#219 #48in48 #Science #Radon

I read this article on radioactive waste from fracking being dumped illegally:

State Finalizes $95K Fine for Radioactive Dump at Landfill

17 hours ago

State officials have finalized an agreement with an eastern Kentucky disposal company that illegally dumped low-level radioactive fracking waste from West Virginia.

The state Energy and Environment Cabinet says it has signed an agreed order that proposed a $95,000 civil penalty for Advance Disposal Services Blue Ridge Landfill in Estill County. The agreement was proposed in October.

The state cabinet’s investigation revealed that 92 loads of waste were illegally brought from West Virginia to the Blue Ridge site in violation of state law. The waste is classified as “technologically enhanced naturally occurring radioactive materials.”

The agreement requires Blue Ridge to deposit $60,000 of the fine into an escrow account for the Estill County School District to pay toward the detection and mitigation of naturally occurring radon or establishing educational programs related to environmental sciences.

 

I can remember (as a kid) my Ma talking about Radon and having to buy a testing kit because of some issue or newspiece that came up in Fayette County.  Because of that memory and this article, I thought I would look up a few things on Radon and it is more than concerning to me.

Radon is a cancer-causing radioactive gas. You cannot see, smell or taste radon, but it may be a problem in your home. The Surgeon General has warned that radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States today. If you smoke and your home has high radon levels, you’re at high risk for developing lung cancer. Some scientific studies of radon exposure indicate that children may be more sensitive to radon. This may be due to their higher respiration rate and their rapidly dividing cells, which may be more vulnerable to radiation damage.

According to a Mercola website, it appears that radon in homes is a common thing.  It can come f=from a number of sources.  Air circulating in your home from outside.  Or building materials such as:

  • Silicone-rich magmatic rocks, granite, and especially the more exotic granites like the red, pink and purple varieties
  • Gypsum waste products
  • Cement and concrete
  • Pumice
  • Basaltic rock

Certain smoke detectors, some clocks and some watches emit small amounts of radon. If you own a new or relatively new watch with a luminous dial, it probably contains either Tritium, a radioactive form of hydrogen, or Promethium, a man-made radioactive element. Both elements emit small amounts of radon, and while most of it is contained in the cover of the watch, there is still a minimal risk associated with having luminous watches around.

If you happen to own a World War I vintage “glow in the dark” clock or watch, be aware that highly radioactive radium was used to make the luminous paint for the dials. Wearing such watches, and certainly repairing them, poses a significant risk of radon exposure.

If you’re wondering what makes radon so dangerous, it’s the breakdown products, also known as radon progeny or the daughter products of radon, that can cause disease. These are a series of solid elements including lead-214, polonium-214 and polonium-218, which give off alpha particles of radiation. Alpha particles, unlike gamma radiation, cannot penetrate the tissues of your body from the outside. However, when inhaled or ingested, these low-dose radioisotopes accumulate in the body and exert chronic damaging effects to the DNA of your cells which contributes to a wide range of diseases, most notably cancer.

For those of you living in West Virginia, there is a chart that lays out which areas of the state have a higher probability of radon exposure – Click Here

So, the fine assessed in this article, the $95,000, will go in a fund so a school in the area of the illegal dump can test their soil and school grounds on a regular basis to make sure their children are not exposed to this radioactive material. According to the website of the company that was assessed the fine:

Blue Ridge Landfill is an MSW landfill that was started in 1984. The facility is permitted by the Kentucky Department of Environmental Protection and has no volume limit by permit. The facility currently accepts 550 tons per day average. Municipal Solid Waste, Construction and Demolition Debris, Municipal and Industrial Sewage Sludge’s, Special Waste’s, Contaminated Soils, and residual wastes are received for disposal. The facility offers solidification as an additional service. At current volumes the facility has airspace to 2037. Blue Ridge Landfill has received one violation over the past 5 years.
 
Blue Ridge Landfill has a 1,600 kilowatt electrical generation plant that puts power out to the local electric grid – powering approximately 958 homes daily.
 
The facility is included in several Solid Waste Plans and has contracts with Municipal and Industrial, Residual waste generators in KY and surrounding states. Blue Ridge is permitted to accept waste from all counties in Kentucky as well as Indiana, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Georgia, North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, Michigan, Ohio, Tennessee, South Carolina, and accepts waste from Advanced Disposal subsidiaries and third party companies.

 

On their website, the have a page titled “Mother Earth” which appears to be intended for educational purposes. It has links for teachers and topics like “Let’s talk trash.”

 

Pulling from another website:

Radon is the number one cause of lung cancer among non-smokers. It is a radioactive gas which comes from the natural decay of uranium in soil, rock and water and gets into air we breathe. It typically moves up through the ground to the air above and into homes through cracks and other holes in the foundation. Radon from soil gas is the main cause of problems. Sometimes radon enters the home through well water. In a small number of homes, the building material can give off radon too.

The articles being pulled up seem to primarily come out of Pennsylvania where a study was performed on areas close to fracking.  Information from Johns Hopkins and a link for the study can be found here: http://www.jhsph.edu/news/news-releases/2015/increased-levels-of-radon-in-pennsylvania-homes-correspond-to-onset-of-fracking.html

So, are YOU familiar with radon?  If so, tell me what you know in the comments below….

radon_gas-hi-res_eng

 

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