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Tribal advocates keep up legal pressure for fair political maps; 12-member jury sworn in for Trump's historic criminal trial; the importance of healthcare decision planning; and a debt dilemma: poll shows how many people wrestle with college costs.

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Civil rights activists say a court ruling could end the right to protest in three southern states, a federal judge lets January 6th lawsuits proceed against former President Trump, and police arrest dozens at a Columbia University Gaza protest.

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Wyoming needs more educators who can teach kids trade skills, a proposal to open 40-thousand acres of an Ohio forest to fracking has environmental advocates alarmed and rural communities lure bicyclists with state-of-the-art bike trail systems.

Marylanders encouraged to test for radon this winter

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Tuesday, January 16, 2024   

January is National Radon Action Month, and officials are asking Marylanders to test their homes for the radioactive gas. After smoking, radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the U.S. Radon is produced by the breakdown of uranium in the soil, it's invisible, has no smell or taste, and must be detected with a kit or specialized equipment.

In Maryland, nearly 21% of radon test results were at or above the EPA action level. The EPA recommends homes with radon measurements above 4 picocuries per liter of air have mitigation equipment installed.

John Swett, owner operator of Radon Abatement Services in Kensington, said mitigation creates a void under the house to divert radon before it enters the structure.

"The main engine driving radon into houses is the natural vacuum that all structures create on the soil," he explained. "It's called thermal stack effect. So radon doesn't just passively seep into the house, it's actively sucked in by that vacuum and the radon systems basically reverse that and pull it out before it can get sucked into the house."

He added in most homes with a slab foundation, mitigation equipment installation costs between $800 and $1,600.

Radon can also be present in groundwater and experts say homes on wells should also be testing their water for radon.

"Radon in water is mostly an issue with what it contributes to your overall radon in air levels," Swett continued. "So when the water is aerated, like when it's released in the house, at your kitchen, your laundry, your bathrooms, what radon is released from the water into the air, that's what poses the main risk."

The EPA estimates that of the cancer deaths attributable to radon in water, 89% are from lung cancer and 11% from stomach cancer due to ingesting water containing radon. The agency has not established an action level for radon in water.


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