Categories
Blog

When are radon levels highest?

If you are asking when radon levels are highest, you likely know enough about radon gas to understand that it is not something you want in your home  at any time of year. Conducting a radon test is the first step in understanding your risk of radon exposure. Our advice? If you have never tested your home, go ahead and test, regardless of what time of year. Radon levels are almost always going to be higher in the colder winter months, so we also recommend conducting follow-up testing during the winter season to get a full picture of radon in your home year-round.

Why should you test for radon?

Radon is a known human carcinogen, the leading cause of lung cancer among non-smokers. This naturally occurring, radioactive, gas is created from the breakdown of uranium underground and seeps into buildings from small cracks in the foundation or plumbing. Testing for radon is the only way to know your risk of exposure.

How-Radon-Enters-You-Home

Radioactive radon particles are harmful to your lungs when breathed. Its radioactive properties can damage or mutate lung cells, which can result in cancer. More than 21,000 people die from radon-induced lung cancer every year. Exposure to radon is preventable with proper testing and mitigation in homes and buildings.

When are radon levels the highest?

On average, radon levels are the highest in the colder months, or the heating season. Radon levels are naturally affected by the changing seasons, atmospheric pressure, and precipitation throughout the year. However, temperature fluctuations have the greatest impact on indoor radon levels due to the differences in pressure put on the home.

Why are radon levels higher in the winter?

Weather changes

Changing weather conditions can impact your indoor air quality. Various weather patterns are caused by atmospheric pressure changes. This can impact the air pressure in the soil as well, causing soil gases, including radon, to be pushed up toward the foundation of your home. These kinds of conditions could increase the possibility for radon and other soil gases to enter your home.

Snow barrier

The snow and ice also affect radon entry into buildings. When there is snow or ice surrounding the building, a barrier is created above the soil. Radon gas below the soil is then sealed under the ground below the foundation of the home. Radon, and other soil gases, will follow the path of least resistance. With a blanket of snow and ice surrounding your home, the path of least resistance is often cracks and openings in the foundation.

Thermal stack effect

A fundamental building science element is the thermal stack effect. This effect describes the movement of air inside and outside of the home due to natural laws of pressure. Cold air is more dense than warm air, meaning cold air falls and warm air rises. This law of pressure is always present, regardless of the season.

When a home or building is heated in the winter, warm indoor air naturally rises. Because warm air is less dense than cold air, it rises upward, escaping through the roof, vents, or other openings at the top of your home.

As warm air escapes, cold air is pulled in from below, much like a hot air balloon. The pressure difference creates a vacuum-like pressure sucking in the colder air from outside and from beneath the foundation.

Anything in the air below the foundation, regardless of the safety or quality of it, can be pulled into your home as a part of the process of the structure “breathing”. It is possible that hazardous soil gases are present, compromising your indoor air quality. Dangerous soil gas, including radioactive radon, can be sucked into homes and buildings at a faster rate during the colder months because of the thermal stack effect.

The thermal stack effect explains why radon levels are almost always higher in the winter. Simply put, outdoor air is being pulled into the home quicker and more frequently in the winter than in the summer. For this reason, the potential for being exposed to higher levels of radon in your home is greater in the colder winter months.

When are radon level the highest?
Sealed Homes

When temperatures are more desirable, windows are opened creating more airflow throughout the home or building. Airflow can help dilute the radon gas buildup indoors and can improve your overall indoor air quality. Within tightly sealed buildings, there are few ways for gas particles to escape. Radon gas can then become more concentrated and build up to dangerous levels indoors.

Why test for radon in the winter?

Radon levels can and will fluctuate over time and with the changing seasons. Seasonal variability, stack effect, tightly sealed homes, and snowy barriers help us understand why radon and other soil gas levels are almost always higher in the colder months.

We have seen seasonal test results increase from a range of 1.8 – 2.2 pCi/L in the summer to a range of 28.0 – 32.0 pCi/L in the winter in the same building. The EPA recommends mitigation if the radon level is 4.0 pCi/L or higher. If you have only tested your home in the summer months, you may be unaware that your breathing air contains dangerous levels of radioactive radon in the winter.

The only way to know if your radon levels have fluctuated in the winter is to test. Also, if you have never tested or have not tested in the last five years, you should request a professional radon test as soon as possible.

Want to know the average radon test result near you?

Search your zip code below for the average reported radon test result in your area.

How to reduce your risk of radon exposure all year long

If your radon levels are elevated, installing a mitigation system is the next step. You will want to make sure your mitigation system is installed by a qualified professional who is certified and/or licensed. Unfortunately, mitigations systems can be completely ineffective if installed incorrectly or designed for a lower pressure level in the home.

  1. Test for radon in different seasons or conduct a long-term test to understand how radon levels fluctuate in your home.
  2. If levels are elevated, work with a qualified professional to install a radon mitigation system in your home.
  3. Have your mitigation system serviced annually by a qualified professional to ensure your system continues to function correctly.
  4. If you have a mitigation system, test every two years to ensure that you are continuing to be protected against radon exposure.

"A properly designed and installed mitigation system is essential in preventing exposure to cancer-causing radon gas. Unfortunately, many radon contractors fail to take the seasonal pressure differential variances within the home into consideration when designing the system, leading to the homeowner being unknowingly exposed to unsafe levels of radon during certain times of the year." 

- Kyle Hoylman, CEO of Protect Environmental

Is your radon mitigation system affected during the colder months?

If you had a mitigation system installed in the warmer months, test again during the winter season to make sure your system is continuing to keep you safe with the cold weather changes. If your mitigation system was designed for a lower pressure level during the warmer months, it could be essentially ineffective and elevated radon levels could still be in your home or building.

We recommend testing every two years, even if you have a mitigation system installed, because of these seasonal fluctuations. Consider testing in the colder months or conduct a long-term radon test to get a complete picture of the radon levels in your home year-round.

Key Takeaways:

  • Radon levels can and will be affected by seasonal variability.
  • Indoor radon levels are normally at the highest in the winter or colder months because of the thermal stack effect, a snowy barrier, and tightly sealed homes.
  • Cold temperature increases the pressure within the home, meaning more air is being pulled in from the ground, which elevates the risk of radon entering the home.
  • Test your home and other buildings in the colder months to get a complete picture of radon exposure.
  • Test your home every two years to ensure your radon mitigation system continues to protect your home from radon in higher pressure conditions caused by colder temperatures.
Categories
Blog

What a Long, Strange, Trip it’s Been: 15 Years of Protect Environmental

This is our story. Where a mission to create healthy and safe indoor environments started with a team of 2 working from a Louisville, Kentucky basement. With $30,000, passion, grit, and hard work, Kyle Hoylman and Jeff Sims established Protect Environmental.

A lot has changed in the 15 years of Protect Environmental. We have grown since 2005 to a $35 million company with more than 200 employees now providing our professional radon testing and mitigation services in all 50 states and 2 U.S. territories. In honor of wrapping up our 15th year providing expert service from trusted professionals, this is our story of how we got here. And to quote The Grateful Dead in their song Truckin “What a long, strange trip it’s been.”

Where It All Began

Kyle Hoylman was working in the real estate business having started a data mining company specializing in real estate listings operating from 1991-2003(?). Hoylman had never heard of radon before a seemingly random conversation over dinner with a science professor. Intrigued, Hoylman went to work researching radon gas.

In testing his childhood home, he was shocked to find radon gas levels of 83 pCi/L on the main level. This result was way above the EPA action level of 4.0 pCi/L. Within months after this discovery, Hoylman’s father was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer as a healthy and active never-smoker. Hoylman was also diagnosed with cancer within a couple months of his father’s diagnosis.

The radon mitigation business model was always more than just a way to make money, it was a way to save lives. With the tragic loss of his father in 2009 and his own battle with cancer, the fight against radon became personal.

"I am text block. Click edit button to change this text. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Ut elit tellus, luctus nec ullamcorper mattis, pulvinar dapibus leo."

Kyle Hoylman

Jeff Sims came from a background in car sales and had years of experience in customer service, management, and business. Sims had also never heard of radon gas before he was approached by Hoylman to take on this business venture together.

The company was founded in 2005 by Jeff Sims and Kyle Hoylman where the two worked out of Sims’s basement in Louisville, Kentucky. “We were unfamiliar with the radon industry and decided to take a leap of faith to start a radon mitigation company and expand as we learned.” said Sims.

Uncharted Territory

Originally, Protect Environmental started as a home inspection company before pivoting to become one of the first companies to specialize in radon mitigation in the Louisville, Kentucky market.

The radon industry in 2005 was still new and widely unknown. Therefore, there was not a lot of research or information out there to guide them. Sims and Hoylman decided to roll up their sleeves and try their hand in this open and evolving industry, to be key players in shaping it from Kentucky and beyond.

Breaking Ground

The first job Protect Environmental completed in 2005 took place at a residential home in Louisville, Kentucky. In those early years, Kyle and Jeff completed the installations themselves, and continued to do so until the first crew was hired.

The team of two eventually grew to add Sims’s sister and Hoylman’s partner, Jennifer Sims,  as the receptionist and office manager. Today, Jennifer leads the company’s consulting department as the Director of Consulting. The original mitigation team was a three-man crew. Two of the three crew members, Doug Webster and Greg Turner, are still with the company today.

"Protect Environmental is truly a family and it is overwhelming to think how much we have grown as a team and learned about this industry over the years.”

- Doug Webster, Residential Project Manager 

After working in Sims’ basement for about 6 months, the team moved to their first office located on Shepherdsville Road – a family-owned property that Hoylman and Sims were allowed to use until they got on their feet.

The company remained at this office for about 8 years until they relocated to their current headquarters on Bluegrass Parkway in Louisville, Kentucky. Business was booming after just three years of building the company name and spreading awareness in the Louisville and Lexington, Kentucky markets. The crew grew from three men to about 15 in just a few short years.

Our Family Values

From the beginning, Jeff and Kyle have established strong core values that have carried Protect Environmental to success over the years. It has grown into a strong and successful company, made up of great, hard-working people. To be a part of Team Green is to be a part of a family. Despite any ups and downs along the way, the team at Protect Environmental has persevered together toward the mission to create healthy, safe, and sustainable indoor environments in Kentucky and beyond.

Our core values of Expert, Professional, Trustworthy, Healthy Sense of Urgency, Customer Focused, and Flexible are what push us as a team to provide expert service from trusted professionals for our clients’ peace of mind protection every day.

