suite 303
South Lake Tahoe, CA 96150
from our county public health report
The Environmental Management Department of El Dorado County
issues a "Community Update" report that neglected
to mention radon as an environmental public health issue.
To view the report, go to http://www.co.el-dorado.ca.us/emd/
view my incensed letter to the editor in response to this
omission, click here
General Releases Radon
National Health Advisory
Surgeon General Richard H. Carmona warned the American
public about the risks of breathing indoor radon by issuing
a national health advisory today. The advisory is meant
to urge Americans to prevent this silent radioactive gas
from seeping into their homes and building up to dangerous
levels. Dr. Carmona issued the advisory during a two-day
Surgeon General's Workshop on Healthy Indoor Environment.
radon is the second-leading cause of lung cancer in the
United States and breathing it over prolonged periods
can present a significant health risk to families all
over the county," Dr. Carmona said. "It's important
to know that this threat is completely preventable. Radon
can be detected with a simple test and fixed through well-established
venting techniques." (read
is declared by EPA as
National Radon Action Month (read
radon related deaths each year in Europe
Radon in Homes Causing Lung Cancer
that collects naturally in people's homes is causing about
9 percent of the lung cancer deaths across Europe, according
to new research reported in the British Medical Journal.
the 20,000 radon-related deaths in Europe each year, smokers
are most at risk, a journal statement said, citing the
study results. A person's risk increased proportionally
to how much of the gas he or she was exposed to, the British
researchers at the University of Oxford found.
radon gas exists naturally in the earth's surface and
tends to collect indoors. Most of the gas is exhaled immediately,
but radioactive particles can collect in the lungs, increasing
a person's risk of lung cancer, the journal statement
researchers examined 7,148 cases of lung cancer across
Europe, then measured radon levels in the victims' homes
as well as their smoking histories.
authors said radon risks can be reduced by installation
of underground venting systems in existing homes, and
radon-proof barriers in new construction.
Last Updated: Dec-21-2004
© 2004 ScoutNews, LLC. All rights reserved.
Most Radioactive House in America
Stanley Watras discovers that radiation in his house is
setting off radiation alarms at the nuclear power plant
where he works. Later named "the most radioactive house
in America", this house was taken on by Stanley's employer,
Philadelphia Electric Company (PECO) and the EPA as a project
to learn about cleaning up a radon contaminated house. At
a cost of $32,000, the radon was eventually brought down
to acceptable levels and the Watras family moved back in.
The EPA estimated that living in the house prior to mitigation
was about the same as smoking 280 packs of cigarettes a
day. (Radon, The Invisible Threat, by Michael Lafavore,
by German physicist Friedrich Ernst Dorn
inquiring minds only
History of Radon - 1470 to 1984 by Robert
K. Lewis, Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection,
Presented at the 2006 National Radon Meeting