Smart Talk

Smart Talk is a daily, live, interactive program featuring conversations with newsmakers and experts in a variety of fields and exploring a wide range of issues and ideas, including the economy, politics, health care, education, culture, and the environment.  Smart Talk airs live every week day at 9 a.m. on WITF’s 89.5 and 93.3.

Listen to Smart Talk live online from 9-10 a.m. weekdays and at 7 p.m. (Repeat of 9 a.m. program)

Host: Scott LaMar

Smart Talk: Radon a hazard throughout PA; The swashbuckling Frederick Burnham

Written by Scott LaMar, Smart Talk Host/Executive Producer | Jan 28, 2016 9:00 AM
radon map of pa.jpg

What to look for on Smart Talk Thursday, January 28, 2016:

Some 20,000 Americans die each year from lung cancer related to exposure to radon gas according to the American Cancer Society.  It is second only to smoking as a cause of lung cancer.  However, radon is a danger we don't hear about too often.  Maybe it's because there are so many other health threats we face every day or that radon is an odorless, colorless, radioactive gas we can't see.

The Department of Environmental Protection estimates that almost half of Pennsylvania homes are affected by radon.

As a result, DEP is encouraging homeowners to get their homes tested for radon and if levels are above recommendations, take steps to fix the problem.

Thursday's Smart Talk focuses on radon -- what it is, how to test for it and what to do if radon levels are too high.

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John Quigley and Robert Lewis

Our guests are Pennsylvania Secretary of the Department of Environmental Protection John Quigley and Robert Lewis, Program Manager of the Bureau of Radiation Protection with the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection.

Also, Steve Kemper, author of the newly published book, A Splendid Savage, The Restless Life of Frederick Russell Burnhamjoins us.  Burnham was a gold prospector and scout who fought

Savage cover.jpg

Apaches then went to Africa to find his fortunate and was a warrior there too.  Be sure to tune in.

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  • Steve img 2016-01-28 09:44

    I have heard that when radon mitigation that goes through the basement floor that when there are heavy rains there can be water in the basement. An engineer friend suggested using an air exchange unit.

    • Robert Lewis img 2016-01-29 10:16

      Steve: There should not be any water that would come into the basement from an installed radon system. The PVC pipes that do penetrate the floor are sealed, usually with urethane caulk. It provides for a very tight seal. The air exchange units are only used in very unique situations.

  • Kristin img 2016-01-28 09:44

    We had our house tested in the fall for radon on the middle floor. The test level read 4.7. How much of a risk is that on the spectrum? We are renting our property, and our landlord has a "radon clause" in his lease. Is the landlord legally required to have the house mitigated? Is this level risky enough to require a mitigation?

    Thanks!!

    • Robert Lewis img 2016-01-29 10:27

      Kristin: You have several questions. The risk is a function of both radon concentration and the time that you are exposed. Being a rental property and if you are not going to be there that long, the risks are fairly low. However, exposures are cumulative and this is only one exposure that you have received. You have obviously been exposed in other locations where you previously lived. I would suggest doing a year long test in your living area to see what your annual average is. If that result is greater than 4 pCi/L then I would encourage the landlord to take corrective actions to reduce that level. As far as I know the landlord is not legally required. The 4 pCi/L value established from the U.S. EPA is only a guideline, and does not carry the weight of law. There is also some information from the Environmental Law Institute that says landlords are usually responsible for keeping their properties in a safe and fit condition.

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2016-01-28 09:54

    Tanya emails…

    Six years ago, I tested our house and the testing was 21pCi/L. We had a radon mitigation system put in. The state this past year gave out free radon tests and I again tested. The test showed a level of 14 even with the mitigation. Thinking I may have not tested correctly, I tested just in the last two weeks.
    The level came back 7.6pCi/L with a 96 hour test.
    What do I do now?