Expert

We are the experts in radon and chemical vapor intrusion risk and liability management. We never stop learning and asking questions to push ourselves and the industry to provide better service to stakeholders. We are focused on the future by looking proactively toward what’s next in technology, best practices, and the anticipation of consumer needs.

PROFESSIONAL

We provide peace of mind protection to our clients through a results-driven approach built with integrity at every step of the way. We are a hardworking team who delivers on quality and follows through on our commitments. After all, we are in the business of saving lives, and our work reflects the level of care that our clients deserve.

tRUSTWORTHY

We are open and transparent about our capabilities, services, and pricing because our customers deserve an honest and ethical partner. Our integrity and customer-centric values will lead our moral compass to always do what is best for our clients, even if it means that we do not provide the service.

hEALTHY SENSE OF URGENCY

For our clients’ peace of mind protection, we attentively listen to their needs and then get working to resolve their issues or concerns as quickly as possible and within reason. In each case, we aim to communicate openly with our client to set realistic expectations, while at the same time working to efficiently mitigate their risk.

CUSTOMER FOCUSED

We are qualified, certified, and the leading experts in the industry, although our professionalism goes beyond our skills or certifications. Our expertise, knowledge, professionalism, and customer-centric model are the cornerstones of maintaining our industry-leading position.

FLEXIBLE

Our expertise empowers us to be flexible and enables us to grow and adjust to the needs of our clients. We must be ready at all times to embrace a new challenge and remain adaptable to our customers’ needs. Being flexible translates to our company culture as a whole, in the way we work together to overcome challenges.

These core values are the foundation on which Protect Environmental was built and is what pushes our team toward excellence in all that we do. The familial culture established by our founders permeates the workplace in the ways we interact as a team and extends to how we serve our clients.

"Helping to build and be a part of a company like this – one that takes customer service seriously, cares enough to do things the right way, appreciates its employees, and most importantly, helps to keep people healthy and safe – is something I am very proud of.”

 - Jennifer Sims, Director of Consulting 

A Mission to Save Lives

Protect Environmental takes seriously its mission to spread awareness of and protect against the dangers of radioactive radon gas exposure in the places we live, work, and learn.

Giving back has always been a big part of the culture here at Protect Environmental. Our team actively supports and participates in events that support lung cancer advocacy, research, and fundraising for the benefit of lung cancer prevention, treatment, survivorship, and awareness efforts.

Over the years Protect Environmental has maintained a strong social presence within the environmental industry. With the Fight for Air Climb, Butterfly Benefit, as well as many other environmental outreach events, the company helps to carry out its mission to raise awareness about the dangers of radon gas exposure and save lives by creating healthy and safe indoor environments.

15 Years of Protect Environmental

15 Years of Service - Protect Environmental

Protect Environmental, over the course of 15 years, has developed into a well-known, and trusted company throughout Kentucky as well as nationally. It has by no means been easy, but all that has been accomplished over the years is more than enough to be proud of.

Protect Environmental was founded.
Protect Environmental was founded.
  • 2005
Moved to first office building.
Moved to first office building.
  • 2007
First Field Professionals were hired.
First Field Professionals were hired.
  • 2008
First box truck was purchased.
First box truck was purchased.
  • 2008
Moved to current office on Bluegrass Pkwy
Moved to current office on Bluegrass Pkwy
  • 2012
National Radon Action Day declaration in Washington DC
National Radon Action Day declaration in Washington DC
  • 2014
Re-branded itself as an environmental company
Re-branded itself as an environmental company
  • 2018
Began partnership with Vapor Products Group
Began partnership with Vapor Products Group
  • 2019
Kyle named president of AARST
Kyle named president of AARST
  • 2020
Acquisition by Rockbridge Growth Equity
Acquisition by Rockbridge Growth Equity
  • 2021
7,400 projects completed across 50 states and 3 U.S. territories
7,400 projects completed across 50 states and 3 U.S. territories
  • 2021

Looking Ahead

Today, in 2021, Protect Environmental closes out its 15th year of creating healthy, safe, and clean indoor environments by announcing its acquisition by Rockbridge Growth Equity and the accomplishment of completing projects in all 50 U.S. states and 2 U.S. territories – both of which are exciting milestones for the company. Today, Protect Environmental is established as a national leader in the radon and vapor intrusion mitigation industries with over 200 employees and 5 office locations across the United States.

15 years of Protect Environmental

As the radon and vapor intrusion industries move toward rapid growth, Protect Environmental’s recent acquisition by Rockbridge Growth Equity positions the company toward national consolidation. We are looking forward to an exciting time of national growth to see our mission to create healthy, safe, and sustainable indoor environments expand across the United States.

"I am text block. Click edit button to change this text. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Ut elit tellus, luctus nec ullamcorper mattis, pulvinar dapibus leo."

- Kyle Hoylman

As radon awareness continues to spread, the need for accessible professional radon services will become more and more prevalent.

With its recent acquisition the company has grown from around 30 employees to 200 in just a few short months. Protect Environmental’s headquarters remain in Louisville, Kentucky with multiple locations scheduled to open across the country.

Fifteen years have flown by for the once small company. Throughout all the changes, accomplishments, and milestones, it has only made the team here at Protect Environmental stronger together.

“It is amazing how far hard work and integrity will take you when you have nothing, in order to succeed and accomplish what you believe in.”

- Jeff Sims, Co-Founder and Partner  

Categories
Blog Video

Lung Cancer Awareness – Prevention, Treatment, and Survivorship

For Lung Cancer Awareness Month, our goal is to raise awareness of the leading cause of cancer deaths in the world. Understanding prevention, treatment, and survivorship are all vital to fighting the effects of lung cancer in our communities. With one voice, we can work together to raise awareness that anyone with lungs can get lung cancer.

Risk Reduction and Early Detection

The fight against lung cancer in Kentucky begins with reducing or eliminating risk factors that have the possibility to lead to a lung cancer diagnosis. In our interview with Jennifer Knight, Partnership and Sustainability Specialist at the Kentucky Cancer Consortium, we learn about the importance of lung cancer risk reduction as it can be the difference between life or death.

  • Kentucky is now second in number of lung cancer screening in the U.S. As of 2021, the state has seen an increase in lung cancer early detection.
  • Screening is important to decrease late-stage lung cancer diagnoses and increase survival rates.
  • The lung cancer stigma prevents many people from having effective conversations with health care providers and receiving the necessary screenings.
  • Shared decision-making conversations with a physician help foster necessary discussions about the risk factors of lung cancer, including radon gas and secondhand smoke.
  • Policy work surrounding lung cancer is increasing to improve lung cancer survival statistics, but there is more work to be done.
  • There is continuing research on who is eligible for lung cancer screenings.

During a shared decision-making conversation with the physician is a perfect time to talk about radon and having your home tested. And the same goes for dangers of secondhand smoke… because when you combined smoking, radon gas, and secondhand smoke, the risk for lung cancer goes up astronomically.

Jennifer Knight, Partnership and Sustainability Specialist at the Kentucky Cancer Consortium

Lung Cancer Treatment

For those who are diagnosed, lung cancer research and treatment has come a long way. Ongoing research efforts will continue to improve treatment options and increase survival statistics. In talking with Dr. Tim Mullett, Specialist and Professor of Thoracic Surgery at the UK Markey Cancer Center, greater education and awareness are needed to prevent lung cancer and to detect the disease sooner. Those diagnosed in an earlier stage have more treatment options compared to those diagnosed at a later stage. Depending on your exposure risk, talk to your doctor about whether you qualify for lung cancer screening.

  • Lung cancer can easily go undetected and can show very few symptoms in the early stages.
  • There are a growing number of women diagnosed with lung cancer who have never smoked.
  • Treatment plans for lung cancer have expanded greatly over the past 10 years, with targeted therapy treatment and surgery.
  • Doctors should continue to look at the causes of lung cancer beyond smoking and continue conversations about other possible risk factors.
  • Targeted therapy is transforming how we view cancer mutations and the different causes of lung cancer, including radon gas.
  • As lung cancer research continues, there is an increase in better treatment for future lung cancer patients.

It’s important as health care professionals to all work to break down that stigma, that it’s only tobacco, and get to where lung cancer is a discussion about risk and benefit. And today, because of our use of lung cancer screening and the increasing impact of targeted therapy, we need to talk about the hope of the future.

Dr. Tim Mullett, Specialist and Professor of Thoracic Surgery at the UK Cancer Center

Lung Cancer Survivorship

A lung cancer diagnosis is devastating, regardless of what led to the diagnosis, smoking history or not. Smoking is not the only cause of lung cancer. No one living with lung cancer should have to battle alone. Lindi Campbell, Lung Cancer Survivor and Founder of Breath of Hope KY, is a lung cancer survivor using her voice to advocate for better lung cancer survival rates in Kentucky through research and education. Lindi has created a community network through Facebook to connect other survivors across Kentucky who can connect and encourage one another in the fight against this disease. Learn more about Lindi’s lung cancer survivor story. 

  • There is a need to raise awareness that anyone with lungs can get lung cancer.
  • Many people still believe if you have lung cancer you deserve the diagnosis, which prevents survivors from reaching out.
  • There is a growing number of survivors being diagnosed even though they have never smoked. Radon being the leading cause in nonsmokers.
  • The mental and emotional strain of lung cancer plays a large role in a lung cancer patient’s journey and survival.
  • When diagnosed with lung cancer, it is important to have a community of support.
  • Sharing the stories of lung cancer survivors helps raise awareness of the disease and end the lung cancer stigma. 

It’s as much a psychological effect as it is a physical effect. And the first thing anybody wants to do when they are diagnosed is to ask somebody else…there are things that we [survivors] can answer that the public, and even our closest family members, can’t be for us.

Lindi Campbell, Lung Cancer Survivor and Founder of Breath of Hope Kentucky Tweet

Help Raise Awareness and Fight the Lung Cancer Stigma

  1. Help educate others that anyone with lungs can get lung cancer, not just those who smoke.
  2. Understand the risk factors that can cause lung cancer and take action to eliminate those risks in your life and the lives of your friends and family.
  3. If you feel led, financially support lung cancer initiatives to help improve treatment options and survivorship for those living with lung cancer, such as Breath of Hope Kentucky, American Lung Association, BREATHE, CanSAR, or the Kentucky LEADS Collaborative.
  4. Help us advocate! Follow advocacy organizations on social media and share facts and information to help us raise awareness and educate others about how they can reduce risks in their own lives.
Categories
Blog

What are the Leading Risk Factors for Lung Cancer?

