Missouri Maps and Reports Radon Testing in Public Schools

The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services provides radon information for the public, including data on radon testing in public schools. Most of the state’s counties are in Zone 2, the USEPA classification, where predicted average indoor radon screening levels would be from 2 to 4 pCi/L. Eleven counties are in Zone 1, where predicted average indoor radon screening levels greater than 4 pCi/L, the recommended USEPA action level.

Interactive mapping of radon testing in public schools allows filtering by county and school name in order to zoom to results or statewide data can be viewed of all counties and districts. Selections include public schools and districts tested. Map background may be chosen.https://ogi.oa.mo.gov/DHSS/EPHT_radonSchool/index.html

Tabular data breaks out data per the school year (August through May). The data are available from the department’s Bureau of Environmental Epidemiology, Indoor Air Quality Database.

For the school year 2013-2014, elevated levels of radon were reported in 13.79% of the 145 structures tested. The number of school districts tested was 28, with 107 schools being tested. Classrooms tested equaled 3050 and of those 82 had elevated results. The estimated number of people potentially exposed, which includes students, teachers and others, was 114,402. During the school year 2014-2015 the number of potentially exposed dropped to 91,962.

For more information about radon in Missouri, contact:
Bureau of Environmental Epidemiology
Telephone: 573-751-6102 or (toll-free) 866-628-9891
Email: info@health.mo.gov

Article Source: http://www.radonleaders.org/node/21693

Radon Testing Made Easy During National Radon Month

Importance of Radon Awareness

Washington, DC – Exposure to radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer after smoking. Radon is an odorless, tasteless and invisible gas produced by the decay of naturally occurring uranium in soil and water. Radon is a form of ionizing radiation and a proven carcinogen.

Cancer is scary and is often related to either smoking or Radon.  During the month of January, EPA and health officials want you to make sure your home is free of radon, which is one of the leading causes of certain cancers. As a result of this the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has designated January as National Radon Action Month. EPA estimates that about 20,000 lung cancer deaths each year in the U.S. are radon-related.

The Environmental Protection Agency rates Radon as the number one cause of lung cancer among non-smokers and number two cause of lung cancer next to smoking. Because of this there are 21,000 deaths a year due to radon exposure.

Radon in air is ubiquitous. Radon is found in outdoor air and in the indoor air of buildings of all kinds. EPA recommends homes be fixed if the radon level is 4 pCi/L (picocuries per liter) or more. Because there is no known safe level of exposure to radon, EPA also recommends that Americans consider fixing their home for radon levels between 2 pCi/L and 4 pCi/L. The average radon concentration in the indoor air of America’s homes is about 1.3 pCi/L. It is upon this level that EPA based its estimate of 20,000 radon-related lung cancers a year upon. It is for this simple reason that EPA recommends that Americans consider fixing their homes when the radon level is between 2 pCi/L and 4 pCi/L. The average concentration of radon in outdoor air is .4 pCi/L or 1/10th of EPA’s 4 pCi/L action level.

The radon health risk is underscored by the fact that in 1988 Congress added Title III on Indoor Radon Abatement to the Toxic Substances Control Act. It codified and funded EPA’s then fledgling radon program. Also that year, the Office of

EDLab - Environmental Diagnostics Laboratory
EDLab – Environmental Diagnostics Laboratory

the U.S. Surgeon General issued a warning about radon urging Americans to test their homes and to reduce the radon level when necessary (U.S. Surgeon General).

Unfortunately, many Americans presume that because the action level is 4 pCi/L, a radon level of less than 4 pCi/L is “safe”. This perception is altogether too common in the residential real estate market. In managing any risk, we should be concerned with the greatest risk. For most Americans, their greatest exposure to radon is in their homes; especially in rooms that are below grade (e.g., basements), rooms that are in contact with the ground and those rooms immediately above them.

A quick and inexpensive way to test for Radon in your home or office is with the DIY Radon Screen Check from Building Health Check, LLC at Grainger, Sears, IndoorAirTest.com and many other fine retailers.  Building Health Check, LLC manufactures of the popular do-it-yourself (DIY) IAQ Screen product line at their headquarters in Clearwater, FL.

For more information on the IAQ Screen Test product line, please visit www.indoorairtest.com or contact JoAnn Phifer at 1-800-422-7873 ext 404.

About Pure Air Control Services
Pure Air Control Services, Inc. was established in 1984 as a small, mechanical, contracting firm and has since set the industry standard for indoor environmental quality diagnosis, environmental laboratory and remediation. Pure Air Control Services has serviced more than 600 million square feet of indoor environments in over 10,000 facilities.

