Minnesota’s Experience: Working with Your Local Building Industry Associations on Radon Resistant New Construction (RRNC)

Adapted from the presentation http://aarst-nrpp.com/wp/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/Mon_2_Kerber_Working_with_BIAs_9-19-16.pdf with permission of the presenter, Joshua Kerber

In a presentation at the 2016 International Radon Symposium held in San Diego, California, September 18-21, Joshua Kerber of the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) Indoor Air Unit, made a presentation on working with local building industry associations in promoting and developing radon resistant new construction (RRNC). The presentation included Minnesota’s history of the efforts, features of RRNC and RRNC educational efforts.

History

The program began an education outreach directed toward builders in the early 2000s with one-on-one training and offering continuing education units (CEUs). By 2004, with increased awareness raised by media coverage, RRNC began to be included voluntarily by some builders. The MDH also began meeting the state code officials, advisory committees and builders. During 2005, more media coverage and voluntary use of RRNC by builders was occurring. Data were needed to indicate the need for this in Minnesota and a data gathering effort was begun. In time, the legislative representative from Olmsted County, who had become familiar with RRNC, proposed a statue for RRNC requirements. The bill passed in 2007, with an effective date of June 1, 2009. This required all new permits for single family houses to have RRNC. Other requirements and specifications were included in the bill. Various changes in statues have occurred in subsequent years and as of February 14, 2015, application of the law applies to all residential buildings (1-4 units, single family housing, apartments, multi-family dwellings and mixed use). Progress in RRNC directives were achieved through working with local and state builder associations, local and state real estate associations, and local and state code officials. Essential to the success of working with associations and others was understanding the building business, price points and products, and developing familiarity with radon and RRNC.

Education Efforts

RRNC is included in the training for all code officials in Minnesota and the MDH offers free one-hour continuing education for builders. Classes are offered through local associations and directly to builders. Continuing education including the topic of RRNC is also offered to real estate agents. The demand for real estate classes is high. The training is free and offers 1.5 hours of CEU. Forty-eight classes have been held with 1197 attendees during 2016.

For more information on RRNC features, or this presentation, contact:

Joshua J. Kerber, MS
Minnesota Department of Health Indoor Air Unit
P.O. Box 64975
St. Paul, MN 55164-0975
telephone 651-201-5613
joshua.kerber@state.mn.us

Indoor-Surveys, Radon Potential Maps and Their Impacts on Radon Awareness in California

Indoor-Surveys, Radon Potential Maps and Their Impacts on Radon Awareness in California

Adapted from the presentation and printed with permission of the author, Ronald K. Churchill, Ph.D.

In a presentation at the 2016 International Radon Symposium held in San Diego, California, September 18-21, Ronald Churchill, Ph.D., of the California Department of Conservation, California Geological Survey (CGS), presented findings of the paper “Indoor-Surveys, Radon Potential Maps and Their Impacts on Radon Awareness in California.” The CGS and the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) have worked cooperatively on data collection, mapping and analysis of radon potentials in California. CGS radon activities are funded through an interagency agreement, by a portion of the CDPH State Indoor Radon Grant from U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) and CGS matching funds.

The paper presents the historical origin and accuracy/inaccuracy of the pervasive perspective that California does not have significant radon problems. Additionally it explains the cooperative efforts of the CGS and CDPH to identify the state’s relatively small but significantly anomalous radon areas, documenting that California does have some local radon exposure issues. It also discusses how radon maps that have been created are used, especially by consultants required to address the radon exposure issue when preparing Phase 1 environmental reports for construction projects.

Historically, in the 1980s and 90s, the perception that radon was not a significant problem in California developed due to factors such as:
• small random radon surveys with limited ability to identify typical anomalous radon areas;
• radon authorities repeated statements that radon is only a problem in small isolated areas;
• lack of more detailed studies to identify such areas;
• disagreements between experts on who should test; and
• radon potential map shortcomings of existing USEPA and other mapping.

Since 2003, CGS has been developing advisory maps using indoor-radon data from CDPH surveys, uranium geochemical data, soil permeability data and geologic maps at 1:100,000 scale or larger. To date CDPH has completed 20 radon-screening surveys and CGS has completed 10 radon potential maps. Approximately 15 million Californians reside in areas with completed CGS radon potential maps.

The development of and access to these maps has increased awareness of radon in California as evidenced by additional website views and downloads. Improvements in distributing the information have come through:
• CDPH and CGS radon websites;
• CDPH online radon Zip Code database;
• CDPH—CGS cooperative radon surveys (all or parts of 20 counties);
• CGS geology based radon potential maps (10 maps completed since 2005—available online); and
• CGS 2016 online interactive radon potential map.

