Comments

  • Mitigation Company serving Pocahontas County, West Virginia
    Hi Rob, I happened to notice this request hanging from months ago and I felt bad that you had had zero replies, a little unusual for this list. Not that I had any great advice to give at the time, but wondering how things worked out for you on this? Did you get a good solution? Could WVDHHR's radon office help?
  • Sink holes, Post tension slabs and Radon….Trifecta
    Congratulations on your detective work and on being rewarded for your application of first principles! (Glad it was none of the wild scenarios I and some of us were thinking of.) Those large but hidden breaches through the slab under tubs and showers keep showing up in "houses from heck," so this is a good reminder for mitigators not to forget to explore the existence of those, if not too much trouble, even before doing the first round of post-sealing PFE testing. For example, fixing those first perhaps could reduce the need for a more powerful fan even if a system might have "worked OK" without addressing those gaps.

    And yes, there are such telemetry devices as you're asking about on the market, and I anticipate that these will become more common, as folks become more and more accustomed to the "Internet of Things." I leave it to the experts to discuss their costs, capabilities and limitations.
  • on the passing of Dr Bill Field
    Others above have expressed thoughts so well, but for those who'd want to read a bit more, here are a few things:

    - It's been an honor to be the recipient of Bill's generosity of spirit, ranging from my first conversation with him in the 1990's when we got into our same-hometown (Lancaster, Pa.) connections, to helping my son Henry track down a high school radon-related science fair topic (Tn!) and mentor (Dan Steck!), to even just earlier this year, taking the time to manage the onerous QAPPs process for work on the radon disparity metric.

    - We've just shared the following with the NRAP Leadership Council:
    We mark the passing of R. William “Bill” Field on November 4 with sadness for his passing even as we recall him with great admiration. Many of us working on NRAP knew Bill personally and found him to be a visionary expert on radon, the most productive worker, a tireless advocate, compassionate, generous and easy-going as a person, and a dear friend. The world in which we work on saving lives from radon would be a much more difficult one were it not for Bill’s life of scientific research, perseverance and championship over the decades. Think not only of the Iowa Radon Lung Cancer Case-Control Study, the President’s Cancer Panel Report, the World Health Organization’s Handbook on Radon, the Health Care Provider’s guide and numerous studies, reports, and presentations, but also of Bill’s willingness to take the message of what all that science meant, to put it into human terms, and to use his deep knowledge and professional reputation to call for the kinds of policies that would save lives from radon-induced lung cancer.

