Assessment and Mitigation of Indoor Radon Problem: A Case Book for Radon Professionals


by

Ashok Kumar, Akhil Kadiyala

DOI: 10.2174/97816080598741140101
eISBN: 978-1-60805-987-4, 2014
ISBN: 978-1-60805-990-4



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Radon is a highly radioactive gas and a waste product of nuclear reactors. Radon is also carcinogenic for this reason and can be linked to the...[view complete introduction]

Table of Contents

Foreword

- Pp. i-ii (2)

Stephanie L. Foster

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Preface

- Pp. iii-v (2)

Ashok Kumar and Akhil Kadiyala

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The Nature of Radon Problem

- Pp. 3-24 (22)

Ashok Kumar and Akhil Kadiyala

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Radon Problem in the State of Ohio, USA

- Pp. 25-85 (61)

Ashok Kumar and Akhil Kadiyala

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Radon Statistics & Maps for Zip Code Areas in Counties of Ohio

- Pp. 87-275 (189)

Ashok Kumar and Akhil Kadiyala

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Radon Mitigation in the State of Ohio, USA

- Pp. 277-361 (85)

Ashok Kumar and Akhil Kadiyala

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Conclusions

- Pp. 363-365 (3)

Ashok Kumar and Akhil Kadiyala

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References

- Pp. 367-371 (5)

Ashok Kumar and Akhil Kadiyala

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Author Index

- Pp. 373-375 (3)

Ashok Kumar and Akhil Kadiyala

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Subject Index

- Pp. 377-379 (3)

Ashok Kumar and Akhil Kadiyala

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Foreword

Do you live or work in a county with indoor radon levels potentially equal to or above the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) action level? Do your children go to school or play in areas where radon is a potential problem? Do you know the EPA has a suggested action level for indoor radon (4 pCi/L)? Do you know that EPA and the Surgeon General’s office estimate radon is responsible for approximately 21,000 lung cancer deaths each year in the United States?

Not until recently did I become aware of the potential health risks associated with exposure to indoor radon. This awareness occurred after living in metropolitan Atlanta, an area where EPA predicts a high potential for indoor radon, for more than seventeen years. More surprising is during this time I completed my Master of Public Health degree in epidemiology and began my career as an epidemiologist with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Not once did I read, hear, or see an announcement warning me of this potential risk.

When I learned of indoor radon, I began to explore the available epidemiologic literature to understand the adverse health effects associated with such exposure. Similarly, I immersed myself in literature describing the environmental and geological factors influencing potential exposure to radon. This background research led me to initiate a special study, currently underway, to understand our children’s potential risk from radon exposure at school. As a part of this process, I became aware of Dr. Kumar’s work.

Dr. Kumar’s extensive work on the comprehensive homes database maintained by The University of Toledo provides a unique opportunity to learn about the risk associated with residential radon in Ohio. Dr. Kumar, along with his colleagues and students are conducting trailblazing research. This work enhances our understanding of radon in Ohio and is invaluable to our understanding of indoor radon risk across the nation. This work forms the backbone of my radon in schools project.

Assessment and Mitigation of Indoor Radon Problem: A Case Book for Radon Professionals provides the first comprehensive discussion of indoor radon exposure and mitigation systems. The authors do an excellent job describing radon in the environment and explaining how radon becomes a residential problem. Ohio is currently the only state in the country to have this detailed description of radon exposure by county and zip code. Additionally, the evaluation of mitigation systems in Chapter 4 presents compelling evidence in support of specific radon mitigation systems.

According to the EPA’s map of radon zones, 34% of all US counties have the potential for indoor radon levels greater than or equal to the action level. The EPA notes that homes with elevated levels of radon have been found in all three zones. The EPA further states that all homes should be tested regardless of geographic location. The work I am currently undertaking and the work of other radon researchers highlight indoor radon issues in buildings located in counties designated as low risk. The widespread occurrence of radon coupled with the World Health Organization’s 2009 announcement to reduce the action level for indoor radon to 2.7pCi/L behooves us to increase awareness and promote action to reduce risk. Assessment and Mitigation of Indoor Radon Problem: A Case Book for Radon Professionals should inspire continued research in all radon risk zones with the goal of defining indoor radon potential at the zip code level, or by other levels of greater geographic detail, for all states. This will lead the way to developing active surveillance programs for radon detection in private and public buildings as a standard public health practice in our country and globally.