Anyone with lungs can get lung cancer. For this reason, everyone should be aware of the potential dangers to their lung health. When most people hear of someone being diagnosed with lung cancer, they assume it was caused by a history of smoking. However, there are other causes that can affect our lung cells besides smoking and tobacco use. Knowing the leading risk factors for lung cancer will help you protect your lungs and participate with us in erasing the lung cancer stigma.

What is Lung Cancer?

Lung cancer is now the leading cause of cancer deaths amongst men and women in the world.  Also, it is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer. Every year, more than 235,000 new cases of lung cancer are diagnosed in the U.S., along with nearly 132,000 deaths.

Leading Risk Factors for Lung Cancer
Lung cancer is a disease in which abnormal lung cells continuously divide, destroying healthy tissue along the way. This abnormal cell division is also called a malignant tumor. Lung cancer can then metastasize, spreading to other parts of the body. Abnormal cell growth is often caused by harmful or radioactive substances that damage the lung when breathed, tobacco smoke being only one possible cause for lung cell damage. In fact, only 14 percent of the U.S. population smokes.

Though the percentage of people who are smoking is decreasing, lung cancer incidents and deaths are increasing because other causes of lung cancer are still impacting the population.

Oftentimes, lung cancer is not diagnosed until it has developed to a later stage due to a lack of awareness and early detection. A late-stage diagnosis often comes with a low chance of survival. Lung cancer can be hard to diagnose in the early stages with few initial symptoms and the lack of knowledge and awareness of the disease. 

Many people believe that if they do not smoke or use tobacco that they could never develop lung cancer. The early signs of the disease are hard to detect as is. When it is thought of as never being a possibility, the chances of being diagnosed in a later stage significantly increases. Therefore, being informed of the potential risk factors and causes of lung cancer could be the difference between life and death. Anyone with lungs can get lung cancer.

Risk Factors of Lung Cancer

Leading Risk Factors for Lung Cancer
Smoking

Tobacco smoking is the leading cause of lung cancer. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, those who smoke are approximately 30 times more likely to get lung cancer than those who don’t. Also, cigarette smoking remains the leading cause of preventable disease and death in the United States. Studies also show that the more cigarettes smoked per day and the more years a person has smoked greatly increases the likelihood of developing lung cancer.

secondhand smoke risk factor
Secondhand Smoke

Secondhand smoke occurs when tobacco smoke fills an environment and is inhaled involuntarily. Since the 1964 Surgeon General’s Report, 2.5 million nonsmokers died just by breathing secondhand smoke, according to the CDC. Secondhand smoke contains thousands of toxic chemicals that damage the lungs.

Hazardous Chemical Risk Factor
Hazardous Chemicals

Exposure to certain hazardous chemicals and substances can cause damage to the lungs, which could result in lung cancer. Asbestos, uranium, arsenic, cadmium, chromium, nickel, and some petroleum products can be particularly dangerous to your lungs (learn more at the American Lung Association). The CDC states that some of these substances are far more dangerous than smoking tobacco. Certain jobs may be required to work with such chemicals; however, these chemicals could also be found in soil or older buildings due to a chemical spill. This type of contamination is often referred to as chemical vapor intrusion. Learn more about keeping your indoor air quality safe. 

Family History Risk Factor
Family History

If your family members have been diagnosed with lung cancer, you may be more likely to develop the disease, as well. This could be based on living in or being exposed to the same environment and breathing the same level of air quality. If an environmental factor caused their diagnosis, there is a chance you could be at risk, too. Lung cancer could be contributed to members of a household being exposed to radon, cigarette smoke, and other hazardous elements that can cause lung cancer. Also, family history may play a role in the susceptibility of cell mutation

Radon Gas Risk Factor
Radon Gas

Many individuals have never heard of radon – a colorless, odorless, tasteless, radioactive, naturally occurring gas. Yet, the EPA states radon is the leading cause of lung cancer among nonsmokers. Over 21,000 people die from radon-induced lung cancer every year in the United States alone. Also, smokers exposed to elevated radon levels have a much higher risk of developing lung cancer. Learn more about the symptoms of radon gas poisoning on our blog. 

How does radon harm your lungs? Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas that is released from the breakdown of uranium in the ground. This gas can seep into your home, your office building, your schools, or any building for that matter through cracks and openings in the foundation. Once radon is present, it can then damage your lungs when breathed. The higher the level of radon in an indoor environment, the higher chances of damage to your lungs.

The EPA recommends installing a professional radon mitigation system if the radon level is 4.0 pCi/L or above. However, there is no safe level of radon. The first step in preventing your exposure to radon gas is to test.

Test your home in the Louisville or Lexington area or contact a certified radon specialist in your area. 

How do you reduce your lung cancer risk?

Protecting your lungs from the risk factors above is the best way to reduce your risk and prevent the developing lung cancer. Take these steps to keep your lungs healthy and safe:

  • Do not smoke.
    • You can decrease your risk of developing lung cancer by not smoking. 
    • Counseling, nicotine replacement products, or antidepressants can help a person quit smoking. 
  • Test your home and office for radon gas.
    • Radon-induced lung cancer is preventable through radon testing and mitigation.
    • Radon gas is odorless, colorless, and tasteless, so the only way to know if radioactive radon is in your home is to test.
    • You can schedule a professional radon test with a licensed and certified local radon professional to determine your radon exposure risk at home.
  • Avoid other indoor air pollutants
    • If you are in an environment or live with someone who smokes, talk to them about quitting smoking and the risks of developing lung cancer. 
    • If you are a smoker, do not smoke indoors or in cars to protect others around you.
    • If your job requires you to be around toxic chemicals, dust, or fumes take the necessary precautions and talk to your employer.
  • Live a healthy lifestyle
    • Keep your lungs and body healthy by exercising.
    • Those who eat fruits and vegetables have a lower risk of developing lung cancer.
    • A healthy lifestyle generally lowers your risk for developing cancer overall.
  • Get tested with a low-dose computed tomography (LDCT) scan
    • If you are 50 years or older and have a history of smoking, you should get screened with a low dose CT scan. 
    • If you have a job that puts you at elevated risk for lung cancer, an LDCT scan is also recommended for you. 
    • If you have been exposed to elevated levels of radon, talk to your doctor about getting a scan.

Lung Cancer Treatment

If you are currently or have been exposed to any of the risk factors for lung cancer, talk to your doctor. Take steps and preventative measures to reduce your risk and protect your lungs. Also, discuss the signs and symptoms of lung cancer with your primary care doctor if you think you are experiencing these symptoms.

Furthermore, there is no guarantee of life-long healthy lungs. It is important to talk to your doctor and advocate for your lung health. Early detection and prevention gives lung cancer patients the best chance at fighting the disease.

Key Points:

  • Lung cancer is the leading cancer killer in both men and women in the U.S.
  • Smoking may pose the greatest risk, but it is not the only cause of lung cancer. There are other causes, such as exposure to radon and other hazardous air pollutants.
  • Screening at-risk individuals has the potential to dramatically improve lung cancer survival rates.
  • To reduce your risk of lung cancer, be aware of risk factors and take preventative measures. 
  • Test your homes and buildings for radon gas as one way to help prevent lung cancer.
Categories
Podcasts

The Effect of Vapor Intrusion on Regulatory Guidance and Technology

Episode 3: The Effect of Vapor Intrusion on Regulatory Guidance and Technology

With David Gillay and Chris Bonniwell
Episode 3: The Effect of Vapor Intrusion on Regulatory Guidance and Technology ​ by Protect Environmental
00.00
  • Episode 3: The Effect of Vapor Intrusion on Regulatory Guidance and Technology ​

Show Notes:

In the third episode of The Green Scene Podcast, Kyle Hoylman interviews David Gillay and Chris Bonniwell on the ever-changing vapor intrusion industry and how it has affected regulatory guidance and long-term stewardship obligations. They also discuss the evolving science of remote telemetric technology – changing best practices for monitoring and maintaining vapor intrusion around the world.

Guest Bios:

David Gillay - Partner in the Environmental Department of Barnes & Thornburg

David Gillay is a partner in the Environmental Department of Barnes & Thornburg. Before joining the department in 2001, he obtained an advanced environmental engineering degree and practiced as an environmental consultant on various projects across the country.

Presently, David has a legal practice that concentrates on many environmental subjects, such as brownfields projects – remediation projects dealing with soil, surface water and groundwater contamination, environmental due diligence – assessing and managing the vapor intrusion pathway in real estate transactions and redevelopment property. His area of expertise also involves cost-recovery claims against owners and operators for contamination, including evaluating other mechanisms to fund investigatory and cleanup activities.

Chris Bonniwell, PhD – President of Vapor Products Group

Chris Bonniwell is a nationally recognized provider of radon and chemical vapor intrusion mitigation solutions and has over 13 years of professional environmental experience as a state regulator and environmental consultant.

Currently, Chris leads the development, production, and assessment of products advancing the radon and chemical vapor intrusion industry, along with the recently patented Vapor Sentinel Remote Monitoring System and Vapor Sentinel New Construction technology.

Vapor Intrusion and Regulatory Guidance

Vapor Intrusion was not heavily investigated until about 15 to 20 years ago, however, vapor intrusion is now the exposure pathway with the greatest concern with environmental contamination. In the past two decades, the science, regulation and technology of vapor intrusion has continued to develop and expand.

With regulation change, there is better technological development to manage this long-term lability and risks. New telemetric technology now gives clients certainty that vapor intrusion is being properly mitigated through continuous monitoring.

The practices and technology for new construction projects continue to evolve, as well, with sub-slab solutions. There is a growing trend to implement these vapor safe techniques into every building whether vapor intrusion is present or for future protection.

“I think there is a growing trend, especially in the regulatory environment, to better understand how vapor intrusion is migrating and moving below the subsurface.”
Chris Bonniwell
President of Vapor Products Group

Key Take-Aways:

  • The dangers of vapor intrusion
  • How has the vapor intrusion industry changed over the past 15 years?
  • The requirements for long-term liability obligations
  • The guidance for vapor intrusion within government reuse and transactional due diligence
  • The benefits of continuing obligation plans
  • The future for vapor intrusion regulatory guidance
  • New technology that impacts long term liability and risks
  • The current process for monitoring and maintaining VI
  • Defining telemetric monitoring as a VI solution
  • The future of VI monitoring
  • The new practices and technology for vapor intrusion in new construction
  • The benefits of sub slab solutions
  • From a legal standpoint, the best protection for new construction projects
  • How vapor intrusion is transforming science, regulatory guidance, and technology for the better

Links:

Listen to The Green Scene Podcast on any streaming platform.

