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Debunking the myths of radon hazards


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Hello Ladies and Gents:

Over the last several months, I have received comments from various quarters, expressing the opinion that information on our radon page is outdated and incorrect.

These critics have opined that there is a scientific consensus that residential exposures to radon causes cancer, and that it is, essentially, a proven fact. In reality, that simply is not true, and there is not a single valid study on the Planet Earth that has made such a proof.

Some of these folks have offered, as their proof, three recent scientific peer reviewed papers which they believe support their opinions.

I have provided an independent review of those papers on a new web site located at:

http://forensic-applications.com/radon/reviews.html

Please feel free to report any typos and the like.

Cheers!

Caoimhín P. Connell

Forensic Industrial Hygienist

www.forensic-applications.com

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Once again, hours of a Sunday morning pilfered by science and objectivity leading to me performing just home inspections.

Since you asked to have typos "and the like" reported, I find the full screen text hard to read. I much prefer a page on the screen look.

Thanks again Caoimhin for taking the time to keep us up to speed

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I guess my question would be as to why the governments in every country that have radon issues state that Radon causes health problems.

I just can't seen the United States, Canada, Sweden, Denmark, Germany and many more governmental agencies getting it wrong. But then I'm only a home inspector and not a scientist. Now on the other hand I am a fairly logical and realistic individual.

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Careful,

Caoimhin is approaching this from a purely science standpoint, which is where it needs to stay. Let's not start inserting political arguments into the discussion. Remember the rules, religious and political discussions are off-limits on this board. Take 'em someplace else.

OT - OF!!!

M.

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I agree, Kurt. One of the things I learned studying environmental science in university (other than how much beer the human body could hold) was that there can be valid arguments and papers put forth both supporting and countering most any topic. Concerning radon (as with global warming) all we know for sure is that we need to learn more before we can make a definitive claim.

-Brad

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Caoimhin -

Truly not a challenge, nor a test, nor an attack...

At a con ed class last year, somebody taught us all there is to know about radon, in about 90 minutes. The session mostly focused on how this guy's cousin Darell will install a mitigation system in your house to protect us from this awful hidden evil.

At one point he mentioned a study in the mid-90's regarding housewives who spent a great deal of time in their homes over a period of at least 20 years. Does this study ring a bell? I did not find it discussed on your site. Did I just miss it? Are you willing to address the validity, or existence, of this study?

Again, I stress, this is not a challenge. I seek not a fight, but knowledge. Thanks.

Jesse

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Guys,

Radon is a radioactive gas, and as such is clearly something humans ought to control their exposure to.

All Caoimhín is saying is that no one has been able to draw a straight line from Radon exposure in the home to cancer victims. It would be a very difficult study to do, wouldn't it?

How do you prove that a 60 year old nonsmoker diagnosed with lung cancer (for example)developed that cancer from Radon in one of the homes he lived in, or someplace he worked, or the gym he went to, or his local coffee shop?

And even if you managed to work that kind of study out, how large a sample would you need to make it significant?

And how many of those studies would have to confirm your findings before it was taken seriously?

And is all that time and effort worthwhile based on the number of lives ultimately effected?

Until that work is done, you can't say Radon in homes causes lung cancer. I think you can say, it's a radioactive gas that you ought to reduce your exposure to if you can. That's all we really need to do anyway, no?

Nice work Caoimhín. Slainte va!

Jimmy

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When they write the history of the world, and tally up all the things on this earth that are hazardous to health, there will be more things than can be counted.

Having worked for the gov't., I have a healthy disrespect for dept. budgets & careers that depend on pushing questionable science to stay afloat.

That's all......

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Good morning, Gents –

Some good comments questions and criticisms.

I didn’t realize that Scott Patterson had posted his comments and question here, so here were my ealier responses to his questions and comments:

Scott Peterson:

Question:

I guess my question would be as to why the governments in every country that have radon issues state that Radon causes health problems.

Response:

Scott, governments are run off politics, not objective facts. Politics is a mixture of fear, economics, facts, concerns, perceptions and desires for power. Only one of those factors, “factsâ€

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I'm with you on the global warming issue, and it has little with me not caring much for Al's movie or him.

I guess I'm on the sideline as to the facts about radon. But in my market area, it is a "Hot" button on homes being sold, and these are homes up in to the multi-millions. We even have one city that requires new homes to have mitigation systems built in. From a liability issue, I feel that I must offer radon testing. On my contract I even have a place for my clients to initial that they do or do not want a radon test.

I guess as with most things the home inspector is put in the middle and tends to be the scape goat.

