Archive for the 'Environmental Health' category

Sochi? So What? Public and Environmental Health at the Winter Olympics

By Michael Heintz, MS, JD, senior specialist, environmental laboratories, APHL

Sochi? So What? Public and Environmental Health at the Winter Olympics | www.aphlblog.org

Hi. I’m Michael and I admit it: I’m a Winter Olympics fanatic. From learning new geography at the Opening Ceremonies, to hoping for that US-Canada hockey game, and seeing the short-track speed skaters hurl themselves in roller-derby-on-ice, I can’t get enough. I’ll even watch a couple hours of curling. I’m all-in for two weeks (well, except ice dancing, but that’s another post).

However, in the midst of the competition and spectacle, the public and environmental health aspects can get lost. With the international locations, huge crowds and new buildings, the footprint of the Olympics can be significant. So where do the Olympics intersect with public and environmental health?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides basic information if you’re heading to the Games (and more generally for international travel). In addition to routine vaccinations, like chicken pox and your flu shot (which you should already have!), the CDC recommends specific ones for Russia, such as hepatitis-A and others if you are particularly at-risk or heading to remote areas. Visitors should also prepare a travel health kit, including the medications they might need during travel. The CDC even provides a list of Russian phrases to use if you are sick or injured.

Next, one particular aspect of public health at the Games is interaction with the other spectators or athletes. Always remember to wash your hands, wear your seatbelt and generally stay aware of your surroundings. And yes, sexually transmitted infections are a concern at the Olympics. Organizers help the athletes by distributing condoms (150,000 were distributed to athletes at the London Games), but you might be on your own, so be prepared.

Finally, we cannot ignore the environmental impact of the Games. Sochi has an average population of 350,000 people. The 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver attracted an estimated 500,000 visitors plus another 10,000 journalists and 2,700 athletes (not counting security or volunteers). In all, Sochi’s size may double (or more) for the Games. The huge number of people coming to this Black Sea resort town, plus the construction of the new venues and other capacity improvements, will stress Sochi’s environment.

In 1996, the International Olympic Committee added environmental protection as the third pillar of the Olympics. As part of this commitment, Sochi organizers are making efforts to build and conduct the Games in an environmentally responsible manner, including a Green Building recognition program. But with a $50 billion price tag to build and run the events, the environmental impacts include increased construction waste, water shortages, habitat disruption and increased logging. All of these activities increase the amount of pollution in air, soil and water resources. Add the increased demand for drinking and wastewater services, transportation, and curiously, saving last year’s snow, and the overall environmental impact of the Games may be significant. However, we won’t know the full effects until after the Games are over. Looking ahead, the Rio Summer Games have already launched their sustainability program for 2016. Expect future Olympics host-cities to continue concentrating on environmental concerns when preparing for the Games.

While the public and environmental health concerns don’t decrease my appreciation for the spectacle that is the Olympics, including the athlete’s amazing abilities and the two weeks of global good will, it does add context to what goes into making such an event happen. Just another reminder that public and environmental health is part of everything.

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Sarin Gas Attacks in Syria: What if it happened in the US?

Nov 19 2013 :: Published in Environmental Health

By Surili Sutaria Patel, Senior Specialist, Environmental Health, APHL 

“It is the worst use of chemical weapons on civilians in the 21st century,” said United Nation’s Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon.

On the cool night of August 21st, residents of Ghouta, a suburb of the Syrian city of Damascus, were abruptly awakened by an explosion. In a region ravaged by civil war, explosions were unfortunately common; this particular explosion, however, was different.

An artillery rocket containing sarin gas had been released in the night, as the temperature dropped right before dawn. The cold, now-toxic air in Ghouta did not rise. Instead, the heavy gas circulated close to the ground and pervaded the lower levels of buildings where families rested for the night.

Almost immediately, many felt an onslaught of troubling symptoms: shortness of breath, disorientation, irritated eyes, blurred vision, nausea and vomiting. Many dropped into unconsciousness and over 1,400 people died, including 400 children, who would have been getting ready to go to school a few hours later.

Sarin is a volatile, man-made nerve agent used as a chemical weapon. First developed in Germany as a pesticide in 1938, sarin is a very toxic and fast acting gas. It is difficult to detect as it is a clear, colorless, tasteless and odorless vapor. Sarin enters the body through the eyes, skin, lungs or eating contaminated food. Instantly after exposure to the gaseous form and a few minutes after exposure to the liquid form the toxic effects of this chemical will present in humans. Sarin is a deadly chemical yet it is short-lived in the environment, presenting a very serious public health threat.