Categories
Blog

What is the Solution to Soil Vapor Intrusion Risk?

Chemical vapor intrusion (VI) can be a significant health risk to building occupants in the proximity of soils and/or groundwater contaminated by volatile organic compounds (VOC emissions). The risk of soil vapor intrusion often dominates current investigations of environmental contamination. Also, vapor intrusion can have profound impacts on property developments and real estate transactions for properties adjacent to contamination. Yet, the vapor intrusion industry continues to evolve and the most effective and efficient solution to soil vapor intrusion is further debated. 

As a former environmental regulator, my first experiences with vapor intrusion and sampling methods showed an industry clearly in its early stages. Government and Industry experts invest significant time and money researching these sampling methods. They also study the nature of vapor migration in preferential pathways and beneath structures.

In the 15 years that have followed those first vapor intrusion experiences, a consensus on representative sampling for a definitive determination of vapor intrusion indoor air risks remains elusive. In the absence of an agreement, the result is a range of variability in how such determinations are made. Frequently, there are debates regarding vapor intrusion risk to building occupants and the multiple iterations of sampling. Often, the sampling can take months or even years and cost thousands of dollars.  All the while, the potential for occupant exposure continues.

Don’t debate, mitigate.

Protection from changing vapor intrusion regulations and best practices

The EPA’s VI guidance (EPA 2015) clearly states that pre-emptive mitigation can be an early action that protects building occupants. Mitigation also involves less disruption to the occupants compared to multiple iterations of indoor air sampling events.

Additionally, mitigation can generally be implemented relatively quickly and cost effectively in most structures and building types. While vapor intrusion and sampling practices continue to be regularly debated, soil gas mitigation techniques are well founded from over 30 years of radon mitigation.

Furthermore, national consensus-based standards developed by the American Association of Radon Scientist and Technologists (AARST), through the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), include a broad group of stakeholders with backgrounds spanning in radon, chemical vapor intrusion, state and federal regulatory agencies, and manufacturing. These standards, available for free at (http://standards.AARST.com), establish clear criteria for the design and implementation of soil gas mitigation solutions. 

Ultimately, rather than debating yet-to-be-decided-upon vapor intrusion investigation practices, investing in the established science of mitigation saves time and money.

Don’t debate, mitigate.

Mitigation-Solution---Graphic

VOC, Radon, and Other Contaminates

Beyond the primary purposes of mitigating to eliminate intrusion of known VOC impacts, mitigation provides several secondary benefits. Active soil depressurization not only prevents VOCs from entering a structure, but also limits the intrusion of other soil gases, including water vapor, odors, pesticides, and radon.

A reduction in water vapor intrusion can significantly improve a structure both in comfort and in the reduction of potential mold development. Also, radon reduction is perhaps the greatest standalone reason for mitigating a property. Radon is found throughout the country and the leading cause of lung cancer among non-smokers. This radioactive gas is a known carcinogen that results in approximately 21,000 lung cancer deaths annually (https://www.epa.gov/radon/health-risk-radon). The current EPA action level for radon is 4.0 pCi/L, at which the risk for developing cancer is up to 1000 times greater than the cleanup standard for environmental contaminants. Besides VOC intrusion, all structures can benefit from active soil gas mitigation.

Don’t debate, mitigate.

Soil Vapor Intrusion Solution - Mitigation and Monitoring

Actively mitigating structures at the earliest indication of potential vapor intrusion risks utilizes well established and standardized techniques to immediately protect building inhabitants from suspected contamination. Although, mitigation can also protect inhabitants from radon and potentially improve the overall indoor air quality. Compared to ongoing, costly, and often inconclusive indoor air sampling events, active soil gas mitigation is quick, cost effective, and a definitive solution to vapor intrusion.

Additionally, modern advances for vapor intrusion monitoring now exist through telemetric technology. Continuous long-term monitoring for mitigation operation and performance reduces the need for costly and time-consuming sampling.  With advanced monitoring equipment, such as the Vapor Sentinel Remote Monitoring system, mitigation can be monitored continuously, documenting any changes in data. 24/7/365 continuous monitoring protects stakeholders by protecting against possible liabilities and keeping building occupants from potential exposure.

 Don’t debate, mitigate. 

Want more information?

Contact our team of experts to learn more about Vapor Sentinel Remote Monitoring for your project sites.
Categories
Podcasts

What Solar Energy’s Bright Future Holds for Green Building Science

Episode 2: What Solar Energy's Bright Future Holds for Green Building Science

With solar expert and Owner of Solar by Ecos, Chris Zitelli
Episode 2: What Solar Energy's Bright Future Holds for Green Building Science with Chris Zitelli by Protect Environmental
00.00
  • Episode 2: What Solar Energy's Bright Future Holds for Green Building Science with Chris Zitelli

Show Notes:

In the second episode of The Green Scene Podcast Kyle Hoylman interviews Chris Zitelli about the many advantages of solar energy, the future of solar technology, and how solar energy is being used all around us – changing the way we use energy, all around the world, for the better.

Chris is the co-owner and founder of Solar by Ecos.  He is a LEED Accredited Professional, HERS and LEED-Certified Rater, and a Green Advantage Certified Professional. As a certified solar energy professional, his goal is to see the use of this renewable resource expand across Kentucky and the greater United States. Chris brings a more holistic approach to green building science – a great asset to the solar industry as a whole.

How Solar Energy Works:

Solar energy is a renewable resource. Renewable resources are defined as natural resources that will replenish to replace the portion that was depleted by usage and consumption. Solar energy utilizes light and heat from the sun to supply a continuous source of clean energy. Because of the little environmental impact and accessibility, solar energy is one of the top growing energy resources in the world.

One of the main ways the sun’s energy is collected and distributed into usable electricity is through solar panels or photovoltaics (sensors that convert light to electricity). The sunlight excites the photon cells or PV cells in the panel creating an electrical charge. Then the electrical current is harnessed into electricity that flows through wires connected to the solar panel. Electricity is gathered almost instantaneously. Excess energy can be stored onto the solar grid or battery for later independent use.

Looking to the Future of Solar Energy

Furthermore,  technology within the solar industry continues to advance and now provides energy on a larger scale. The cost-effectiveness of solar energy continues to improve, as well, with ever evolving processes and increasing popularity. The solar industry is a growing market that is now outpacing any other form of energy . Currently, a utility-scale solar installation is more cost-effective and efficient than building a more traditional coal-fired power plant. The ROI of solar is now closer to those of traditional energy costs.

In addition, solar energy has little negative impact on the environment, with no creation of emissions, or waste. More communities across the world are continuing to embrace solar energy as a primary source of energy. While renewable energy sources and climate change are considered a political hot-button topic here in the United States, political support continues to grow with the industry’s economic growth.

Contact Chris Zitelli for any questions regarding solar energy or Solar by Ecos.

“Solar energy is out pacing any other form of energy… and I do think if we want to turn back some of the consequences, we are going to need to do something pretty dramatic or it is going to be a problem.”
Chris Zitelli
Owner, Ecos Materials and Services

Key Take-aways:

  • How solar energy works
  • The difference between the solar grid and solar battery
  • The continued evolution of solar energy technology
  • Why Texas blamed solar energy for the statewide power outage in Spring of 2021
  • Common misconceptions about solar energy
  • The solar industry advancements and economic stride
  • ROI of solar energy for residential and commercial customers
  • Solar energy’s effect on air quality and the environment
  • The future of the solar industry
  • Current and future government policy that helps expand the use of solar energy in the United States

Links:

Listen to The Green Scene Podcast of our streaming platforms.

Categories
Blog

Don’t Fear the Vapor

Hazards surround us every day. From sharing the road with my teenage son (best give him room) to the foods we eat (E. Coli with your romaine?), to the hands we shake (pre-COVID of course), everything has risks. Managing these risks is what allows us to focus on family, fun, and work (even if not always in that order). Environmental risk management is no different.

For the past two decades, vapor intrusion has been the exposure pathway of greatest concern with environmental contamination when compared to groundwater ingestion and soil exposure.  This is easy to understand. As direct groundwater ingestion in metropolitan and industrialized areas is increasingly less common given municipally managed drinking water.

Similarly, direct exposure to contaminated soils is an exposure pathway easily managed through removal and/or engineering controls. So, this leaves vapor intrusion as the exposure pathway with the greatest potential.

Don’t fear the vapor. (queue Blue Oyster Cult soundtrack).

An always-changing vapor intrusion industry

The science of characterizing chemical vapor intrusion pathways continues to evolve. However, the science behind mitigating intrusion has been underway since the residential radon industry originated almost 40 years ago.

Today, this already mature industry continues to evolve. This is demonstrated by the national consensus standards promulgated by the American Association of Radon Scientists and Technologists (AARST) through the American National Standards Institute (ANSI).

These standards are our guide as to the methods of radon and soil gas mitigation in single-family homes (SGM-SF-2017), multi-family buildings (RMS-MF-2018), large building/schools (RMS-LB-2018), and in New Construction (CC-1000-2018).  They give a great deal of detail on how to design, install, and verify performance of soil gas mitigation systems to protect the building occupants.

Don’t fear the vapor. 

Environmental risk and liability

A recent article regarding California updates to vapor intrusion screening criteria identified the criteria as impeding Brownfield redevelopment of contaminated areas. While potential vapor intrusion should be addressed in Brownfield redevelopment, it does not need to prevent it from happening.

Under the 2001 Brownfield Amendments to CERCLA, a bona fide protective purchaser (BFPP) is shielded from liability for cleaning up historical contamination. This makes Brownfield redevelopments financially feasible. The BFPP provision does require the purchaser to exercise appropriate care to limit continued human exposure.

Administrative controls on contaminated soil (soil management plan) and groundwater (usage restriction) are typical “due care” acts to protect exposure to these media. This is assuming significant off-site contamination migration has occurred.

So, this leaves the vapor inhalation exposure pathway. While mitigating vapor intrusion has financial implications, it generally pales in comparison to measures required to control off-site migration of groundwater or excavation/disposal of contaminated groundwater. This makes vapor intrusion the most manageable exposure pathway. 

Don’t fear the vapor. 