    - Finally, I close with brief excerpts from my last conversation with Bill, about only three months ago...
    Bill: "Trying to hang in there. Completed 3rd chemo with a good many issues...."
    Kevin: "... I will bother you with things radon only as much as you feel it’s useful to be distracted by them.
    In other words, no obligation if you get any email from me on the subject...."
    Bill: "Thanks Kevin, I am still working on projects (two NIH R01 grants) at Columbia part time. It is a welcome distraction. Be well."
    That last reply sums up the man pretty well, I'd say.
  • Sink holes, Post tension slabs and Radon….Trifecta
    An amateur here with some thoughts in the hope that one or two might be helpful:
    Agreeing with Bruce's maxim: "Take a whole-building approach until you show it's not." This tack suggests that there might be other pathways than around the slab or through joints/cracks, etc. Hidden utility chases, who knows?
    Re Shawn's: "Can you share a drawing with the data?" Yes, the experts (not me) on this list can give you a lot better advice if they can also see all the details you have.
    Re Doug's comment: "All areas checked have shown neg. pressure below the slab." Are there any areas you haven't tested yet that could reasonably explain those high radon levels? Are there any diurnal/meteorological reasons to suspect that your neg. pressure values do not remain stable? And perhaps you don't need to go to the trouble of making test holes everywhere if you would first use IR vision to look for any obvious places of incursion of soil gas?
    Re Bruce's comment: "Is the rock system with the caves that the site sits on exposed to a cliff face anywhere in the near vicinity. Could wind pressure be messing with you in a strange way?" Makes me think that shared variability in the behavior of multiple simultaneously run CRMs, tracked along with met. data, could indicate some pros and cons for that hypothesis.
    Re Doug's comment: "...before drilling and some testing of the concrete for emanation." I'll take this to mean that you'd be hypothesizing that the concrete itself is the source. Unless you have experience with that happening in your locale, or if this site is a former radioactive tailings dump, I'm inclined to think that radon levels you found are too variable / too high at the high end to think this explanation is likely. I'd save the emanation question for later unless there's an easy-to-do standardized procedure for determining if it's significant (Bill Brodhead, what do you think?).
  • Sad News About Susie Shimek
    Janice Nolen - 2020 -- Rose to prominence from her work with American Lung Association of Tennessee.
    Susie Shimek - 2022 -- Rose to prominence from her work with Tennessee Radon Program
    I like to suppose that now they are happily catching up and comparing notes.
    The Volunteer State has certainly been home to some great environmental health champions.
  • Are these changes needed?
    As a participant representing public health interests on some of the ANSI/AARST standards commmittees (not Mitigation), I do want to underscore the following:
    - We are all in the business of saving lives from radon, and strong yet reasonable standards of practice adopted and implemented across the country not only can ensure that lives are indeed saved, but also can help protect the radon industry from legal and commercial challenges.
    - In my experience, the process of developing standards has always been one that seeks input from beyond the committee membership, particularly if that includes illustrative science and evidence from practitioners. As Dallas has shown above, standard-setting is intended to be open for all to make contributions at https://standards.aarst.org/public-review/ and I do strongly encourage anyone who has recommendations for what the standards should say to provide specific language for such changes along with a cogent accompanying rationale.
    - The principle of the standards requiring only what is needed for safety and effectiveness is something that has always been a touchstone for our work. We certainly recognize that a standard that's "perfect"--and hence, too complex or too onerous, and so is too difficult to follow or is not even used--is a worthless standard. That's why, in our meetings, standards committees are most eager to hear from stakeholders who represent those in the industry who would actually have to live and work under the standard. I have seen proposals simplified and improved after someone active in the field made exactly that sort of commentary.
    - If any radon professonals want to be more involved in the standard-setting process, such as by devoting time to advise standards committees, that kind of interest is certainly welcome: https://standards.aarst.org/participation-in-aarst-consortium-radon-standards/
  • House from Heck
    Henri,
    By those replies, it looks like the walls are the big suspect.
    I'm only a sidewalk superintendent in this particular area of expertise, so I leave it to your judgment if I know only enough to be dangerous...
    For one thing, I do wonder what the tenant would find acceptable, since it may be possible that even if averages are kept quite low, that may not prevent every possible brief excursion above 4 pCi/L. Also, wondering what the radon level is the tenant's current location elsewhere.
    Curious if you're doing surveys (grab sampling, air movement, not just PFEs) at different points near the walls to get a better sense of source location(s) and pathway(s)?
    The sensitivity of the home to rapid peaks also makes me wonder if there is any overpowering (karst?) phenomenon that is sometimes at work. Did you any see diurnal behavior patterns?
    Even wondering about any unusual direct sources of radon--recalling I heard (or is it not the case?) that radium salts were found to be efflorescing onto the basement wall of the Index House. What is your gamma microR meter showing?
    I'd be tempted to say "Well, just directly mitigate that apartment with a dedicated system installed in the corner diametrically opposite the first," but apart from any impracticalities to doing that, unless you adequately characterize what the real problem is, I admit that would just be "Poking and Hoping."
    In any case, be sure to communicate to the owner and tenant that you are consulting with other professionals about this unusually difficult case, all of whom want nothing more than for this mitigation to end quickly and successfully.
  • Air "Purifiers" and Radon
    Bill's paper is excellent in showing both the sensitivity of actual RDP levels to environmental conditions and the ease with which one may interfere with RDP measurements.
    Given that the majority of folks--e.g., homeowners, purchasers, real estate agents, et al.-- involved in decision-making around radon testing and mitigation are not scientifically trained, it seems best to continue with the primary focus remaining on first reducing radon levels, preferably to below the strongest defensible action level, and only then looking to RDP reduction as a further exposure-reduction intervention.
    In most cases, there are simply too many variables associated with RDP control for me to support reliance on it as a technique subsituting for radon gas control--in other words, second-line and supplementing it, yes; first-line or replacing it, no.
  • A successful early study for a blood test to detect lung cancer using cfDNA and AI.