Given the symptoms (and the assumption that chemical weapons had been used), the UN stepped in to officially determine the cause of illness & death. They assembled an investigative team of scientists from Finland, Germany, Sweden and Switzerland to examine both environmental and clinical samples (blood, hair and urine).

A total of 30 environmental samples were collected from two impact sites and analyzed by two laboratories. Concurrently, a clinical investigation advanced: in addition to conducting medical examinations, 34 victims were selected to provide blood and urine samples for further investigation. Nearly 85% of the blood samples tested positive for sarin. The investigative team reported back with great confidence that the chemical weapon used was in fact, sarin.

The world mourned for these innocent people, so devastated by such an atrocious crime. The large-scale use of such weapons against civilians led to increased international attention on chemical weapons of mass destruction: their possession, storage, destruction, and use. Not only did the global community call for Syria to disclose and destroy their chemical weapons, but many countries examined their own system for responding to such an attack.

Sarin Gas Attacks in Syria: What if it happened in the US? | www.aphlblog.org

While it is painful to think of, what if this reprehensible act of terrorism had taken place on US soil? Americans are protected by the CDC-funded Laboratory Response Network (LRN) which maintains an integrated network of laboratories that can respond quickly to acts of biological or chemical terrorism, as well as all the other wonderful first responders that skillfully approach such a scene.   The Laboratory Response Network for Chemical Threats (LRN-C), comprises 54 public health laboratories at the local, state, and territorial levels, and has protocols similar to the UN investigative team: from the systematic method used to select individuals for clinical testing to the chain of custody protocols practiced when collecting and shipping the samples to the appropriate laboratories. LRN-C operates as a network of laboratories designated Level 1, 2 or 3 laboratory capabilities.

  • Level 3 laboratories work with hospitals and first responders for clinical specimen collection, storage and shipment.
  • Level 2 laboratories employ chemists trained to detect various toxic chemical agents, including nerve agents such as sarin.
  • Level 1 laboratories use high-throughput analysis to serve as surge-capacity laboratories for CDC, in case CDC is overwhelmed by the number of samples. These labs also have the capability to test even more chemicals than the Level 2 laboratories.

The LRN, with funding and assistance from CDC, serves as a global, national, state and local asset. Its staff remains crucial to any chemical response in the United States and even abroad.

While we hope for that day where the potential for such atrocities no longer exists, we recognize the need to remain vigilant and prepared. Most importantly, our hearts and thoughts remain with the people of Ghouta, and Syria at large.

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Biomonitoring, Tracking and Keeping You Healthy

Oct 24 2013 :: Published in Environmental Health

By Surili Sutaria Patel, MS, Senior Specialist, Environmental Health, APHL

There are multiple ways the environment – the air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we eat and the places we learn, work and play – influences our health. By measuring hazardous substances in our environment we can gain a better understanding of how we can reduce our exposures and prevent health problems in the future.

Biomonitoring, Tracking and Keeping You Healthy | www.aphlblog.org

The National Environmental Public Health Tracking Network (or Tracking Network) is a system that tracks all these factors to better understand how the environment is impacting our health. The Tracking Network, headed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), provides 24 grants to state and local health departments to participate. Each jurisdiction has its own Network, but also feeds data into the National Tracking Network Portal. This lends insight into a variety of health indicators (e.g., air quality, birth defects, cancer, heart attacks, climate change, etc.), across geographic location and time, and more.

Biomonitoring – a tool used to measure hazardous substances once they have entered the body – furthers our knowledge of harmful environmental exposures. By examining blood and urine samples, biomonitoring programs have produced local exposure data identifying potentially-harmful chemicals and toxic substances in the human body. Biomonitoring studies can also compare results to CDC’s national biomonitoring data to learn whether a specific locality is more exposed than the US population.

By connecting tracking and biomonitoring data, states like Washington, Utah and Wisconsin are identifying harmful chemicals in both the environment and the human body. For example, in a webinar titled Environmental Public Health Tracking Meetings Public Health Labs, state environmental health director, Dr. Sam LeFevre outlined how the Utah Department of Health used tracking resources for conducting a state-wide biomonitoring study on lead and mercury exposure in newborn bloodspots. As one of the states that made up the Rocky Mountain Biomonitoring Consortium, and funded by CDC’s Phase 2 Implementation Grant from the Tracking Network, LeFevre and his team use neonatal bloodspots for conducting population surveillance for heavy metal exposure.