Some outcomes of the study are that:

• Recent radon potential maps by the CGS show that higher radon potential areas, not detected by the early surveys, do exist within some California counties.

• Availability of these maps on the web has facilitated their use by consultants in Phase 1 environment assessments, in real estate disclosure and by the public; increasing the visibility of radon as an environmental health issue in California.

• One county recently began requiring radon map review during preparation of geotechnical reports for construction projects. This has resulted in consideration of radon at several sites and a commitment to radon resistant construction at a new fire station.

For more information, review the paper at
http://aarst-nrpp.com/proceedings/2016/Churchill_INDOOR-SURVEYS_RADON_POTENTIAL_MAPS_AND_THEIR_IMPACTS.docx.pdf.

Contact:
Ronald K. Churchill, Ph.D.
Senior Engineering Geologist
California Geological Survey, California Department of Conservation
Ron.Churchill@conservation.ca.gov

Did Radon Cause Your Lung Cancer?

https://lungcancer.net/living/radon-cause-lung-cancer/

Video: Lung Cancer Survivor Shares Radon Basics

https://lungcancer.net/video/radon/

Georgia: Uranium and Radon in Household Waters

Testing, Mapping, Public Education and Mitigationof Uranium and Radon in Household Waters in Georgia

Edited and reprinted with permission of the author

At the 2016 International Radon Symposium held in San Diego, California, September 18-21, the principal author, Dr. Uttam Saha, of the University of Georgia, presented a paper on various issues regarding uranium and radon in household waters in Georgia. The full paper passed through the peer review process and has been published in the symposium proceedings. The paper is an outcome of the collaboration between The University of Georgia Cooperative Extension and The Laboratory of Inorganic & Nuclear Chemistry, New York State Department of Health.

The paper highlighted the Georgia testing, mapping, public education and mitigation of uranium and radon. The highlights, objectives, principal findings of the paper and comments on potential areas in Georgia that merit testing and the programs for uranium and radon in household wells were presented in the paper.

Highlights

The Agricultural and Environmental Services Laboratories (AESL) and The College of Family and Consumer Sciences of the University of Georgia launched a new Radon in Household Water Testing and Education program in August 2015. Developing proper sampling analytical methods for “Testing Radon in Water” was considered an important research task, yet to be accomplished by the scientists. Various empirical methods of sampling, sample preparation, and counting assays on a liquid scintillation counter are practiced by different laboratories testing radon in water across the United States. As result, different laboratories can produce different radon in water results from the same sample. Therefore, there was a great need to optimize these conditions.

Objectives

The objective of the study was to compare various methods of sampling, sample preparation, and liquid scintillation counting assays on the recovery of radon from:

  1. two “Radon in Water” standard samples; and
  2. a few household well water samples from Georgia.

Principal Findings

  • Direct-Fill Method of water sampling is susceptible to significant loss of radon gas, so Bowl Method or Submerged Bottle Method is better.
  • The 130-700 keV Assay, that brackets the Region of Interest (ROI) of radon, is better than the Full Spectrum Assay covering 0 to 2000 keV.
  • Air Bubble in the water samples results in significant loss of radon gas, such loss becomes greater as the size of the air bubbles becomes larger.
  • Mineral Oil generally gives higher radon counts than Opti-Fluor. But the results of Two Standard Samples suggested that Mineral Oil clearly over estimates the actual radon concentration whereas Opti-Fluor always gave the results close to the true value. As a scintillator for radon in water, it is widely believed that mineral oil is a better than opti-fluor. But the results of this paper showed that the opposite is indeed true.

Potential Areas in Georgia that Merit Testing
This paper also shed lights on the potential areas and associated geology that merits testing of uranium and radon in the household wells in Georgia.

Programs for Uranium and Radon in Household Well Waters

The UGA’s current and past (since 2010) monitoring, mapping, public education, and mitigation programs for uranium and radon in household well waters were also included in the presentation.

