223566 Comparison of radon levels in Energy Star homes and non-Energy Star homes

Monday, November 8, 2010

Derry Stover, MPH , Office of Environmental Hazards & Indoor Air, Nebraska Department of Health & Human Services, Lincoln, NE
Chandran Achutan, PhD , College of Public Health, University of Nebraska Medical Center, Omaha, NE
Sara Morgan, MA , Office of Environmental Hazards & Indoor Air, Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services, Lincoln, NE
Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the U.S. and the leading cause of lung cancer in non-smokers. Most exposures to radon occur when radon-containing soil gases infiltrate and accumulate in homes. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates lung cancer death risk from a lifetime exposure of 4 picocuries per liter (pCi/L) to be 2.3% for the entire population. Approximately 56% of homes tested in Nebraska have radon levels higher than 4 pCi/L. While there are several methods to reduce indoor radon levels, there is interest in incorporating these methods into new home construction. A graduate research study is currently testing this hypothesis by measuring radon levels in more than 50 Energy Star and non-Energy Star homes. We are partnering with a large homebuilder in Omaha, Nebraska, who has been building its homes to Energy Star standard. This standard requires homes to meet strict guidelines for energy efficiency. The homebuilder's preliminary data suggests that radon levels in their Energy Star homes are lower than in non-Energy Star homes. It is anticipated that radon levels will be lower in Energy Star homes due to energy-efficient features that prevent radon gas from entering the home. This study will be the first of its kind to characterize radon levels in Energy Star and non-Energy Star homes. The public health significance of our results will be an increase in our understanding of how energy-efficient building practices influence indoor radon levels, and thus, develop strategies to reduce human exposure to this deadly gas.

Learning Areas:
Environmental health sciences
Other professions or practice related to public health
Public health or related research

Learning Objectives:
1. Compare radon levels in two different types of homes. 2. Describe the temporal variations of radon levels in Energy Star and non-Energy Star homes. 3. Discuss how different home construction techniques influence indoor radon levels.

Keywords: Indoor Environment, Radiation

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am a Masters of Public Health student studying Environmental and Occupational Health at a ASPH-member university.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.