They chose metals because Utah is the third largest mining state in the US, with 24 active mines. Utah also has many fishing waters, 19 of which have fish advisories due to high mercury and other harmful metals. A lesson learned during the years Utah had an active child blood lead poisoning program was that the children most affected by lead poisoning were from upper-income families, who lived in homes with backyards made up of soil rich in metal oxides, traced back to their mining history. Now, by conducting biomonitoring on the bloodspots, the Utah Department of Health is painting a more accurate picture of the cause of elevated blood lead and mercury levels in children across the state. To learn more about Utah’s study, please view the free webinar. Here you will also find a presentation on Wisconsin’s tracking and biomonitoring work.

If you would like to share a success story about tracking and biomonitoring, please contact EH@aphl.org.

 

 

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Massive Molasses Mess and the Laboratory Response

This month is National Preparedness Month.  Follow APHL on our blogTwitter and Facebook for preparedness information and discussions all month!

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By Megan Latshaw, Director, Environmental Health Program, APHL

“It was shocking because the entire bottom is covered with dead fish. Small fish, crabs, mole crabs, eels. Every type of fish that you don’t usually see, but now they’re dead. Now they’re just laying there. Every single thing is dead. We’re talking in the hundreds, thousands. I didn’t see one single living thing underwater.” ~ Roger White, a diver (Massive Molasses Spill Devastates Honolulu Marine Life, NPR)

Massive Molasses Mess and the Laboratory Response) | www.aphlblog.org

We’ve all heard of killing someone with kindness, but who knew that sweetness could deal such destruction? The sweetness comprises almost 250,000 gallons of molasses, spilled into Honolulu harbor on September 9th as it was being loaded into a ship via pipeline.

Because the greatest priority relates to public health, the Hawaii Department of Health is leading the response rather than the US Environmental Protection Agency or the US Coast Guard.

Their State Laboratories Division will be doing bacteria testing (enterococci, clostridium and total).  Since this spill is relatively unprecedented the first two bacterial tests were chosen because 1) Hawaii has a lot of data on them and 2) they are currently used to monitor water quality. Scientists are not sure how the spill will affect these indicators but they theorize that the dead fish and the nutrient-rich liquid could lead to unusual growth in marine algae and harmful bacteria. These data plus some chemistry and physical parameters will help them figure out when things are starting to get back to normal.

Meanwhile, the laboratory expects to run out of supplies for this valuable testing.  They have called upon their peer network to borrow and replace consumables from their labs, on the outside possibility that their suppliers cannot provide them with the necessary materials quickly enough. Such outreach emphasizes the importance of building relationships through networks such as the Laboratory Response Network and the Environmental Response Laboratory Network.

Click the image above for an interview with Hawaii’s public health laboratory director and many of their staff.

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What is the EPA’s Water Security Division?

This month is National Preparedness Month.  Follow APHL on our blogTwitter and Facebook for preparedness information and discussions all month!

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By Michael Heintz, MS, JD, Senior Specialist, Environmental Laboratories

What is the EPA’s Water Security Division? | www.aphlblog.org

As we continue our march through preparedness month, did you know there are people devoted to protecting our water infrastructure?

Before you think, “right, it’s the EPA and they use the Clean Water Act.” While you’re partially right, it is a division within the US EPA, you should know this division works exclusively at protecting drinking water and wastewater treatment plants, pipes, and other physical components of the system. The Water Security Division (WSD) works to prevent, detect, respond to and recover from water hazards. These threats can include purposeful contamination of a drinking water system, a natural disaster, or an accident that threatens the water health of a community.

The WSD has four goals to advance the efforts to protect water infrastructure:

1. Sustain protection of public health and the environment;
2. Recognize and reduce risk;
3. Maintain a resilient infrastructure; and
4. Increase communication, outreach and public confidence.

The WSD works with the nearly 160,000 public water systems (PWS—drinking water distribution), and 16,000 publicly owned treatment works (POTWs—wastewater treatment) to help ensure safe and secure distribution of drinking water and collection and treatment of wastewater. All told, public water systems serve nearly 84%, and POTWs service almost 75%, of the US population. The rest are served by private water systems (like wells) and septic systems

The Water Security Division undertakes a number of activities every year to help ensure the safe operation of the nation’s water infrastructure. The WSD provides resources and programs to address critical issues like intentional contamination, contamination detection, mutual aid, vulnerability assessments, emergency response capabilities, communication strategies, and how to monitor incidents and threats. In addition, the WSD developed a number of tools that drinking water and wastewater facilities can use to increase their own preparedness levels.