    Thanks, Leo. Exciting stuff.
    Apart from the essential prevention work you and other professionals do, this is the kind of thing we're always hoping will emerge from research - reliable earlier detection with lower risks and costs.
  • Air "Purifiers" and Radon
    P.S. Although I could not locate a copy of this item referenced in Doug's attachment:
    Hopke, P. Studies on the Performance of Air Cleaners and their Optimal Reduction of Dose from Radon Progeny, EPA Cooperative Agreement CR-820470, October 5, 1992-1996.
    I did find this article by Hopke et al.:
    https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/02786829308959635
  • Air "Purifiers" and Radon
    That's excellent stuff, Doug; I'm so glad you jumped in here. I highly recommend that readers listen to the excellent interview Doug did with Dr. Hopke. I definitely learned some things that refined what I may have first picked up on this topic as long as 30 years ago.

    For me, one part of the interview summarizes the findings at the time very well, as Dr. Hopke was discussing how well (or not) he found different air cleaner methodologies worked: "...we had some cases where there was no reduction in dose because of the changing [particle] size distribution. There was no case [among the units studied, of course] where the dose increased. In most cases, the reduction in dose was of the order of half what the reduction in exposure was." In the cases studied, a common exposure reduction was about 50%, with the corresponding dose reduction being about 25%.

    In other words, although the ratio of "unattached fraction to attached fraction" would have increased with application of the air cleaning technique, yielding an altered particle size distribution that may have posed higher risk when measured by the ratio of dose to activity (e.g., mSv/WLM), the fact remains that total activity (WLM) was reduced sufficiently that dose itself never increased, but rather typically decreased.

    Finally, I also want to emphasize that Dr. Hopke very strongly recognizes that testing and ASD mitigation is the first line of defense, but I think it could well be that the role of proper air cleaning methodologies as an adjunct or "trim method" may not have been given its due.
  • Air "Purifiers" and Radon

    Yes, I agree. That captures the understanding well, I think.
    I don't know the efficiency and capacity of typical adsorbent media (e.g., activated carbon) at removing radon itself, but it would be interesting to see a calculation showing how much would be needed to be reasonably effective over a long period of time. My guess is "lots" and that it would be cost-prohibitive.
  • Announcement of Resource Document: Case Study on Montgomery County, MD Law on Radon Testing in Home
    Dear Colleagues,
    For reference, please see my earlier note above.
    However, in your files, and as you may find occasion to distribute this document, please use, attached to this posting, the updated version that includes the appropriate acknowledgment and disclaimer statement
    Please discard any previous version of the case study. Thank you.
    If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me directly at
    Attachment
    ALA Radon Montgomery County Case Study 2021_Final revised 08.16.21 (705K)
  • Monitor placement location
    Lots of great comments here. It almost looks as if the device had been deliberately placed in an area to maximize(!?) the potential for interference (multiple appliances designed to produce air movement; likely pressure differential across doorway providing pathway for draft; unit in walking path). And there seems to be reason for concern whether this room should even be used as the testing location.

    It appears there's unanimity on this thread that this device placement is clearly far from optimal, but the proper way to answer Wally's question "whether this radon monitor placement location meets ... Protocols" is simply to go through the applicable protocol(s) and compare this placement point-by-point. It either meets the standard or it doesn't. If it doesn't, it should be a straightforward matter to identify the point(s) where this placement fails.