Environmental Risk Management - Vapor Sentinel

Better environmental risk management is possible

Once a vapor mitigation solution is in place, due care of operation, maintenance, and monitoring (OM&M) is needed to make sure the system continues to protect building occupants.

The Vapor Sentinel Remote Monitoring (VSRM) system greatly simplifies this OM&M by providing 24/7/365 monitoring of system performance. The monitoring system immediately notifies stakeholders of a problem with the system (e.g. building maintenance, building tenants, regulators, etc.). 

The VSRM user interface is customizable to each stakeholder. It provides only the information needed for their role. In addition to current performance data, the system also provides historical performance data. Historical data can be critical evidence for legally defending that occupants were, are, and will be continuously protected against exposure to hazardous soil gases.

With Vapor Sentinel Remote Monitoring keeping watch, there is no need to worry about risks of vapor intrusion. Vapor Sentinel makes it possible to move redevelopment projects forward while satisfying standard requirements and protecting building occupants around the clock.

Don’t fear the vapor.

Want more information?

Contact our team of experts to learn more about Vapor Sentinel Remote Monitoring for your project sites.
Categories
Careers

Field Professional: Salt Lake City, Utah

Department: Consulting
Supervisor: Director, Consulting
Hours: FT/40 hours
Location: Remote with possibility of travel M-F, *looking for an applicant based out of the Salt Lake City, Utah area

Position Description

Field Professionals support the organization’s clients. This position installs testing devices in a variety of facility locations around the country. Successful Field Professionals will have at least 2 years customer service experience, preferably in the field vs. the office environment. Environmental experience is preferred, but not required. Protect Environmental will invest and pay for the acquisition of industry credentials and certifications. Field Professionals will be working inside a variety of facility types, including, but not limited to commercial single/multifamily homes and will need to review and make onsite decisions based on project specs to ensure proper installation and successful testing events.

Principal Responsibilities

  • Creating positive customer relationships and referrals by providing exemplary service and support.
  • Managing communication with clients and other project stakeholders for each assigned project.
  • Travel locally and nationally
  • Ensuring proper installation of testing devices
  • Completing project documentation, reviewing project documentation.
  • Meet project deadlines to ensure customer satisfaction
  • Safeguarding confidential business information and / or practices to ensure the company maintains its    competitive position.
  • Attending training events and maintaining credentials, reading industry publications, maintaining business networks and participating in professional associations.
  • Consistent and constant communication with other team members
  • Prepare and submit required documents and reports to the client or designated representative.
  • Onsite decision making to ensure successful consultation
  • Perform other duties and responsibilities that may be required.

Qualifications

  • Minimum 2-3 years of experience in customer service
  • Detail oriented
  • Excellent organizational skills, ability to prioritize tasks and manage time effectively
  • Ability to work within deadlines
  • Punctuality

Position Compensation

  • Full time, salary
  • Base compensation payable bi-weekly, plus bonus incentive

Position Benefits

Eligibility for benefits is earned upon successful completion of a 90-day introductory period. Benefits will be administered in accordance with the current benefits plan. Benefits include:

  • Health, dental, vision, life insurance
  • 401(k) plan with company match
  • Paid PTO and holidays

Apply Today:

Categories
Careers

Field Professional: Phoenix, Arizona

Department: Consulting
Supervisor: Director, Consulting
Hours: FT/40 hours
Location: Remote with possibility of travel M-F, *looking for an applicant based out of the Phoenix, AZ area

Position Description

Field Professionals support the organization’s clients. This position installs testing devices in a variety of facility locations around the country. Successful Field Professionals will have at least 2 years customer service experience, preferably in the field vs. the office environment. Environmental experience is preferred, but not required. Protect Environmental will invest and pay for the acquisition of industry credentials and certifications. Field Professionals will be working inside a variety of facility types, including, but not limited to commercial single/multifamily homes and will need to review and make onsite decisions based on project specs to ensure proper installation and successful testing events.

Principal Responsibilities

  • Creating positive customer relationships and referrals by providing exemplary service and support.
  • Managing communication with clients and other project stakeholders for each assigned project.
  • Travel locally and nationally
  • Ensuring proper installation of testing devices
  • Completing project documentation, reviewing project documentation.
  • Meet project deadlines to ensure customer satisfaction
  • Safeguarding confidential business information and / or practices to ensure the company maintains its    competitive position.
  • Attending training events and maintaining credentials, reading industry publications, maintaining business networks and participating in professional associations.
  • Consistent and constant communication with other team members
  • Prepare and submit required documents and reports to the client or designated representative.
  • Onsite decision making to ensure successful consultation
  • Perform other duties and responsibilities that may be required.

Qualifications

  • Minimum 2-3 years of experience in customer service
  • Detail oriented
  • Excellent organizational skills, ability to prioritize tasks and manage time effectively
  • Ability to work within deadlines
  • Punctuality

Position Compensation

  • Full time, salary
  • Base compensation payable bi-weekly, plus bonus incentive

Position Benefits

Eligibility for benefits is earned upon successful completion of a 90-day introductory period. Benefits will be administered in accordance with the current benefits plan. Benefits include:

  • Health, dental, vision, life insurance
  • 401(k) plan with company match
  • Paid PTO and holidays

Apply Today:

Categories
Blog

10 Working From Home Tips for Creating Healthy Indoor Air Quality

With more people than ever working from home during the Coronavirus pandemic, it’s important to talk about the quality of the air you’re breathing.

There are many benefits to working remotely, from lower operational costs of running a business to employees having more time to themselves since cutting out their commutes. The initial move to remote work out of necessity to keep people safe has now become a new normal way of life for many.

At the beginning of 2021, it is reported that 42% of the U.S. is now working from home after a year of shutdowns due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Almost twice as many employees are working remotely at the start of 2021 compared to the beginning of 2020. Additionally, many businesses are making this change permanently. 

“The trend toward working from home has been slowly increasing over the past decade. But those numbers have shifted dramatically in 2020 due to the widespread changes caused by COVID-19,” said Dr. Goodarzi, Canada Research Chair for Radiation Exposure Disease. “We are currently analyzing the impact of this sudden change.”

Just like anything, there are pros and cons of working remotely. By first being aware of the risks, we can do our best to create healthy air quality where we live and work. You can take simple, preventative, actions to make sure your home office environment is healthy and safe.

7 Common Indoor Air Pollutants that can have Significant Health Risks:

  1. Mold
  2. Pollen and Allergens
  3. Low Ventilation Rates and Carbon Dioxide Concentrations
  4. Carbon Monoxide
  5. Asbestos and Lead-based Paint
  6. Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC’s)
  7. Radon Gas Exposure

These hazardous pollutants and gases can be prevented or mitigated. With the correct tools, tips, and preventive measures you can create safe breathing air in your own home. The American Lung Association has shared some additional tips to know if your air is unhealthy. Establishing healthy indoor air quality at home is important to your overall health, especially for those of us working remotely.

10 tips to improve indoor air quality for a healthier home office environment:

  1. Thoroughly vacuum and clean your home once a week.
  2. Never smoke indoors. 
  3. Replace your furnace and air filter every 6 to 12 months.
  4. Use an air purifier.
  5. Invest in house plants for your workspace.
  6. Keep humidity levels under 50 percent to avoid mold growth.
  7. Open your windows when the weather is nice to create ventilation.
  8. Test for asbestos.
  9. Invest in a Carbon Monoxide detector.
  10. Test your home for radon gas.

When it comes to your health and safety when working from home, testing for radon is especially important. Radon is a naturally occurring, radioactive gas that can be found at dangerous levels in your home. You would not know if your home has radon or not because it is odorless, colorless, and tasteless.

Consequently, that invisible radioactive gas may be accumulating at elevated levels in your home. This same gas is responsible for the deaths of more than 21,000 Americans every year. Also, it is the leading cause of lung cancer among non-smokers.

This gas is naturally occurring, originating from the breakdown of uranium in the ground, and enters your home through cracks in the foundation or pipes. Radon damages your lungs when breathed and over time can mutate lung cells, resulting in lung cancer.  

The radon risk of working from home

Dr. Goodarzi and other radon researchers are predicting a 35% jump in residential radon exposure from March 2020 onwards.

Due to the current pandemic, people are spending much more time at home than in the past. Before the concern of the pandemic, most people were spending their days in the office or coming and going on the weekends.

If your home has elevated levels of radon, you are being exposed more often than you would if you were spending less time at home. It is as important as ever to test your home for radon to make sure your breathing air is healthy and safe.

If your radon test results come back elevated, install a radon mitigation system. The EPA recommends mitigating your home if the radon levels come back at 4.0pCi/L or above.  Learn more about radon and the symptoms of radon gas poisoning here.

Any type of home can have elevated radon levels, regardless of if you have a basement or not – walk-out basements, crawl spaces – any home or building can have radon. Levels can vary between homes in the same neighborhood, even homes right next to one another. Elevated radon levels have been detected in all 50 states. 

It is never too late to take action. As you continue to work from home, make sure to take care of your mental and physical health by improving your air quality. The damaging effects of exposure to radioactive radon are completely preventable.

During this new season, one of the simplest ways to make sure you are staying healthy and safe while working from home is to test your home for radon.  

Let’s get started – if you live in the Louisville or Lexington area of Kentucky, contact us to schedule your radon test today!

Categories
Podcasts

How to Support Lung Cancer Awareness & Amplify the Radon Message

Episode 1: How to Support Lung Cancer Awareness and Amplify the Radon Message

With lung cancer survivor and Founder of Breath of Hope Kentucky, Lindi Campbell
Episode 1: How to Support Lung Cancer Awareness & Amplify the Radon Message with Lindi Campbell by Protect Environmental
00.00
  • Episode 1: How to Support Lung Cancer Awareness & Amplify the Radon Message with Lindi Campbell

Show Notes:

In the first episode of The Green Scene Podcast, Kyle Hoylman and Lindi Campbell discuss how to support lung cancer awareness in Kentucky to erase the lung cancer stigma and amplify the radon message.

Lindi is a lung cancer survivor and founder of Breath of Hope Kentucky, a local non-profit and a source of community for others diagnosed. The organization supports local lung cancer research initiatives to increase lung cancer survival statistics. Lindi invites others to join the fight against lung cancer by spreading awareness and erasing the lung cancer stigma.