We can do more to ensure greater awareness of the potential risk of radon in our homes and schools. This book will motivate action toward this goal.

Stephanie L. Foster
Lead Spatial Epidemiologist
Geospatial Research, Analysis, and Services Program
Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry-
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Atlanta, USA

Preface

The study of radon in homes is of utmost importance considering that radon has long been identified as the second major cause of lung cancer incidences after cigarette smoking in conjunction with the fact that people spend nearly 90% of their time indoors. Prior studies on radon have primarily focused on examining the different factors that influence the radon entry rates into a home. Considerable number of studies also modeled the radon entry rates into homes. However, a significant knowledge gap of the lack of a comprehensive study that focused in detail on the aspects of statistical metrics and radon distribution maps for a large area (such as an entire state) that are essential components of a comprehensive assessment of in-home radon problem coupled with the determination of performance of various mitigation systems using statistical tests in reducing the in-home radon levels prompted the authors to compile this book. This book is based on the homes and mitigation databases of the Ohio Radon Information System (ORIS) that comprised of 219,114 data points (1988-2012) and 39,858 data points (2002-2012), respectively. The ORIS is maintained by the Air Pollution Research Group (APRG) of the Civil Engineering Department at The University of Toledo in Toledo, Ohio, USA.

This book is prepared for those who wish to gain a better understanding of the radon problem assessment and mitigation in homes. Our intent is to provide a complete review of the radon problem in homes (Chapter 1), so that the reader acquires a basic understanding of the nature of radon problem. Included in this book are different statistical metrics and Geographic Information System (GIS) maps that summarize the problem of radon in Ohio (Chapters 2-3). Details on the statistics related to performance of different mitigation systems installed in Ohio homes along with a methodology to rank the performance of different mitigation systems are also incorporated in this book (Chapter 4). A summary of the significant findings from the radon assessment coupled with the mitigation systems performance is documented in the end (Chapter 5). We are indebted to the former and current Civil Engineering graduate students of the APRG, at The University of Toledo, who were involved in this research over the last 30 years and developed the homes database that was used in this study. We appreciate the research grants awarded by the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) and the United States Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) to The University of Toledo, which made the development of a large radon homes database system possible. We thank Krothapalli Madhusha for her inputs in preparing the GIS maps in this book. We acknowledge ESRI® for providing the ArcGIS software that was used in the preparation of maps, and Microsoft® for providing the Excel spreadsheet that was used in computing the different statistical metrics, associated with radon concentration distributions in Ohio.

The book is likely to serve its intended purpose, even if one reader is able to understand the importance of examining the radon problem in home and get their homes tested and mitigated (in case of any exceedances) for radon. The views expressed in this book are those of the authors alone and do not represent the views of the organizations who, over the years, funded the collection of data.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS AND STATEMENT OF CONFLICT OF INTEREST

The authors thank the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) and the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) for awarding the research grants to The University of Toledo, which made the development of Ohio Radon Information System possible. The contributions of earlier investigators of the grants (Dr. Jim Harrell and Dr. Andrew G. Heydinger, and many graduate students who worked on this project over the years) are all greatly acknowledged. The authors also recognize the contribution of a number of staff members from the ODH. The authors thank Dr. H.R. Olesen for providing the BOOT v2.0 software, ESRI® for providing the ArcGIS software, Minitab® for providing the MINITAB 16 software, Microsoft® for providing the Excel software, and MathWorks® for providing the MATLAB 2010b software that were used in developing this book when performing statistical and geospatial analyses. The authors do not have any financial relationships with the software used in this paper. The views expressed in this book are those of the authors alone.

Ashok Kumar
Department of Civil Engineering
The University of Toledo
Toledo, OH 43606
USA
E-mail: akumar@utnet.utoledo.edu

&

Akhil Kadiyala
Department of Civil Engineering
The University of Toledo
Toledo, OH 43606
USA

List of Contributors

Author(s):
Ashok Kumar
Toledo, Ohio 43606
The University of Toledo
USA


Akhil Kadiyala
Toledo, Ohio 43606
The University of Toledo
USA




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