A View of the New Radon Report

It will be interesting to see how the BEIR Committee was able to control for airborne exposures to uranium, exhaust fumes with known carcinogens, and considerable external gamma ray exposures BEIR VI when they were unable to do so in BEIR IV.

It will also be worth watching to see what EPA does with the new report, since their current limit was (according to them) based on "what was then technologically feasible" and not necessarily related to a particular health consequence. And since they're still projecting cancer deaths based on the collection of minuscule individual doses over large populations -- a morally and scientifically bankrupt approach -- I would expect to see more of the same.

While the Russians and Europeans look to radon for healthful effects (sometime using therapeutic concentrations of 100,000+ pCi/l), our fear-inducing radon industry is making big bucks by scaring the whits out of people.

It was interesting to find in last weekend's US Today -- just a few paragraphs below the projected annual radon death toll -- the toll free number to find your $20 home measurement kit. Cha Ching!

A call to my local inspection service found that the charge is 125 dollars for a 48 hour measurement at 18 inches above the floor. Hmmm. Let's see... radon is the heaviest gas known... Do you think we'll see anything? I was told that "the EPA says that anything above 4 [pCi/l] is unacceptable." Oh yeah, remediation costs start at about 2000 dollars.

So you've got a petrified neighbor, worried about his 15 pCi/l radon measurement. What do you tell him?

1. If you want to, open your windows every now and then, it'll probably help your allergies by removing some of the pollens and molds that build up in your house.

2. Eat a well-balanced diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables.

3. Exercise on a regular basis.

4. Buckle your seat belt.

5. Try to relax every now and then.

6. If you do 1 through 5, radon is the least of your worries.

Michael Ford
Texas Radiation Advisory Board
Amarillo, Texas

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