The Importance of Radon Awareness

Radon gas is responsible for the deaths of more than 21,000 Americans every year. 500 of them in Kentucky alone. Kyle and Lindi discuss how lung cancer survivors and radon industry professionals can work together to amplify the radon message. A message that is critical to supporting lung cancer awareness initiatives – that anyone with lungs can get lung cancer. Radon being the leading cause of the disease among non-smokers

The lung cancer stigma negatively impacts the lives of those diagnosed. Others often assume that the victim smoked or lived a lifestyle that led to their diagnosis. Proper lung cancer testing is often not available to those classified as non-smokers because of the stigma that lung cancer is only a possibility with a history of smoking.

By amplifying the radon message, others can support lung cancer awareness and end the lung cancer stigma. Kyle and Lindi encourage others to join in the work to save lives by increasing awareness of the importance of early detection and prevention for everyone, even those who do not smoke.

“Our stories can provide hope, we are the breath of hope.”
Lindi Campbell
LUNG CANCER SURVIVOR AND FOUNDER OF BREATH OF HOPE KENTUCKY

Key Take-Aways:

  • The facts about radon gas. 
  • How Breath of Hope Kentucky is amplifying the message about the health risks of radon as the leading cause of lung cancer among non-smokers.
  • How the radon message can be applied by policymakers to implement policies that protect occupants from radon exposure.
  • Lindi defines the lung cancer stigma and how it affects those who are diagnosed.
  • What Breath of Hope Kentucky is doing as an organization to overcome the lung cancer stigma.
  • How spreading awareness about the dangers of radon exposure can help end the stigma of lung cancer. 
  • How the community and radon professionals can support lung cancer survivors. 
  • Lindi shares what’s in store for Breath of Hope Kentucky and how lung cancer survivor stories give hope to keep fighting. 
Categories
Blog Video

Leah Phillips’ Lung Cancer Survivor Story

I have lived in Louisville, Kentucky most of my life. For the last 10 years, I made managing my health a priority. I never smoked a day in my life. I exercise most days. I eat right. I have a yearly physical, mammogram, blood work, wear sunscreen, and basically do my best to be as healthy as possible. I am a busy mom to 3 children and loving my life and, bam…I am hit with this most unlikely diagnosis.

My journey with lung cancer began like many other stories I have read…with a misdiagnosis. A persistent cough in October 2019 led to a chest x-ray and an eventual diagnosis of pneumonia.  After 2 rounds of antibiotics that were not effective, doctors ordered a chest CT scan and diagnosed me with Antibiotic Resistant Pneumonia.  I was admitted to the hospital with 2 IV antibiotics and a bronchoscopy was performed by a Pulmonologist and told the results were “normal.” After a 5 day stay, I was discharged from the hospital to recover.  

Time passed but my cough was still hanging around and I still just wasn’t feeling myself. I knew something wasn’t right.  Two weeks after returning home from the hospital I went back to my Primary Care Physician with worsening side pain. I received another chest X-ray, followed by a chest CT scan that showed lesions on my spine.  I was once again admitted to the hospital where I had a bone biopsy, a brain MRI, a chest tube inserted, and another bronchoscopy procedure.  

I spent 8 days in a hospital bed and test results revealed I had stage IV adenocarcinoma lung cancer. It was one week before Christmas and I was only 43 years old. To say this was a shock, is putting it lightly! Molecular testing results showed I have the EGFR exon 19 deletion mutation. EGFR mutations are most common in female nonsmokers with adenocarcinoma like me. The mutation can cause cells to grow out of control and lead to cancer as it did in my case.

On December 30th I started a targeted therapy drug called Tagrisso known to show successful results in slowing down, reversing, and even eliminating some of the cancer due to this mutation. It is not a cure, as there is currently no cure for stage 4 lung cancer, but it is the best line of treatment for my type of mutation and I am fortunate to have access to this line of targeted treatment. It is not without its share of side effects that are sometimes challenging to deal with, but I know this little pill I take every day is saving my life. However, it is a constant reminder that I have cancer.

Since January 2, 2020, I have been traveling back and forth between my Oncologist in Louisville and Oncologist Dr. Horn at Vanderbilt who is an expert in the type of cancer I have.

The second leading cause of lung cancer is exposure to radon gas and Dr. Horn believes this is most likely the cause of my lung cancer since I have never smoked. Looking back, we did have slightly elevated radon at our house we moved out of 3 years prior to my diagnosis, but I cannot pinpoint any other times I may have been exposed. It is important that people understand the danger of this radioactive gas and have their homes tested for radon. I never in a million years would have expected to receive this diagnosis and if I can help others understand that anyone can get lung cancer, I want to be able to generate that awareness with my story.

I am fighting, I am remaining positive, and I am living my best life one day at a time.

Leah is a part of the organization, Breath of Hope KY. Learn more about this organization.

Categories
Blog Video

Chasity Harney’s Lung Cancer Survivor Story

I was born and raised in Kentucky where I currently live with my husband and our three children.  Never in a million years would I have believed I could get lung cancer because there is no history of the disease in my family and I have never smoked.

One day, while teaching at my school, I had a sharp pain in my chest radiating around to my back that would not go away. I was concerned enough to see my doctor the next day and was relieved when she made the decision to order a CT scan. Thankfully, that one occurrence alarmed me enough to see my doctor right away because I had not experienced any other symptoms and I never felt that original pain again.

As a result of the images on the chest scan and some additional tests, on October 9, 2018, I was diagnosed with stage 3c adenocarcinoma NSCLC just two weeks shy of my 41st birthday. I had 2 tumors in my upper left lobe and 11 lymph nodes that were cancerous.  Initially, I felt numb when we first heard this news. I hurt for my husband and my 3 children and experienced lots of fear not knowing what my future would look like.

Shortly after my diagnosis, we received the news that I tested positive for the EGFR mutation. I soon learned that having this mutation made me a candidate for targeted therapy. I had six weeks of chemo, 30 rounds of radiation, a lobectomy to remove the upper lobe of my left lung, a wedge resection to remove a nodule in the bottom left lobe, 5 pinpoint radiation treatments on my left and right lung, and currently, I am on the targeted therapy pill Tagrisso (80) mg. Throughout this process, I experienced what I would describe as a feeling similar to grief.  I mourned for my old life…before the cancer. As a family, we were lost.

Over time as I healed from the initial surgery and have had a chance to process our new reality, I realized I wanted to do more to raise awareness about this disease. I hope to help others understand that lung cancer is not a smoker’s disease, it can happen to anyone, even if you have never smoked.  I also hope by sharing my story people who read this will listen to their body and seek medical attention when something doesn’t seem right. You never know when your body’s pain or discomfort is an underlying sign of something more serious.

Kentucky may rank # 1 in lung cancer cases and deaths, but don’t be so quick to assume it is because of smoking.  My story is proof that if you have lungs…you can get lung cancer. I can’t say for certain what caused the damage in my lungs to develop into cancer but after I was diagnosed, we had our home tested for radon. We made the decision to put in a mitigation system when the radon readings were 8.0 pCi/L, twice the measurement of what is considered a health risk.  I was also exposed to a lot of dust and particles in the air when the school I taught in for 17 years was torn down and the air of our new school was temporarily filled with the overflow of unclean air.

I would advise anyone who is newly diagnosed to try and stay calm and don’t panic. It’s important not to rush into any treatment before seeking a second or even a third opinion. I was eager to get treatment started so I initially did not get a second opinion. I first did chemo and radiation close to home then went to The James Center in Columbus Ohio to a lung specialist and thoracic surgeon. I am currently still being treated by those same doctors at The James Center in Columbus.  If I had to do it over, I believe I would have sought out a second opinion before rushing into treatment.

A cancer diagnosis is devastating. My whole entire family has learned never to take one day for granted. We live in the present, not looking at the past or future. God continues to give me strength and endurance daily to be the wife and mom I need to be.

Chasity is a part of the organization, Breath of Hope KY. Learn more about the organization.

Categories
Blog Video

Lindi Campbell’s Lung Cancer Survivor Story

In December 2015, I was only 51 when a spot was discovered on the lower lobe of my right lung. I have never used tobacco products, was a very healthy eater and regular exerciser. The nodule was found initially on a routine x-ray by my Primary Care Physician. A CT scan, a PET scan, and numerous follow-up CT scans over a period of 18 months showed some growth, but the reason for the growth was still inconclusive. Lung cancer seemed out of the realm of possibility due to my health history.

When the nodule reached the size of 2.4 cm a biopsy was scheduled to determine if the spot was cancerous. Initially, much to my relief, the results came back showing no signs of cancer. We would later learn that biopsies do not always rule out cancer. After treating the growth in my lung over several months for a possible fungus with no success, I was advised to have it removed without delay and surgery was immediately scheduled within weeks.

The firm advice to proceed with surgery most likely is the key factor in catching it before it had spread. No one could fathom that it would be cancer. A wedge resection surgery was scheduled in December 2017 to remove the unidentified growth. However, during surgery, pathology revealed cancer.

A thoracotomy was performed immediately to remove two lobes of my right lung to ensure all of the cancer was gone. The final pathology report indicated two types of cancer, Adenocarcinoma and Squamous cell carcinoma. This rare form takes on a name of its own, Adenosquamous Carcinoma. According to the American Journal of Clinical Pathology, this type of cancer exists in 0.4% to 4% of cases. My cancer, although very rare, had not spread to the lymph nodes and was stage 1. My survival prognosis was considered to be very good. Unfortunately, only 16% of people will be diagnosed in the earliest stages like me, when the disease is most treatable.

After a year and a half of clean scans post-surgery, a few new spots began to appear in my left lung. We continued to follow the growth of these nodules until one in the lower portion of the lung had grown enough (8 mm) to warrant removal for further testing.  In May 2020 a wedge resection was scheduled to examine the growth. It too was cancer. Molecular testing of the tissue revealed I have a genetic mutation called EGFR exon 19 deletion that is driving the cancer in my lungs. I am now on a targeted therapy drug called Osemertinib to intercept the work of the mutation and help prevent future recurrences. I will be on this medicine until it stops working or until there is a better option. Our hope is the cancer does not ever return or spread outside of my lungs. I am very grateful for my health at this time and for the hope research and medicine provide lung cancer survivors, but there is still so much work to be done to increase survival statistics of this number one cancer killer.

Learn about Lindi’s organization, Breath of Hope KY.