    • Robert Lewis img 2016-01-29 10:30

      Tanya: I believe that we answered this on air. If you have a system installed and the levels are still above the 4 pCi/L value I would call back my radon mitigation contractor and have them look over the system. The radon levels are not always adequately reduced the first time. However, there are always additional steps that the contractor can do to get additional reduction.

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2016-01-28 09:55

    Sandra emails...
    I'm an advocate for radon remediation for existing homes, automatic remediation for new construction in known radon areas. New construction would add minimal cost, compared to existing buildings.

    When I bought my home in Lancaster, I tested immediately and found high radon rates. Remediation should have been a priority in my remodeling plan, rather than waiting 12 years to spend the $750 to have it fixed. Best money for safety I ever spent.

    • Robert Lewis img 2016-01-29 10:44

      Sandra: Totally agree! If I moved into a home I would immediately test for radon and have mitigation done if needed. If I was having a new home built I would work with my contractor to have a "passive system" installed during construction . A properly installed system may be more efficient and effective and will certainly be more ascetically pleasing to the new home and homeowners. Once you move into the new home, again have it tested immediately and then if need be, "activate" the passive system by installing a fan and several other items. Then do a final test after the fan is running to make sure you have good radon reduction.

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2016-01-28 09:56

    Glen emails…
    On a radon test report received late last year, the letter noted that the Pennsylvania DEP recommends a limit of 4.0. However, the letter notes that the level recommended for New York clients was 20 pCi/L, which is five times higher. Why this variance between these two states?

    • Robert Lewis img 2016-01-29 10:48

      Glen: Something wrong there. As far as I know the whole country goes by the EPA guideline value of 4 pCi/L. There was a time when Canada had a limit of 20 pCi/L. Could that be what was meant?

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2016-01-28 10:03

    Cynthia emails….
    We had our house mitigated for radon prior to buying it over 20 years ago. How often should we test for radon in our house AFTER the mitigation system has been installed? (have to admit we haven’t re-checked)

    • Robert Lewis img 2016-01-29 10:52

      Cynthia: After you have an active system installed it is recommended to have it re-tested every two years. This is done to make sure that the system is still controlling the radon as it was originally designed to do. Sometimes things can happen to the system or the house to cause changes and degradation of the performance. Sounds like you should do the test now.

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2016-01-28 10:12

    Faith provides the following information:

    National Radon Program Services
    1-800-767-7236
    Radon@asu.edu

  • Scott LaMar img 2016-01-28 11:11

    Scott ask...
    Hi, We had our house mitigated for radon prior to buying it over 20 years ago….how often should we test for radon in our house AFTER the mitigation system has been installed (have to admit we haven’t re-checked)

  • Scott LaMar img 2016-01-29 11:36

    Joe ask...
    How does cost of remediation change when there is a stone or dirt part of one’s basement and floating basement (gutter on sides of basement floor)?

    • Robert Lewis img 2016-01-29 15:55

      Joe: Both a dirt floor basement and/or a floating slab can both increase the cost of the installation, since both of those features need to be dealt with. The dirt floor would need to be covered in some manner using a vapor barrier or concrete depending on if there is foot traffic or not. The floating slab area is very often a major entry point for radon. This entire perimeter area would need to be sealed to prevent that entry. If water control is an issue a sump hole or floor drain may need to be added in an appropriate location.

  • agen herbal img 2016-01-29 20:12

    Thanks again for the post.Really thank you! Really Great

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  • agen herbal img 2016-01-29 20:15

    Obat Penyumbatan Tuba Falopi
    obat PCOS
    triflex capsule
    cordyceps plus capsule
    eye care softgel
    harga vig power capsule
    deep sea fish oil softgel
    Agen Resmi Green World
    Obat Kanker Kelenjar Getah Bening
    Cara pemesanan ganoderma plus capsule
    obat kanker rahim
    Obat Penyubur Kandungan Supaya Cepat Hamil
    obat kista ovarium
    Obat Agar Cepat Hamil
    kidney care capsule for women
    Obat Pelangsing Herbal
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