Authors of the Paper

  • Uttam Saha, Public Service Associate & Program Coordinator, Agricultural and Environmental Services Laboratories, The University of Georgia, Athens, GA
  • Leticia Sonon, Senior Public Service Associate & Director, Agricultural and Environmental Services Laboratories, The University of Georgia, Athens, GA
  • Michael Kitto, Research Scientist V, Laboratory of Inorganic & Nuclear Chemistry, Wadsworth Center, New York State Department of Health, Albany, NY.
  • Pamela R. Turner, Associate Professor & Extension Housing Specialist, Department of Financial Planning, Housing and Consumer Economics, The University of Georgia, Athens, GA
  • Dana Lynch, Public Service Assistant and Family & Consumer Science Extension Agent, Monroe County, The University of Georgia, Forsyth, GA
  • Gabrielle Walters, Radon Educator, Department of Financial Planning, Housing and Consumer Economics, The University of Georgia, Athens, GA

More Information
For more information, see the entire paper at http://aarst-nrpp.com/proceedings/2016/Saha_TESTING_MAPPING_PUBLIC_EDUCATION_AND_MITIGATION_OF_TESTING_Of_Uranium_and_radon_in_household_waters_in_georgia.pdf

or contact:

Uttam Kumar Saha, Ph.D.
Program Coordinator
Feed and Environmental Water Laboratory
The University of Georgia Cooperative Extension
2300 College Station Road, Athens, GA 30602, USA
Tel: +1-706-542-7690; Fax: +1-706-542-1494
E-mail: sahau@uga.edu
http://aesl.ces.uga.edu/
and
Chair, Drinking Water and Human Health Community of Practice
National eXtension
http://www.extension.org/

Georgia’s Water Testing and Education Program Includes Uranium and Radon

Reprinted and edited with permission of the author.

The Agricultural and Environmental Services Laboratories (AESL), University of Georgia (UGA), provides testing and educational programs for the public that address uranium and radon and their health effects, as well as other drinking water contaminants.

In Georgia, about 1.8 million people rely on 640,000 private wells for their drinking water supply. The Georgia Environmental Protection Division (GA-EPD) enforces the USEPA’s (Environmental Protection Agency) drinking water standards for human consumption in public water supplies according federal Safe Drinking Water Act. However, private wells are not regulated. Consequently, private well users are responsible for ensuring quality/safety of their water supplies for domestic, livestock, and irrigation through testing and treatment (if required). The University of Georgia Cooperative Extension, through the Agricultural and AESL, has water testing and education programs on bacterial and chemical water quality and also provides other services.

Emerging contaminants of concern in Georgia drinking water include mitigation of uranium and radon. In 2010, the AESL found two emerging contaminants, uranium and arsenic, in some drinking water wells in Georgia. In response, the AESL and county extension personnel developed and delivered a testing, public education, and mitigation program.

Waters with uranium and radon concentrations above USEPA's maximum contaminant level (MCL) of 30 parts per billion (ppb) were detected in some private wells in Georgia. Uranium and radon in well water originates from naturally occurring granitic bedrock located primarily in deep wells in the Piedmont and Blue-Ridge (PBR) regions. Drinking of water that has contaminants above the MCL can cause serious human health problems.

Information about the existence of uranium and radon in Georgia well waters, their health consequences, and treatment systems to remove these contaminants from drinking water were incorporated in water quality circulars and made available to the public. A subsidized water testing program was initiated for well owners to test for uranium. The development team worked with UGA radon educators and Monroe county extension faculties to offer several public educational workshops about uranium in well waters and radon in indoor air to increase public awareness of the problems, the importance of testing, and appropriate treatment systems to remove these contaminants. This program drew attention of and established collaboration with the Monroe County Government, Georgia Department of Community Health, Georgia Department of Natural Resources/Environmental Protection Division, and USEPA.

As of March 8, 2017, the total number of water samples tested for uranium was 1240. Of these, 148 had detectable amounts of uranium (above 10 ppb) with 63 being above the 30 ppb MCL. One of the wells tested as high as 6297 ppb, which is more than 200 times higher than USEPA's MCL for uranium. All of these 63 samples were from the PBR regions above the “Fall Line.” The testing program for radon in water at AESL began on August 26, 2015. As of March 8, 2017, 75 well waters were tested for radon. Out of these 73 had detectable level of radon (100 pCi/L) with 45 exceeding the proposed MCL (300 pCi/L) and 14 exceeding the AMCL (4000 pCi/L). All of these 9 well water samples were from the areas above “Fall Line.” Recent conversations with residents and county officials from other places established a need for more public education, testing, and informational resources.