One particularly active portion of the WSD is the Water Laboratory Alliance (hey, this is a laboratory blog, after all!). This laboratory-specific portion of the WSD provides laboratories with resources to help them respond to a water security threat. Of particular importance, the WLA provides training and exercise opportunities, communication outlets, and tools for emergency response. The WLA Response Plan goes so far as to outline the steps laboratories should undertake when responding to a water emergency.

With all of these resources at their disposal, drinking water and wastewater systems should be well prepared for an emergency scenario. If you have questions about your water systems, you can contact EPA at the Safe Drinking Hotline either via email or at 800-426-4791. Or, review the Hotline Reports to see answers to prior questions. Your individual utilities can also answer specific questions or review the Safe Drinking Water Information System to see what is in your water.

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Arsenic in our Food (and Public Health Laboratories)

May 09 2013 :: Published in Environmental Health

By Surili Sutaria, senior specialist, Environmental Health, APHL

Over a year ago consumers expressed outrage following a Dr. Oz episode on arsenic levels in apple juice. The episode highlighted a Consumer Reports study that drew attention to arsenic in rice. The media coverage underscored that food and beverages represent the largest source of arsenic exposure for most Americans, yet arsenic is currently only regulated in drinking water.

Apple juice

Arsenic in drinking water comes either from naturally-occurring sources in the soil or from agricultural or industrial byproducts. For health reasons (arsenic is a well-known poison), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency set a maximum contaminant level of 10 parts per billion for inorganic arsenic.

You may have noticed the reference to inorganic arsenic, which is one of the three forms of arsenic. The inorganic form of arsenic, created when arsenic combines with elements other than carbon, is potentially harmful to humans. Exposure to inorganic arsenic increases the risk for bladder, kidney, liver, lung and skin cancers. But there are limitations to this knowledge, such as at what concentration and over what period of time is arsenic considered harmful to humans. Although the type of arsenic predominately found in foods is organic, the World Health Organization states that some common foods in our diet (like rice, juices and vegetables) do contain inorganic arsenic.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s deputy commissioner for foods, Michael Taylor, stated that the agency’s ongoing data collection and analysis aims to provide a basis for determining action to reduce exposure to arsenic in foods. Still, though, concerns escalate as consumers realize that infant foods such as rice cereal and some formulas contain potentially-contaminated rice. The lack of understanding of the science has prompted both the public and the media to demand action.

How can my state or local public health laboratory take action?

Public health laboratories have the technology and the knowledge to test for arsenic in drinking water, food and people, and to potentially help answer questions being raised by the media. This testing capability is largely due to CDC’s investment in chemical threat preparedness at the state and local levels. Funded laboratories looking to use their instruments more fully may consider biomonitoring – a tool used to assess people’s exposure to chemicals and toxic substances in the body – as an option. This dual-use opportunity will not only bridge gaps in research, but also lead to policy decisions that may help protect the health of Americans.

“I have long thought that public health laboratories should take advantage of ‘dual use’ opportunities offered by the CDC via our chemical threat funded instruments…especially in the realm of ICP-MS testing of heavy metals,” Dr. Patrick Luedtke, senior public health officer from the Lane County Department of Health and Human Services.

Recently, the Washington State Department of Health used their CDC Laboratory Response Network funding to conduct a state-wide biomonitoring study to test arsenic and other metals in humans and their environments. To learn more about how Washington State Department of Health completed their study, please see the “Efforts to Reduce Harmful Exposures to Washingtonians” article in the Winter 2013 issue of APHL’s Lab Matters.

 

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What We’re Reading—Earth Day Edition

Apr 22 2013 :: Published in Environmental Health, What We're Reading

Planet Earth

By Michael Heintz, Senior Specialist, Environmental Laboratories, APHL

As we near the end of Earth Day 2013, I always wonder if the momentum from the day will be maintained in the coming days, weeks, and months. Surili got us started with a great post on some of the latest issues with climate change, and there were articles and activities from a wide variety of sources. But what about tomorrow and the next day and the next? I recommend the links below to learn more about what you can do to continue the aims of Earth Day—reducing pollution, limiting resource consumption, and generally getting a little more green.