Categories
Industry Updates

HUD MAP Guide – Key Radon Measurement and Mitigation Updates

The HUD Office of Multifamily Housing Programs has released its updated Multifamily Accelerated Processing (MAP) Guide. Released on December 18, 2020, the guidance goes into effect on March 18, 2021. Key updates to radon measurement and mitigation requirements include:

  • Section 9.6.3.2.C – the previous guidance permitted the radon professional to conclude that testing or mitigation isn’t necessarily based on a physical inspection of the property, the characteristics of the buildings, and other valid justifications. The updated guidance requires a valid justification for requesting exemption of testing or mitigation, based on criteria detailed in the applicable ANSI/AARST standard, to be provided by the radon professional in the form of a signed letter.
  • Section 9.6.3.2.C – the previous guidance excluded testing and mitigation for Section 223(f) projects located in Zone 3 of the EPA’s Map of Radon Zones. The updated guidance removes this exclusion, requiring testing and mitigation for all Section 223(f) projects.
  • Section 9.6.3.2.D – the previous guidance permitted random screening of 25% of ground contact units in each building in lieu of the full 100% characterization required by the measurement standard. The updated guidance removes this deviation, requiring radon testing to be conducted in full compliance with the ANSI/AARST measurement standard, which includes 100% testing of ground contact units in each building.
  • Section 9.6.3.2.G – the previous guidance permitted a ‘worst-case’ estimate for mitigation to be conducted as a non-critical repair. The updated guidance requires the lender to include a firm scope of work and all related costs for mitigation in the Firm application. In order to provide the firm scope of work and all related costs for mitigation, the pilot test and building evaluation will need to be treated as a critical repair.
  • Section 9.6.3.2.I – the previous guidance provided general parameters for the ongoing operation, maintenance, and monitoring (OMM) requirements when a mitigation system is installed at a property. The updated guidance requires an OMM program meeting the requirements of the ANSI/AARST mitigation standard to be maintained at a property containing a mitigation system for the duration of the insured mortgage. The OMM plan must be submitted to HUD upon completion of the mitigation project.
  • Section 9.6.3.2.J – the previous guidance did not include a provision for ensuring existing mitigation systems at a property are functioning correctly and meet the minimum requirements of the mitigation standard. The updated guidance requires existing mitigation systems at a property to be evaluated by a radon professional to confirm compliance with the ANSI/AARST mitigation standard and to verify they are functioning correctly. If applicable, corrective action must be taken by a radon professional to address any deficiencies with the mitigation systems.
  • Section 9.6.3.2.K – the previous guidance permitted a ‘worst-case’ cost estimate for mitigation and did not require inclusion of ongoing OMM costs. The updated guidance requires the lender to provide a firm scope of work and all related mitigation costs, to include ongoing OMM costs, in the Firm application.

For loans where the Firm application is submitted prior to the effective date, the lender must choose whether the 2016 or 2020 version of the MAP Guide will be utilized, stating this choice in the application. The lender may not mix underwriting provisions from both guides during the 90-day transition period.

The updated guidance is being implemented as we work to overcome the radon measurement and mitigation challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic. The COVID-19 measurement and mitigation guidance released by HUD’s Office of Multifamily Housing Programs on April 2, 2020 remains in effect. Check out our April 3, 2020 update on this guidance.

The updated guidance is specific to projects being processed under the MAP Guide. We anticipate similar radon measurement and mitigation guidance for projects being processed under the Office of Residential Care Facilities Section 232 Handbook in the future. The COVID-19 measurement and mitigation guidance released by ORCF on April 10, 2020 remains in effect. Check out our April 10, 2020 update on this guidance.

As always, the trusted professionals at Protect Environmental stand ready to assist you in determining the most efficient and economical approach for managing radon and chemical vapor intrusion. As the largest provider of radon measurement and mitigation services to HUD lenders, you can rely on our knowledge and expertise to provide flexible options to ensure your transactions continue to move forward in a timely and cost-effective manner. Follow our LinkedIn portal for timely updates related to the rollout of HUD’s updated MAP Guide.

Categories
Press Releases

Kyle Hoylman Named President of the American Association of Radon Scientists and Technologists

Industry association members elect seasoned veteran to lead organization during important time of tremendous opportunity and growth

Louisville, KY, November 16, 2020 – Protect Environmental announced today the election of Kyle Hoylman, its Managing Partner, to serve as president of the American Association of Radon Scientists and Technologists (AARST). The announcement comes after the annual meeting of the association held during the 2020 International Radon Symposium. As president of the organization, Hoylman will work with the AARST staff and board of directors to continue the implementation of the strategic plan of the organization. He will immediately assume the position, serving for a period of two years.

“I’m humbled by the vote of confidence from my industry colleagues to lead the organization during this important time of tremendous opportunity and growth,” said Hoylman. “I look forward to continuing the work of AARST in preventing radon-induced lung cancer and saving lives through increasing public awareness, raising industry professionalism, and supporting effective radon policy,” he added.

Hoylman brings over 15 years of experience in the radon and chemical vapor intrusion industry, serving as Managing Partner of Protect Environmental. Under his leadership, the company has grown into one of the largest environmental consulting and construction firms focusing on radon and chemical vapor intrusion in the country. He has been heavily involved within the AARST organization over the past decade, including serving on its board of directors, where he chaired the government affairs committee. He also chairs the executive stakeholder committee of the AARST Consortium on National Radon Standards, which oversees the ANSI/AARST national consensus radon standards recommended by the US EPA.

About Protect Environmental

Protect Environmental is a leader in the environmental consulting and construction industry, focusing on radon and chemical vapor intrusion management. With a proven track record spanning 15 years and more than 5,900 completed projects across the country, the company provides expert service from its trusted professionals to provide peace of mind protection to property owners seeking efficient and effective management of environmental risks and liabilities. For more information, call 502-410-5000 or click on to https://www.protectenvironmental.com.

Categories
Blog

Protect Environmental Participates in Computing for COVID-19 Project

Protect Environmental cares about the health and safety of its community and has recently signed up to host a node to support the efforts of a parallel computing Coronavirus research initiative.

Rosetta@Home is a distributed computing project that engages community involvement by utilizing volunteered computer space to speed up and extend research being conducted on existing biomolecules, including coronavirus proteins, as well as designing new proteins. Rosetta’s Computing for COVID project supports the research necessary to create medicines and vaccines as potential cures for the coronavirus.

How it works: a computing grid uses distributed computer resources to reach a common goal. These computers work together by assigning certain tasks and projects to millions of different nodes hosted on thousands of different servers.

“In a project of this scale, there are millions of large servers hosting thousands of nodes each. We are hosting just a tiny node in a huge effort. This is the largest amount of multi-organizational computing effort that has ever been unleashed to solve a problem in history, and we are excited to be even a small part of it.”

– Kyle Hoylman, Managing Partner of Protect Environmental

The Institute for Protein Design: University of Washington’s Baker Lab actively utilizes volunteered nodes for seven key projects, which are believed to have an immediate impact on containing COVID-19. You can read more about these projects individually by following the links below or by visiting the Institute for Protein Design’s website: Coronavirus Response

Protect Environmental supports the University of Washington’s Baker Lab and the research they are doing to fight the coronavirus. By participating in the Computing for COVID project, we believe we are doing a small part to help our community press on toward discovering an effective solution.  

To learn how you can be a part of the Rosetta@Home project Computing for COVID, visit their websites, consider giving online toward their research efforts, and share about the work they are doing. When we all band together, each contributing even in a small way, the impossible can be made possible. 

Categories
Industry Updates

Indiana Adopts Emergency Rule for Radon Measurement and Mitigation

Effective July 8, 2020, the Indiana State Department of Health has promulgated an emergency rule updating its radon measurement and mitigation requirements. The rule significantly impacts multifamily and residential care lending transactions being processed through HUD, Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac. Key points of the emergency rule include:

  • as a condition of licensure, radon contractors are required to maintain certification through a proficiency program recognized by the EPA.
  • all measurement, mitigation, and QA/QC activities must be conducted in accordance with the applicable AARST/ANSI standard.
  • a non-licensed person may only perform measurement and/or mitigation on a building that they own and occupy.

If you have a project located in Indiana, consider working with our company to ensure you are in compliance with this emergency radon rule. With a proven track record spanning 15 years and more than 5,900 completed projects across the country, Protect Environmental provides expert service from its trusted professionals to provide peace of mind protection to property owners seeking efficient and effective management of environmental risks and liabilities. For more information about putting our expertise to work for you, contact us today or give us a call at 502-410-5000.

Categories
Blog

The Reaction to Coronavirus Exposure vs Radon Exposure

The coronavirus has significantly impacted the lives of Kentuckians over the past several months. Major events have been canceled. Schools have been closed. Business has come to a grinding halt. The terms ‘quarantine’ and ‘social-distancing’ have become common. We even receive daily updates from our governor regarding our ongoing response to this public health emergency. To be certain, the changes to our daily lives have been sudden and drastic, all caused by a silent killer – the coronavirus. 

The similarities between radon, a cancer-causing, radioactive gas found in hazardous concentrations in almost 50% of all Kentucky buildings, and the coronavirus are striking. Both involve public health. Both have taken the lives of hundreds of Kentuckians this year.  Both have created enormous economic burdens. Both are silent killers. And both can be prevented by avoiding exposure. The difference in how Kentucky has responded to the coronavirus versus how it has responded to radon is also striking, which begs to question, “What if Kentucky responded to radon like it’s responding to the coronavirus?”

If Kentucky responded to radon like it’s responding to the coronavirus, swift action would be taken by our policymakers to mitigate exposure to radon. Buildings where we learn, work, and play would be monitored to ensure occupants aren’t unknowingly being exposed to unsafe concentrations of radon gas. And when unsafe concentrations of radon are identified, a mitigation system would be installed on the building to effectively manage occupant exposure. Persons buying a home would be empowered to make an informed decision regarding radon in their new home through effective notification and disclosure policies. Newly constructed buildings would include a passive ventilation system for more efficient and economical management of radon intrusion and require testing prior to occupancy. The result of implementing common-sense radon policy would be healthier, safer buildings where occupants aren’t being unknowingly exposed to cancer-causing, radioactive radon gas.    

The response to the coronavirus in our state proves our policymakers are capable of acting quickly. Why haven’t these same policymakers reacted as quickly to the ongoing pandemic caused by radon? Exposure to radon claims the lives of approximately 500 Kentuckians every year. Losing a loved one to a preventable disease has a tragic impact on Kentucky families. The financial burden created by the nearly $200 million dollars in direct and indirect costs caused by radon-induced lung cancer each year is alarming. Yet, our policymakers continue to ignore the unnecessary deaths and financial burden caused by this terrible disease.    