The UGA cooperative extension has been very active in developing various educational materials for the county extension faculties and general public. Numerous educational materials have been developed. For Water Quality Bulletins and Circulars (visit: http://aesl.ces.uga.edu/publications/watercirc/) and see:
• Circ.858-14. Uranium in Your Water
• Circ.858-16. Radon in Your Water
An online tool for “Drinking Water Interpretation and Recommendations” is available. (Visit: http://aesl.ces.uga.edu/water/recommendations/)

For more information, contact:

Uttam Kumar Saha, Ph.D.
Program Coordinator
Feed and Environmental Water Laboratory
The University of Georgia Cooperative Extension
2300 College Station Road, Athens, GA 30602, USA
Tel: +1-706-542-7690; Fax: +1-706-542-1494
E-mail: sahau@uga.edu
http://aesl.ces.uga.edu/
and
Chair, Drinking Water and Human Health Community of Practice
National eXtension
http://www.extension.org/

What is radon, and why is it dangerous?

The action level for radon, the level where the health risk warrants fixing, is 4 picocuries per liter of air (pCi/l). The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that one in 15 homes nationwide has an elevated level of radon (a level at or above the action level), while one in four homes tested in Nevada has an elevated radon level.

Because Nevada lacks any regulations that protect citizens from radon, the first step toward risk-reduction occurs through education. The second step is to test, as testing is the only way to determine a home or building's radon level.

Additionally, a home should be tested every two years, before or after remodeling and after significant seismic activity.

Read more here.

Radon risks – How concerned should you be?

Beautiful home, but how can you tell if the soil it's built on is emitting hazardous radon gas?

According to the Washington State Department of Health, radon is the single largest source of radiation for most residents of Washington and is the leading cause of lung cancer among non-smokers.

You should definitely take radon seriously if it's present in your home. But that doesn't mean you should walk away from a home you're considering for purchase because of radon fears.

Read more here.

Florida Radon Poster Appears as Snippet in Google Search

by Margaret Henderson

When searching “radon in Florida” the internet search return included an excerpt from “Radon Highlights” of the Florida Department of Health website. http://www.floridahealth.gov/Environmental-Health/radon/index.html Along with the excerpt appeared a snippet—a Florida radon poster winner.

One in five homes in Florida has tested with radon levels in excess of the 4 pCi/L EPA recommended action level. The Radon Highlights page gives a wide array of information. It includes a graphic and link to www.radonleaders.org. Testing requirements and recommendations are given in detail. Information on Radon Resistant New Construction (RRNC) includes a list of more than 60 contractors who have attended trainings on RRNC, the department’s sponsored Florida Homebuilders Association awareness trainings on the techniques of the Florida Statewide Building Code. A section of the website includes information from the National Radon Action Month. Finally, the site includes a poster winners, including the one featured in the snippet, “Don’t Put a Smile on Death’s Face with Radon!” http://www.floridahealth.gov/Environmental-Health/radon/Outreach/_images/hass-1st-stephanie-salgado.png

For information about radon in Florida, contact:
Florida Department of Health

Bureau of Environmental Health
Radon and Indoor Air Quality

4052 Bald Cypress Way, Bin #A08
Tallahassee, FL 32399-1720

Telephone:
850-245-4288

800-543-8279

Idaho Offers Free Radon Training During May 2017

by Margaret Henderson

The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare is offering free training in a two-hour interactive workshop on “Keeping Radon Out of Your Home.” The presentation will give a “Step-by-Step Guide on How to Build Radon Resistant Homes,” explaining what the homeowner can do to help prevent excessive exposure and reduce the risk of lung cancer related deaths in Idaho.

Classes will be taught by Jim Faust, Indoor Environment Program Manager at the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare. Jim has 12 years of experience working with radon education has extensive knowledge of Idaho’s radon testing program. Jerry Peterson, Energy Program Manager for the Idaho Division of Building Safety, will be teaching also. Jerry holds multiple International Code Council (ICC) certifications for inspections and plan reviews, and is nationally certified for conducting home energy audits, radon testing and mitigation.

Topics included in the class are:

  • mitigation strategies;
  • what products are needed; and
  • where to find them and how to install them to ensure that your home is more comfortable, healthy and code compliant.

This free training for homeowners, contractors and remodelers, will be taught in several cities:

  • Coeur d’Alene
  • Lewiston
  • McCall
  • Meridian
  • Idaho Falls
  • Hailey

For specific dates and times of classes, see http://healthandwelfare.idaho.gov/LinkClick.aspx?fileticket=MCUnZuAp4Bo%3d&portalid=0. The American Institute of Architects (AIA) and International Code Council (ICC) have approved the course for continuing education units (CEU).

For more information, visit the website:
http://healthandwelfare.idaho.gov/Health/EnvironmentalHealth/IndoorEnvironment/Radon/tabid/939/Default.aspx