Take action!

Learn more!

  • Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things, by Michael Braungart and William McDonough: This is a great book about the green economy and how sustainability can strengthen business.
  • American Chemistry Society: The ACS is a great resource for information on chemistry and other science topics in easy to digest forms (yes, I watched the podcast on the chemistry of beer foam—it was research!).
  • Involve Children: There are lots of resources for involving kids in environmental responsibility. Here are games organized by topic, activities you can do with them, and books on science and nature. (Of course, this list wouldn’t be complete without a reference to The Lorax.)
  • Earth Day Apps: No reason to leave your smartphone out of the fun!
  • New (to you?) Issues: If you are interested in learning about some of the new issues that seem to be making news, here are good resources on sustainability, toxic algae, and invasive species.

These links just scratch the surface of what’s out there. If you have additional ideas to share, we’d like to hear them! How are you making Earth Day more than just one day a year?

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Happy Earth Day — There’s Still More to Do

Apr 22 2013 :: Published in Environmental Health

By Surili Sutaria, Senior Specialist, Environmental Health, APHL

Today marks the 43rd Earth Day – a day to celebrate the place we all call home. Every year, people all over the world host events to honor the Earth and support the growing appreciation and awareness of environmental protection. The first Earth Day, held in 1970, was supported by nearly 20 million Americans. Today, there are over 190 countries that observe this day. Yet the encouraging message remains the same: protect our planet.

Planet Earth

This year, the Earth Day Network’s “Faces of Climate Change” promotes the diversity of climate change by raising awareness of climate change as an issue to human health, as well as its effects on wildlife  forests, severe weather patterns and more. The changing climate impacts all inhabitants of the Earth.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency eloquently describes the issues climate change presents to our planet: the earth is warming and it is affecting everyone. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention explains the connection between climate change and human health: as the climate becomes warmer, extreme weather events (such as heat waves, floods, hurricanes and more) occur more frequently and more severely all over the world, and our ability to protect the health of our families and neighbors becomes more difficult. In some parts of the world, droughts and floods impact food and water sources leading to malnutrition or disease. Sometimes droughts force families to relocate leaving behind their homes and their way of life causing mental distress. Water sources can become contaminated. With increasing temperatures, the risk of emerging or reemerging infectious diseases (i.e., malaria or dengue fever) increases.  To learn more about climate change and public health, read Get the Facts: Climate is a Public Health Issue, by the American of Public Health Association.

Greenhouse gas graphic

Overwhelming scientific consensus indicates that the climate is changing in part because of human activity. According to the World Health Organization, our exceptional ability to emit carbon dioxide and other harmful greenhouse gases over the past 50 years has triggered changes in temperature, natural disasters and patterns of infection. Collectively, we emit these harmful pollutants via our use of electricity, transportation, industry, housing and agriculture. Individually, there are many steps we can take to reduce our use of greenhouse gases, such as walking, biking or taking public transportation; turning off lights when we are not at home, buying locally-sourced produce, and more.

Part of raising awareness of Earth Day is prompting individuals to take action by doing something different in their lives to protect our planet. In the spirit of doing something different, tell us what you are doing different to support the international Earth Day celebration.

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Tap Water vs. Bottled Water

Mar 27 2013 :: Published in Environmental Health

By Michael Heintz, Senior Specialist, Environmental Laboratories, APHL

Tap Water

Do you drink tap water? Did you know that there are a number of safeguards ensuring the water you receive from municipal or community sources is safe to drink? It’s true! Before communities provide water to their residents, it must meet the requirements of the Safe Drinking Water Act to ensure its safety and drinkability. To meet the law, public water goes through a treatment plant before distribution. In these plants, the water can be subjected to a variety of actions including filtration, settling of solids, and disinfection typically through the addition of chlorine. (The low levels of chlorine added to your water are closely monitored and are safe for consumption.) Although you sometimes see discoloration or detect a slight odor on occasion, the water at your tap meets this federal law.

