(12 min.) Breathing Easier: An Informational Radon Video for Physicians

(12 min.) Breathing Easier: An Informational Radon Video for Physicians


Do you know about Radon? My dad was Richard Williams. He was a very prominent urologist. He was a very smart man, he was very well
educated he was top of his field, and still radon came in and took him away
from us. He had worked so hard, his whole life as a physician, to be with his patients and he was just getting
to the part where he could relax and be with his family; and we miss that. Mom and I were looking through all of the lung cancer causes and trying to understand why my
dad would get lung cancer and we saw radon. I think that that
moment we kinda went ‘well what’s radon?’ and
tried to figure out more about that. That is when we discovered that there is a very inexpensive easy test we could purchase to find out
more about the levels in our home, We went to at the local hardware store
and picked up a home radon kit and put it in the basement to get the
results, that was only found out that we had very
high levels in my parents home It was registering at about 18 so we knew we were in a danger zone and the email was very clear that we needed to have some more testing done. So we contacted a Radon professional in the Iowa area and had them come and they placed machines around the house for I think it’s about five days and when
those levels came back the basement was a sixteen, the main
floor was and eight, and my parents bedroom upstairs was nine and a half. This house is 25 years old, it is very well maintained, my parents
had put time and money into making sure it’s the best I can be for them to enjoy, and there’s no reason that this house should
have it any more than any others I think when you think there’s something wrong
with your house you think it’s an old decaying yucky basement, well there basement isn’t an old decaying yucky basement. It is well maintained. If your house is beautiful, if your house is not beautiful, there’s nothing that radon knows, it is
just a gas from the ground and it can be anywhere. It just needed a simple venting
procedure to get the radon out. We first started
talking to family members and everybody said oh yeah I have that monitor in my house
in and immediately we knew they were talking about a CO monitor and that they they didn’t know what Radon was. We even thought the same thing at first, so we’ve taken care that, but I think really radon is so unknown people don’t
understand that there isn’t a plugin device to put in your house. It’s not that simple it’s it’s a simple
test to do, but we don’t have these in our houses
already. I think if I could have one message for my dad
it would be to go get the test it costs less than going to Starbucks in getting two drinks
for two people to go and get a test and put in your basement or your lower
level and find out if you have radon in your
house. We talked about the fact that he said it
if this is why I have lung cancer from radon than I wanted to blow this out of the
water. I don’t think he had enough time to be
able to take the message as far as he would like to. I think that it progressed so quickly that he wasn’t able to do that. His biggest legacy in his death through lung cancer would be to make sure that people are getting their homes tested. I would love if the medical profession
could help everybody with this. I know when I go to my pediatrician’s
office with my children there’s tons of signs on the door about
carbon monoxide or poison controllers or so many different
things that I need to follow up on, but I’ve never seen anything about radon. So it’s very important to me for the
doctors and nurses to be able to tell us or give us an idea that it is something we need to look into, it is something we need to
follow up on at our own homes, so that we can be
keeping our families safe. I would like you as medical professionals to encourage your patients to get the
test. We don’t know everything there is to
know yet, we’re still learning, but we can start with this test. It’s odorless, tasteless, and colorless, there are no sensory reminders to alert us to its present. Radon is a radioactive gas, a silent killer,
which is seeping into homes and workplaces across this nation. Radon gas is a radioactive decay product of radium. Radium occurs naturally below the
earth’s surface and soil rock and water. As Radium decays, it produces radon gas which collects and
soil and groundwater. Radon in turn decays through alpha
particle emission. Alpha particles generally do not
penetrate through the dead layer of the skin so it is not considered an external
radiation exposure hazard. However radon decays into a serious a
solid radioactive decay products that can remain unattached in the air or
attached to existing aerosols for other airborne particles. Depending on the size of the particles
the decay products and the attachment rate, the particles
can be inhaled and deposited in the lungs on the respiratory epithelium. Once inhaled to two of the radon decay products: polonium 218 and polonium 214 undergo
further alpha decay; in part the greatest radiation dose to
the inner lining of the lung, because buildings are not generally
built radon resistant, radon tends to concentrate indoors. Radon
has been found in various concentration levels nationwide. It generally enters at the lowest level
the building and can move into other areas, especially
when the building is heated or cooled using forced air. All buildings can potentially help
elevated concentrations of radon; even new constructions. Radon enters
buildings through cracks in foundation walls and floors, as well as spaces around conduits and
