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2. RADON Radon is a radioactive gas formed

when naturally-occurring uranium decays in rock, soil and water. Odor- less, colorless and tasteless, radon’s a proven carcinogen. The National Research Council estimates that indoor radon exposure is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States, responsible for 15,000 to 21,000 deaths each year. Radon enters homes from the ground through cracks and holes in the foundation, then works its way through gaps in walls and floors and around service pipes. The greatest exposure to this gas occurs in rooms that are below grade and in contact with the ground, but even second-story rooms can have elevated levels of this toxin.

Prevention and Remediation New structures can be built to resist radon infiltration.

• Build a sub-slab that creates a vacuum beneath the structure to hold soil gases, which are then piped outside.

• Use mechanical barriers to stop the gas from entering the building.

• Install an air exchange system that constantly replaces indoor air with fresh outdoor air.

Existing structures have a 1 in 15 chance of having elevated levels of radon, according to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates. A simple home test can reveal whether or not a building suffers from this prob- lem. Discount testing kits are avail- able from the National Safety Council online at Radon levels that exceed 4 pCi/L (picocuries per liter) are considered hazardous and call for remediation by a professional. The National Environ- mental Health Association maintains a directory of qualified radon profession- als at 3. MOLD

Molds, part of the fungus fam-

ily, thrive in wet environments. They reproduce via tiny spores that become loose and float around in the air. Both mold-allergic and non-allergic people can experience hay fever-like symp- toms when inhaling mold or mold spores. In some cases, molds produce potentially toxic substances called


“Wherever you have moisture, eliminate it immediately,” cautions Fellman. “Otherwise, there’s a real possibility of having a mold issue de- velop within 72 hours.”

Prevention & Remediation It helps to be diligent about finding and eliminating moisture problems. • Wipe water off surfaces within 24 to 48 hours.

• Run bathroom exhaust fans, vented to the outside, during and follow- ing a shower, or open a window to help remove moisture quickly and completely.

• Fix leaky roofs and plumbing. Wa- ter from such leaks is often trapped

natural awakenings

January 2014


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