TapVSWaterWe know you’re asking, “Ok, that’s great, but how do I know the water meets the law?” Rest easy because an environmental laboratory in your state tests the water before the community distributes it. And, in fact, a state or US EPA must certify these laboratories for competency and quality assurance before they can conduct the tests. Public drinking water can only be tested by those laboratories approved to do so. While the frequency of testing and the chemical tested for varies by state, many laboratories test for number of contaminants on a daily and weekly basis. Then, at least once per year, public water systems must release a Consumer Confidence Report showing their communities the average results of the tests. Typically water utilities mail them directly to you, but more are going electronic. These reports contain information on your tap water including chemical-by-chemical results, explanations on the drinking water requirements and legal limits, and method of disinfection.

So let’s review the safeguards on your tap water:

  • A treatment plant to clean and disinfect the water,
  • Requirements to meet the Safe Drinking Water Act,
  • Regular testing by state or EPA certified laboratories,
  • And annual public reporting.

Bottled Water

Now, what about bottled water? First, the Food and Drug Administration, not EPA, regulates bottled water as a packaged food. Consequently, federal law does not require bottled water to be cleaner than tap water—in fact the standards are nearly identical. And, in some ways, government regulates bottled water less than tap water. For example, bottled water companies do not need certified laboratories to test their product. While bottled water is tested, almost any laboratory can do the work. In addition the FDA does not require a standard laboratory method for testing bottled water. With tap water, all the labs use the same testing procedure as EPA—ensuring consistency among the certified labs. Moreover, bottled water companies do not send you annual reports on the quality of the bottled water. Although you could just look at your consumer confidence report—an estimated 25% of all bottled water comes from municipal tap water.

Finally, there’s the plastic used. Did you know that Americans use enough bottled water each week to make a line of bottles 155,000 miles long? Next, do you recycle? Good—most people don’t: four billion pounds of plastic bottles go into landfills or become litter each year. In both cases, that’s a lot of plastic. How many bottles do you use a week?

So as you go get yourself a glass of water, think about where it comes from and what went into getting you that water. Our tap water is safe and we have the data to prove it.  I’ll be filling up at the tap.

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The Silent Killer

Feb 06 2013 :: Published in Environmental Health

By Megan Latshaw, Director, Environmental Health Programs, APHL

Imagine a killer that you can’t see, hear, touch, or smell… one that can creep through walls and floors, killing you so slowly that you’re not even aware of it.

How would you protect yourself? Who would believe you if you tried to tell them?

This is not a reprise of the Invisible Man, it’s not the story of a paranoid schizophrenic, but rather it’s the story of radon – an odorless, colorless gas found under homes, schools and workplaces across the US.

Did you know?  Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the US. Exposure to radon is responsible for an estimated 20,000 lung cancer deaths each year.

Radon remediation system

So this is a story of radon, but it’s sort of my story too… Not many people can say they almost caused a family rift over radon, right? I can.

Our story

Finally ready to settle down and buy a house, my husband and I employed his father (a real-estate agent) to guide us through the process. Walking through the door of the second house we visited, I knew: this was it! Every step through the house increased my certainty. The first time I hesitated was in the basement.

A funny looking plastic thing with a pipe going up through the ceiling made a soft whooshing sound. I asked my father-in-law what it was and he said it was a radon remediation system. Radon! Ack! My environmental health training kicked in and my prior elation slammed back to earth.

Not to be so easily discouraged, I did what everyone would do: I googled it. According to EPA, remediation systems are pretty successful at reducing cancer risk. But not to be too easily soothed, I decided we needed testing to make sure the system worked properly.

Here’s where the story gets interesting: my father-in-law tried to discourage me from asking for testing. He tried to tell me it “wasn’t anything to worry about.” “What?!” I responded, “Lung cancer isn’t anything to worry about?!” I could feel my frustration rising to surface. “What if we have children someday?” He just rolled his eyes and smiled. Well that sealed the deal: I demanded that we have tests done.

You may think the story is over, but this may be the most important part. My dear (he really is a dear) father-in-law recommended a company to do the testing. Knowing from my research that there are certifications for radon professionals, I immediately searched the lists for the company he recommended… they were not certified! I was livid, first he rolls his eyes at me, then he gives me a non-certified company.

Luckily, I did my own research and our results (from a certified testing company) came in at acceptable levels. Luckily too, my husband’s father is a sweet, lovable guy, who I hope now takes radon more seriously. (Are you reading this, Bob?)

(I won’t go into the story of my battle with my daughter’s day care over their lack of testing for radon, despite being in a hot spot.)

So what can you do?

  • Check out the EPA’s website.
  • Test your home.
  • Talk to your children’s schools about testing.
  • Potentially save a life!

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