pipes. Even use a groundwater can contribute to indoor radon levels. The National Research Council’s
Committee on the biological effects of ionizing radiation at the National Academy of Science has
documented the positive dose-response findings of lung cancer risk based on eleven large-scale studies of radon exposed underground miners. Their findings indicated that radon is a potent occupational carcinogen and concluded at
that new cases of lung cancer are greatly increased by radon exposure to the general population. The EPA
estimates that radon is responsible for over 21,000 lung cancer deaths each year in the
United States. Direct evidence from combined or pooled
residential radon studies performed in North America, China, and Europe supports the EPA’s
mortality estimates. It is an underappreciated fact that
radon exposure is the second leading cause of lung cancer and the leading cause of lung cancer in
individuals who have never smoked. Most radon induced lung cancers occur
from protracted exposure to low and medium radon
concentrations. In the United States radon is a leading
environmental cause cancer mortality and the seventh leading cause of cancer
mortality overall. As physicians and health care providers we should all become proactive in the
fight against radon and the efforts to get the word out. We
must join the front lines to this battle to
reduce cancer. Our best defense against radon related lung cancer is to raise public awareness and
knowledge, educating patients about the risks ,and promoting the use a radon test kits
is something everyone can do and should do. As a
health care provider you are in a position to help spread the
word that researchers have found elevated levels of radon in all 50
states and throughout Canada. It is estimated
that high levels of radon can be found in as many as one in fifteen homes
across our nation and people won’t know if they have
significant or actionable levels of radon where they live or work unless they test. Test kits are simple to
use, inexpensive, and widely available kits
can often be found in local hardware stores, County Extension offices, and even
ordered over the Internet. There are basically two types of test
kits available. Short term kits are single-use. They work
by sampling the air and the environment over several days.
Place in a basement crawlspace or other suspect areas. They trap radon particles from the air
into charcoal containers. That container is then sealed and mailed to a laboratory for analysis. The cost to purchase these kits is
minimal and it often includes the cost of a certified laboratories evaluation and delivery of the results. The second type is a long-term radon
detector that is placed in the home for one year. Long-term tests are available for
purchase in the same locations as short term test. They are designed to
sample levels of radon over extended periods of time. When the
lab report arrives numbers will clearly state the levels of
radon found in the sampled area, understanding the numbers on the report
is important, they will tell you if you need to take
action or simply test again in a few years. Radon levels are shown as a number of Pico curies per liter
studies have shown that in the United States our average outdoor levels or 0.4 Pico
curies per liter and indoor levels average about 1.3 Pico
curies per liter. While the EPA’s current take action
level is for people curies per liter, they remind you that radon is a
radioactive gas and suggest you may want to consider mitigating procedures with levels between two and four picoCuries
per liter. The world health organization currently
recommends three Pico curies per liter as a worldwide guideline If test results
demonstrate elevated levels of radon, we recommend taking action as quickly as
possible to have a mitigation system installed. Often certified professionals only need
a day in your home to seal cracks and install a radon mitigation system
that lowers levels of radon by venting it safely outside because
there are so many variables involved it is difficult to predict the cost but
many people find the cost is similar to a basic home repair job and professionals will
provide estimates in advance for performing the work. Remember the risk of radon associated
lung cancer is reduced as quickly as a mitigation system is in place. Act now, test your home, and educate your
patients, families, and friends. You never know
who’s life you may be saving. I tested my home in
the past and found the radon levels were normal I retested a couple years ago and found
they had risen to six pico curies per liter. I immediately contacted a certified
professional and have them install a radon mitigation system. Overnight the radon levels went from six Pico
curies per liter to 0.6 the pico curies per liter.My family and I now breathe easier.

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About the Author: Oren Garnes

5 Comments

  1. As a radon mitigator, I welcome this video. The public doesn't know much about radon yet it is the leading cause of lung cancer about nonsmokers. People need to hear the message about radon from the health care community. Good job.

  2. We are buying a home here in wisconsin and we had radon testing done and the overall average result is 3.7pci and the recommended EPA approved is 4.0pci which is only just below the average..

    Should we consider the seller do mitigation in the home????? Please help we have a 1yr old baby..

  3. I live on the top floor of a 4 story apartment building. Will there be radon gas in my apartment? Also would HEPA filters remove radon from the air?

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