Pure Air’s nationally performed services include: Building Sciences Evaluation; Building Health Check; a CDC ELITE Environmental Microbiology Laboratory; Environmental Project Management; HVAC New Life Restoration and PURE-Steam Coil Cleaning/Mold Remediation Services, among other indoor environmental services.

 Article Source: http://pureaircontrols.com/radon-testing-made-easy-national-radon-month/

Galax clinic to reopen after elevated radon levels detected

The Galax clinic closed because of elevated radon levels will reopen.
See full statement from Carilion here:

The Carilion Clinic Galax Family and Internal Medicine practices will resume regular operations Monday, Oct. 2. The Galax Family Practice walk-in acute care clinic and the Vaughn-Bassett Employee Health Clinic will open on Saturday, Sept. 30, for regular hours and operations.

Patients needing to confirm an appointment can call the Galax practice. Internal Medicine can be reached at (276) 236-6136; the Family Medicine practice can be reached at (276) 236-5181.

After consulting with Carilion’s Employee Health Department, safety experts and an independent environmental consultant, we are confident that the building is safe for our employees and patients.

Since Friday, Sept. 22, Carilion Clinic has been working to address the higher than normal radon levels found in the leased facility in Galax (199 Hospital Drive). Out of an abundance of caution, the practice was temporarily closed.

Earlier this week, an environmental consultant retested the building’s air to confirm that radon levels are at an acceptable level per the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) guidelines (below 4 picocuries per liter (pCi/L)). On Wednesday afternoon, we learned that the levels are now below the EPA guideline, at 2.2 pCi/L in the downstairs of the facility and 1.0 pCi/L upstairs.

During the closure, we also took the opportunity to test for mold and asbestos as well. Test results, which were received this afternoon, showed no concerning levels of mold or asbestos in the building.

Given the challenges with air quality in the Galax facility over the past year, we have established quarterly air quality testing.

Thank you to the community for your patience and understanding as we resolved this issue.

ORIGINAL STORY

A medical clinic in Galax is temporarily closed after concerns of air quality inside the building.

A sign on the door tells patients the location is temporarily closed. Carilion made the decision after a staff member here shared concerns of a potential health hazard.

“It’s frustrating for both the employees, it’s frustrating for the patients, it’s frustrating for Carilion in general,” said Chris Turnbull, the public relations manager for Carilion Clinics.

A test conducted a week and a half ago shows an average radon level of 4.3 picocuries a liter. The accepted level by the Environment Protection Agency is four.

“Our concern is really making sure that our staff are in a healthy place to work so we’re going to take the measures that need to be taken to make sure that this place is safe,” Turnbull said.

That could take some time. Environmental professionals are helping the clinic find where the gas is coming into the building. After that’s corrected more tests have to be conducted.

For now, all staff are working out of another Carilion Clinic in Hillsville, about 25 minutes away.

“We’ve expanded some hours. I know the physicians were concerned. We didn’t want to limit the hours that our patients could get there,” Turnbull said.

 The Hillsville locations number and address is on the door referring all patients there. 276-728-7721, or visit 410 South Main Street in Hillsville.

This is the second time this building has been temporarily closed within the last year. In December a mold issue in some rooms temporarily closed the building for a few days.

Carilion tells us it plans to reopen the clinic as soon as possible, but no date has been set.

Smoke From Wildfires May Be Surprisingly Deadly, Scientists Report

 

The hills above Santa Barbara, Calif., are shrouded in smoke Dec. 12 from the Thomas Fire. (Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images)

As firefighters continue to battle California’s devastating Thomas Fire — now the fourth-largest in state history — a group of scientists presented new results suggesting that air pollution from such massive blazes may be one of their deadliest consequences.

Speaking at the annual American Geophysical Union meeting in New Orleans, the researchers, from Colorado State University and the University of Houston, suggested Thursday that wildfires may be responsible for thousands of U.S. deaths annually due to the tiny pollution particles they put into the atmosphere. Moreover, just as fires are expected to worsen under climate warming, so might these health impacts.

“If this is the new norm for California … and people in California are being exposed to these smoke events regularly, then we would expect this to have an impact on the average lifetime of people in California,” said Jeffrey Pierce, a professor of atmospheric science at Colorado State University who presented his preliminary results at the meeting and a news conference afterward.

Just like smokestacks and tailpipes, wildfires fill the air with the byproducts of combustion, including very dangerous small particles known as PM2.5, which can get into the lungs and bloodstream. A growing body of research has demonstrated that these particles degrade health and contribute to thousands of deaths each year in the United States alone by causing respiratory, cardiovascular and other health problems.