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Originally posted by Caoimhín P. Connell

Good morning, Gents –

tell the US public that if their house contains 17piC/L they probably should think about maybe doing something about it in the next several years

This is correct. For those who were not around or not doing radon in the early years of radon testing the response to low radon levels was that you had at least two years to monitor, retest, do a long term test etc, before making a decision to do anything. This included readings up to 20piC/L. Smart thinking. But the realtors wanted none of that as it screwed up the deal. Buyers wanted mitigation sellers said they had up to two years to do anything. I am not sure of the dates but a group from the employee relocation council may have had an impact on the 4piC/L as being the action level. This happened around the same time the ERC form was being developed. This low level made it much easier to sell a house. Definately a political decision, bolstered by the weight of the real estate lobby. (the specifics may be slightly off but the gist of the above should be fairly accurate.)

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Caoimhin,

It is refreshing to read scientific literature regarding science.

Unfortunately, science is a weak subject for most Americans. Our society is so 'soundbite' (emotionally) oriented, that a deep logical understanding of almost anything seems nearly unnatural ('cept Britney, of course).

Our children's role models, if Presidents are still role models, think Rn is nucular.

Thanks for the read. (BTW, I didn't think it was so hard to read until I got to Mr. Greene - that was ugly)

AND DO YOU WANT SCIENCE??? id="maroon">Check this out... (Then look up evolution)

http://www.conservapedia.com/Main_Page

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John,

That was the perfect article for this thread. It shows the political side, the economic side, and nothing from the scientific side. That's why Caoimhin's points are important.

Radon is real. Alpha, beta and gamma radiation are real. The danger is real. But the science is not there yet to intelligently conclude action levelsid="blue">. Until the science is there, all we can have is emotional debate.

"Well, we know it's bad, so I want it all gone!"

"Oh, come on, that much won't hurt anyone."

"Oh, yeah???"

"Yeah."

Originally posted by JohnC

Slightly off topic but the Portland,Maine newspaper had a big story about Radon today that has a lot of realtor's up in arms[:-slaphap Here is the link if anyone is interested.

http://pressherald.mainetoday.com/busin ... radon.html

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So true. And, there are the never discussed working levels, i.e., how much am I exposed to for how long? If there's radon in the bsmt., and no one is there to breath it, does it really matter?

When I've talked to radiologists and toxicologists about action levels, they've indicated it's meaningless. Toxic thresholds are what counts, or so I've been told, and no one's figured that out yet.

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Caoimhin,

I may be the only one that does not know how to pronounce your first name! Phonetically I have been saying "Kay-im-hin'" Is that correct?

Like John G and Kurt, I recall the late 80's when overnight Radon became fashionable and we had no valid way to screen. Tiny bottles, plastic bags, paper bags with charcoal, metal canisters, sponges, electric, electronic, gidgets and gadgets and none were worth crap. I got in the business and got out after a couple years because it was all smoke and mirrors in my opinion.

In 2000 I bought several Sun Nuc devices and got back in. Now we do several hundred per year and I think we do as good if not better than most with the process. We inspect 50 or so systems per year and nearly 100% are flawed.

I understand and agree with Mike O's policy re politics, but in this instance politics are the issue and the discussion can't take place without discussing them.

Thanks to everyone who posted - I learned things!

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Originally posted by Les

Caoimhin,

I understand and agree with Mike O's policy re politics, but in this instance politics are the issue and the discussion can't take place without discussing them.

Thanks to everyone who posted - I learned things!

I think the reference to politics is more like "republicans make more radon gas than democrats". Or, "wimmin makes more gas than mens". That kind of politics.

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Yeah,

Sort of. I don't have a problem with saying that politics influences how a government agency reports something, or doesn't report something, I just don't want to see folks on here talking about crap like the attorney general firings, WMD, Iraq right or wrong, liberals vs. conservatives, impeachment, etc., etc.. that sort of thing.

Because I'm retired military, people are always sending me all sorts of political stories. I guess under the assumption that, because I'm former military, I must be a dyed in the wool conservative and will post that stuff to TIJ. Hell, I'm a registered Democrat and during the Vietnam war I was a war protester, albeit one that protested in favor of the war. I don't like to post that kind of stuff, even when I sympathize with whatever it is they send me.

Yeah, I confess that I have, on one or two occasions posted something that was probably over-the-top patriotic that dealt with my love of our citizen soldiers, but that's probably about all. Even then, I recall I felt a little guilty about doing it, 'cuz I was breaking my own rules.

The bottom line is, once folks start talking religion or politics, I can guaranty you that there's gonna be at least one person who's feelings get bruised and the next thing you know there's some enmity a'brewin. We're all friends here and I'd like to keep it that way by keeping TIJ free of that kind of thing. That's all I'm saying.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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