    I think that the ANSI-AARST MAH is written quite clearly, but as always, if there is any respect in which such an evaluation against that standard reveals any ambiguity in the language, please bring it to the reviewers' attention: https://standards.aarst.org/public-review/
  • Air "Purifiers" and Radon
    Looking forward to the experts' commentary here, but in the meantime, a few items for the discussion:

    Here is one study from 1990 that describes the relative effectiveness of air cleaning techniques, but bear in mind the constraints imposed by any experimental conditions lest one generalize too easily to real-world conditions: https://www.osti.gov/servlets/purl/6155991

    This document https://www.epa.gov/sites/default/files/2018-07/documents/residential_air_cleaners_-_a_technical_summary_3rd_edition.pdf does include the statement "Note that EPA does not recommend air cleaning to reduce the health risks associated with radon and radon progeny." More detail is provided in that document.

    The bottom line appears to be that although some air cleaning methodologies may, under certain conditions, reduce either radon itself (via use of adequate adsorbent media) or the PAEC of its airborne progeny (via HEPA filtration), the degree of reduction cannot be relied upon to be tantamount to effective mitigation via more classical means (e.g., SSD).

    And even in those cases where PAEC is reduced somewhat as a result of lowering the concentration of airborne particulate matter (via removing those particles carrying radon progeny--the attached fraction), the result is likely to be an increase in the unattached fraction that has been understood for some time to pose a greater health risk: https://aarst.org/proceedings/1991/1991_02_Overview_of_The_Unattached_Fraction_of_Radon_Progeny.pdf
  • RRNC soil gas matt performance data needed for code approval in Denver
    I support folks (both manufacturers and professional installers) bringing whatever quantified evidence they can to Mr. Snead.
    While perhaps Mr. Thies's experience may not be dispositive for all scenarios nationwide, it might strike me as very close to it if he could also quantify the volume of installations he's done over the years, with data for installations with such mats compared with data for non-installation situations (the control group) in the same region. Add other practitioners from elsewhere in the country with similar datasets and affidavits, and that should be convincing for most.
    This also leads me to ask:
    - What level of proof do the Denver code officials say they need from those who are proponents of installing soil gas mat systems?
    - What level of proof are they now satisfied with that demonstrates to them that gravel is effective and necessary?
    It seems to me that the volume and quality of evidence for soil gas mat systems today might well match what was in place decades ago when the use of gravel originally became recognized as an effective solution.
  • Multifamily retesting

    Henri, if you could cite specific aspects where the current standards appear to be unclear and if you have specific recommendations for how that lack of clarity could be remedied, these are always the kinds of things that the standards committees appreciate learning about and want to address. As I'm sure you know, procedures and forms are available here: https://standards.aarst.org/public-review/
  • Multifamily retesting
    It also occurs to me that:
    1) a client's resistance with respect to the need, in clearance testing, to retest units that previously tested low is probably common, and therefore
    a) more education to practitioners about these requirements and
    b) advance advice to clients about what they can expect regarding post-mitigation clearance testing
    may be called for;
    and
    2) an explanation to the client of the rationale for the clearance testing requirements may also be helpful. I seem to recall that there were those mitigators who have described cases in large buildings of elevated radon levels that arose after the initial round of mitigation. The issues of
    a) reasons for the appropriateness of full retesting,
    b) rough likelihoods of what clients can expect, and
    c) how further clearance testing is to be carried out if one or more units are found to be elevated after the first or subsequent round of mitigation
    are all things that both professionals and their clients should have clarity about.
  • Announcement of Lung Association's Radon Basics online training program
    Thanks very much for the reviews!

    To Chrys's question, we had made a decision to put the Resources tab up only in Module 3--which made reference to some items we posted there--but your comment does raise the question for us about whether we should simply show that tab no matter where one is in the course.

    I'll admit that it is rather understated, but at the top right of the display screen when one is in Module 3 there is the "RESOURCES" tab with a few standard EPA items available via links in a drop-down menu. See the image attached that shows how that appears.

    If there are any places where we direct people to the Resources section, but don't have it posted, please let me know at exactly which Module/page that's on. Thanks for bringing this up. And of course, for everyone, don't hesitate to use freely the opportunity for remarks in the Evaluation at the end of the course.
    Attachment
    Rn Basics Resources Screenshot (182K)
  • Slate tile and antique radios as a radon source?
    Very generous! You have certainly become one of those folks your Dad advised you to go to conferences to listen to. :-)

Kevin M Stewart

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