To be certain, if Kentucky responded to radon like it’s responding to the coronavirus, the impact on preventing radon-induced lung cancer and the number of lives saved would be significant. Maybe the question we should be asking is, “Why isn’t Kentucky responding to radon like it’s responding to the coronavirus?”  

Categories
Blog

Radon in Military Housing

U.S. Service members and their families living in housing owned and operated by the government are at risk for exposure to hazardous concentrations of cancer-causing, radioactive radon gas, as detailed in a recent report released by the Department of Defense (DoD) Office of Inspector General (OIG).

The report concludes: If the DoD and the Services do not improve policies and procedures to identify, mitigate or minimize, monitor, disclose, and oversee health and safety hazards in GO‑GC military housing, the DoD and the Services will continue to risk the health and safety of Service members and their families. 

U.S. Service members and their families living in housing owned and operated by the government are at risk for exposure to hazardous concentrations of cancer-causing, radioactive radon gas, as detailed in a recent report released by the Department of Defense (DoD) Office of Inspector General (OIG).

Evaluation Background

Radon is a naturally occurring, odorless, colorless radioactive gas formed by the decay of uranium. Radon exists in varying amounts in all soils, rocks, and some groundwater supplies worldwide. Radon enters the lungs when inhaled and chronic exposure may lead to lung cancer. Exposure to radon is the leading cause of lung cancer among non-smokers (second overall to smoking) and is responsible for more than 21,000 annual deaths in the United States. Radon poses a relatively low threat to human health outdoors; however, radon can accumulate to dangerous levels indoors. The presence of high levels of uranium in the soil or rock is not the sole reason for elevated indoor radon potential. Building design, building usage, building construction material, airflow, occupancy pattern, and the operation of the building’s heating, ventilation, and air‑conditioning system influence the accumulation of radon indoors. Testing for radon is the only way to determine if radon hazards are present in GO‑GC military housing.

Released on May 4, the report details the findings of the evaluation, which was conducted to determine if the DoD is effectively managing health and safety hazards, including radon, in GO-GC military housing. Currently, more than 38,000 GO-GC military housing units are owned, managed, or maintained by the DoD worldwide.

Government‑Owned and Government‑Controlled Military Family Housing

Eight military installations containing approximately 15,525 (41 percent of total) GO-GC housing units were included in the evaluation:

  • U.S. Army Garrison (USAG) Humphreys, Republic of Korea
  • USAG Wiesbaden, Germany
  • Naval Station (NAVSTA) Guantanamo Bay, Cuba
  • Commander Fleet Activities (CFA) Yokosuka, Japan
  • Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Iwakuni, Japan
  • Kadena Air Base (AB), Japan
  • Spangdahlem AB, Germany
  • Wright‑Patterson Air Force Base (AFB), Dayton, Ohio

The evaluation included:

  • A review of records, health and safety hazard management plans, policies and procedures, and health and safety hazard assessment and testing results to determine whether installation officials identified potential hazards and were implementing the requirements for the management of health and safety hazards in GO‑GC military housing.
  • Interviews with installation officials from housing, operations and maintenance, engineering, environmental, fire, safety, and health departments to determine their knowledge of applicable health and safety management requirements and their efforts to manage health and safety hazards in GO‑GC military housing.
  • A visual assessment of a selection of 187 GO‑GC military housing units to determine if health and safety hazards were effectively managed in GO‑GC military housing.

The Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) of 1976 assigns regulatory and program implementation responsibilities to federal agencies, such as the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), to control substances determined to cause unreasonable risk to public health or the environment. The TSCA currently covers the control of highly toxic substances, including radon. For purposes of the evaluation, the HUD’s Healthy Homes Program Manual for best practices and techniques to achieve a healthy home was utilized. Based on the OIG’s review of health and safety hazards described in the manual and observations from previous DoD OIG reports, the management of nine potential health and safety hazards, including radon, were included in the evaluation.

Evaluation Findings for Radon

At each of the eight military installations evaluated, systemic deficiencies in the management of health and safety hazards in GO-GC military housing were identified. Specific to radon, the following findings were noted:

  • Installation Officials Did Not Establish a Radon Assessment and Mitigation Program – the evaluation determined that installation officials at USAG Humphreys, USAG Wiesbaden, and NAVSTA Guantanamo Bay did not establish a radon assessment and mitigation program for GO‑GC military housing. The report summarizes: Installation officials at USAG Humphreys, USAG Wiesbaden, and NAVSTA Guantanamo Bay could not determine the extent that radon hazards were present in GO‑GC military housing. Without establishing a radon assessment and mitigation program, installation officials cannot manage radon hazards, and residents may have been exposed to radon hazards in GO‑GC military housing.
  • Installation Officials Established a Radon Assessment and Mitigation Program but Did Not Manage Radon Hazards – the evaluation determined that installation officials at CFA Yokosuka, MCAS Iwakuni, Spangdahlem AB, and Kadena AB were not evaluating hazards, controlling hazards, or informing residents of the presence of radon. The report summarizes: Installation officials are unable to identify the extent that radon hazards were present in GO‑GC military housing because installation officials did not evaluate and control radon hazards. Therefore, residents may have been exposed to radon hazards in GO‑GC military housing. Furthermore, without installation officials informing residents of radon hazards, residents may not be aware of the potential health effects of radon exposure.
Radon Hazard Management Program Summary by Installation

Report Recommendations for Radon

In response to the evaluation findings, the following recommendations were made in the report:
  • Establish or revise appropriate DoD policies to address health and safety hazards, including radon, in military housing to manage health, safety, and environmental risks to acceptable levels for military housing residents.
  • Revise Army Regulation 420‑1, Chief of Naval Operations Instruction 5009.1, Marine Corps Order 11000.22, Air Force Instruction 32‑6001, and all other housing‑related policies to align with recommended DoD policy revisions.
  • Develop oversight policies and procedures to assess the management of health and safety hazards in GO‑GC military housing.
  • Direct installation officials to correct the specific radon health and safety hazard management deficiencies discussed in the report.

Our Analysis

Radon is the most significant environmental health risk present in GO-GC military housing. Unfortunately, installation officials could not determine the extent that radon hazards were present in GO-GC military housing at seven of the eight installations included in the evaluation, and residents may have been exposed to hazardous radon concentrations in these GO-GC military housing units.

As stated in the report, radon assessments were conducted in the 1990s at military installations worldwide by the Services in response to the TSCA requirement. Most likely, these assessments have never been updated, reinforcing the position that installation officials cannot determine the extent of radon hazards present today in GO-GC military housing, and residents may be exposed to hazardous radon concentrations in GO-GC military housing units. Because geological conditions change and renovations may be conducted that may significantly modify the building envelope and mechanical systems, the current consensus radon standards recommended by the EPA specify all buildings be assessed for radon a minimum of one time every five years (every two years in buildings under active mitigation).

The guidance contained within the Army policy (AR 420‑1), the Navy policy (OPNAVINST 5090.1D, also covering Marine Corps installations), and the Air Force policy (AFI 48‑148) requires the implementation of a radon assessment and mitigation program. However, this guidance appears to be outdated or fails to incorporate requirements for radon contractors working on GO-GC military housing to be certified through a proficiency program recognized by the EPA or follow current consensus radon standards.  

In contrast, Section 3061 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020 applies to privatized military housing units, which constitute more than 99 percent of military housing in the continental United States. This Act requires an ongoing radon assessment and mitigation program to be implemented for all privatized military housing that includes radon measurement and mitigation activities be conducted by a radon contractor certified by a proficiency program recognized by the EPA following the consensus radon standards recommended by the agency.

In our opinion, adoption of the same requirements being utilized for privatized military housing should also be adopted for GO-GC military housing. After all, why shouldn’t Service members and their families living in GO-GC military housing be provided with the same protection against cancer-causing, radioactive radon as those living in privatized military housing?     

Categories
Industry Updates

HUD Releases Residential Care Facility Radon Testing Guidance in Response to Coronavirus (COVID-19) Emergency

The HUD Office of Residential Care Facilities has released guidance for radon testing during the COVID-19 emergencyReleased on April 10, the guidance contained within Mortgagee Letter 20-10 is effective immediately and reads: 

Regarding asbestos surveys and radon testing: In situations where interior access to the subject is limited and the asbestos survey (if applicable) and/or radon testing cannot be completed prior to application submittal, ORCF will require a Firm Commitment condition requiring the asbestos survey and/or radon testing (and any required mitigation to be identified) prior to closing. Such radon testing must test 100% of the ground level units/rooms and 10% of the upper floor units/rooms in all buildings included in the project.

The guidance provides flexibility for managing radon testing in situations where interior access to the subject property is limited. Because radon testing requires separate mobilizations for device placement and retrieval, the ability to submit applications without the radon report helps to ensure transactions don’t become stalled. However, when utilizing this option, testing of 100% of ground contact locations (and 10% of upper floor locations) is necessary and HUD will require a condition to be added to the Firm Condition requiring testing to be completed before closing.   

Radon mitigation, when required, must also be identified prior to closing. When testing is conducted after the Firm Commitment, completion of the pilot test needed to determine the firm non-critical repair budget for closing may create timing challenges. We recommend completing the required radon testing as soon as interior access is made available to the facility to prevent the potential for delays in the lending transaction when the need for radon mitigation is identified.  

As always, the trusted professionals at Protect Environmental stand ready to assist you in determining the most efficient and economical approach for managing radon and chemical vapor intrusion. During the COVID-19 emergency, you can rely on our expertise to provide flexible options to ensure your transactions continue to move forward – follow our LinkedIn portal for timely updates and information while this situation continues to evolve.

Categories
Industry Updates

HUD Releases Multifamily Radon Testing Guidance in Response to Coronavirus (COVID-19) Emergency

The HUD Office of Multifamily Housing Programs has released guidance for radon testing during the COVID-19 emergencyReleased on April 2, the guidance is effective immediately and reads:

For MF FHA-insured lending, in situations where interior access to the subject property is limited, and the asbestos surveys, lead-based paint hazard evaluations, and/or radon testing cannot be completed prior to application submittal, MFH Production will allow lenders to submit applications without these reports. However, MFH Production will require these reports before issuing a Firm Commitment. For new construction and substantial rehabilitation properties where asbestos clearance sampling, lead clearance examinations, or radon testing takes place a