So just how deadly is the smoke from wildfires? While the numbers presented this week are definitely preliminary, they suggest the cost could be severe indeed.

Pierce presented the highest numbers at the meeting. He estimates that between 5,000 and 25,000 people in the United States may die each year at present from PM2.5 that specifically comes from the smoke of wildfires burning in the United States and other nearby countries (such as Canada). But the number of wildfire-linked deaths could triple by the end of the century for high levels of global warming, he has found, based on one climate modeling scenario (which, Pierce emphasizes, is only a preliminary finding and should be replicated by other scientific groups).

That would lead to a situation in which, as other sources of air pollution decline, wildfires become an increasingly dominant overall source of PM2.5.

“Coal plants have gotten cleaner, wildfires have slightly increased over the past decades, so, wildfires are on the verge of becoming, if they haven’t become, the largest source of particulate matter in the U.S.,” said Pierce in an interview.

Pierce’s results, not yet published formally, are similar to those of Ebrahim Eslami, a PhD student at the University of Houston who also presented at the meeting on wildfire-related air pollution deaths. He has found that wildfires and other burning of biomass, such as in the agricultural sector, contribute to around 5,000 deaths per year. That equates to annual economic damages between $40 and $50 billion for the period between 2011 and 2014.

“Billions of dollars, or tens of billions of dollars, that’s the magnitude of the cost caused by wildfires due to health impact incidence,” Eslami said.

The studies include not only the effects of raging wildfires, but also controlled burns, in which forest managers deliberately light fires to burn away some of the fuel and reduce the danger of more dangerous outbreaks later. The health effects are of course not evenly distributed — they are the worst in areas closest to large wildfires, such as California, the Pacific Northwest and U.S. southeast.

While Pierce’s and Eslami’s results are not yet formally published, they don’t sound so different from a just published result from a group of scientists with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and several Australian institutions. These researchers found that “short term” premature deaths tied to wildfire air pollution in the United States from 2008 through 2012 numbered between 1,500 and 2,500 each year. They calculated that the economic toll, meanwhile, was tens of billions each year.

And these were only short-term effects — over the longer term, the researchers calculated even more severe numbers.

Other recently published work has found that the air pollution contributed by wildfires has been greatly underestimated and that in the western United States during wildfire seasons between 2004 and 2009, fires contributed 12 percent of the total PM2.5 concentrations in the atmosphere, and far more than that on days with particularly poor air quality. The research projected that this situation would get considerably worse due to climate change.

Many health outcomes less severe than death are also triggered by wildfire smoke, particularly in the immediate vicinity of fires, such as asthma attacks and hospital trips for a variety of conditions.

“For a severe smoke event, asthma inhaler refill rates could double across large populations,” said Katelyn O’Dell, a researcher at Colorado State who is working with Pierce studying the health effects of wildfires, in a statement.

Granted, all of these findings should be taken cautiously, because this research is fairly novel. Moreover, researchers acknowledge that wildfire smoke differs in complex ways from other types of air pollution — and indeed, depends on where wildfires occur, and what they consume.

“What burns matters,” said Manvendra Dubey, a researcher at Los Alamos National Laboratory, who is also working on the problem of wildfire smoke and its consequences. Dubey underscored the complex chemistry of the smoke that emanates from different types of fires at the New Orleans meeting.

So there is much more to learn about the dangers of wildfire smoke — but based on the little we know so far, it sounds like a serious threat, and one that could grow even worse in the future.

Article Source: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2017/12/15/smoke-from-wildfires-may-be-surprisingly-deadly-scientists-report/?utm_term=.2c4dd9900273

Air Quality Visibly Bad From Brush Fires Burning In Ventura, Sylmar

VENTURA (CBSLA) — With two large brush fires burning in Los Angeles and Ventura counties, air quality was visibly bad Tuesday, even with strong winds blowing much of the smoke out onto the ocean.

Our radar picking up smoke from the – poor air quality… blaze has now burned 45,000 acres with zero containment

A large bank of smoke from the Thomas Fire was visible from SKY2 over Ventura, Santa Paula and Ojai. The strong winds that are pushing flames west are similarly scattering plumes of gray smoke out over the region.

Further inland, the Creek Fire burning over Sylmar is giving an apocalyptic hue to the morning commute along the 5 Freeway.

 

Horrible air quality in the valley this morning due to the as viewed from Mulholland Drive. Most of the valley can’t be seen from up here.

Further inland, the Creek Fire burning over Sylmar is giving an apocalyptic hue to the morning commute along the 5 Freeway.

SMOKE ADVISORY: the near and is affecting our air quality:

A smoke advisory issued by the South Coast Air Quality Management District says that wind-blown smoke is making the air most hazardous in the San Fernando Valley and Malibu areas. The agency says everyone in these areas should avoid vigorous outdoor or indoor exercise, and people with respiratory or heart disease, pregnant women, seniors, and children were urged to remain indoors.

More than 50 miles away, officials from the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District said that even though classes are in session, students are being kept indoors due to smoky conditions.

“School is in session; however, we will be running on an indoor schedule today, including for physical education, lunch and recess,” a statement from Superintendent Ben Drati posted on the district’s website said.

The Thomas Fire also forced the Getty Center to close to the public “to protect collections from smoke from fires in the region,” according to Getty officials. The Villa in Pacific Palisades is also closed, per its usual Tuesday schedule.

Southern California is enduring its second day of destructive Santa Ana winds that are being blamed for whipping up flames from both brush fires and sending embers beyond fire lines to start new fires.

Red Flag warnings, signifying the risk of wildfires, remain in effect across most of Los Angeles County and down south into Orange County. Tuesday’s warnings are scheduled to expire at 6 p.m., but forecasters say Santa Ana winds could persist into Friday or Saturday.

The gusty winds also have the potential to bring down trees and power lines, and already brought down several big rig trucks along the 210 Freeway in Fontana.

Article Source: http://losangeles.cbslocal.com/2017/12/05/air-quality-ventura-sylmar-brush-fires/

 

EPA Proposes Rule to Boost HC Charge Limit for Household Fridges

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proposing to increase the charge limit for propane, isobutane and R441A to 150 g from 57 g in new household refrigerators and freezers under the Significant New Alternatives Policy (SNAP) program, a move that would open the U.S. domestic market to hydrocarbon-based refrigeration appliances.

The EPA’s new use condition for flammable (A3) refrigerants is linked to UL 60335-2-24, Edition, which was revised in late April of this year to increase the hydrocarbon charge allowed in U.S. domestic refrigerators to 150 g from 57 g, the amount allowed under the previous standard, UL 250. The previous 57 g limit was widely seen as an impediment to the adoption of energy-efficient hydrocarbon refrigeration in the U.S. domestic market. Elsewhere in the world, where 150 g has long been the charge limit for domestic refrigerators, hydrocarbon units have gained substantial market share.

The Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) and the North American Sustainable Refrigeration Council (NASRC) submitted a petition in September asking that the EPA take this step.

“The U.S. market has lagged behind the rest of the world for many years in adopting climate-friendly fridges, due to an outdated restrictive standard that had prevented hydrocarbon refrigerators used globally from entering the market,” said Avipsa Mahapatra, Climate Campaign Lead for the Washington, D.C.-based EIA. “This rule will allow innovative American appliance manufacturers to catch up with the rest of the world.”

Each year U.S. consumers purchase about 12 million new household refrigerators and freezers. Replacing the HFC commonly used as refrigerant (R134a) in this sector with hydrocarbons could avoid emissions of up to 3.7 million metric tons of direct COequivalent annually, according to EIA. Hydrocarbon fridges are also found to be more efficient than HFC units, the NGO noted.

In a report called “Bringing the U.S. Fridge Market into the 21st Century,” EIA pointed out that multinational companies like AB Electrolux of Sweden, Samsung Electronics and Haier selling domestic refrigerators with R134a in the U.S. are already producing and selling models using hydrocarbons in other markets.

Efforts are also underway globally and in the U.S. to increase the allowable hydrocarbon charge in commercial refrigerators above 150 g. The IEC is considering raising the limit for flammable A3 refrigerants to 500 g.

The EPA said it’s submitting the rule change – titled “Protection of the Stratospheric Ozone: Revision to References for Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Sector to Incorporate Latest Edition of Certain Industry, Consensus-based Standards” – for publication in the Federal Register. The change is considered “a direct final rule,” barring “adverse comment” received within 45 days from the date of publication in the Federal Register. Comments (identified by Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OAR-2017-0472) can be submitted to the Federal eRulemaking Portal, https://www.regulations.gov.

The EPA “is taking this action as a direct final rule without prior proposal because EPA views this as a noncontroversial revision and anticipates no adverse comments,” the agency said. “The action does not place any significant burden on the regulated community and ensures consistency with industry standards.”

If the EPA receives adverse comment, it will withdraw this direct final rule and address all public comments in any subsequent final rule.

Article Source: http://hydrocarbons21.com/articles/7980/epa_proposes_rule_to_boost_hc_charge_limit_for_household_fridges