Monday, December 22, 2008

So you want to by a House?...Part 6 - Radon

This is one of the craziest things with the USEPA I have ever dealt with and I as I said before, I could be wrong, but I think something stinks with this one (no radon has no odor). For many years the USEPA has been looking for a way to explain non-cigarette related lung cancers, they did this epidemiological study on lung cancer among uranium miners in Grand Junction, Colorado. They did this because there were a significant number of non- smokers in the mine (Native American, primarily). So in 1989 they began trying to establish regulation regarding radon and they have an established limit for radon in air of 4 picocurries per liter of air. What they finally did a couple of years ago was to pass the data off to the National Science Foundation who suggested that there could be a link to lung cancer, but that the main issue was still smoking. I have a hard copy of that review, I can not find it on the web any more since the USEPA has gone on their radon campaign. The USEPA passed the buck to the states and said you have to regulate water and gave them money to do so. There is a general guidance document that says 5,000 picocuries per liter of water is a recommended limit for private consumption and 300 in a municiple water supply. Up to last year, the state of Connecticut website had all the conflicting info concerning the issue. That has been removed since the USEPA money came down. One of the most interesting piece of epidimelogical work that I have seen was something done by the state of Washington which should and inverse relationship with the number of lung cancers and radon levels in water. The biggest issue I have is that the incidence of non-smoking lung cancers has not been related to actual radon exposure levels. As an environmental investigator, I find ths completely distasteful and wrong. Now it has started a whole new buisness of radon mitigation, but it has also put home buyers and homeowners in a difficult situation. If it is shown not to be a real issue, then homeowners will have pent useless money and new homebuyers can not take the chance that it will not be an issue for the future. Truth my not prevail in this case, but the recommendation that everyone get the level of radon in the air check is sound because it will allow a true epidemilogical study on tradons part in lung cancer.
Now radon is an item that does impart radioactive particles (Radon 222 releases alpha particles and Radon 224 releases beta) and so the chance that this is a carcigan exists, but the pulling scotch tape realeases X-rays and that is more significant.
So I say I could be wrong...
First the epidemiglogical study needs to be done and that will tell us everything. Next I have been wrong about things before. When?
Well when we had a very proactive Health director concerning lead, lead standards and abatement and he wanted to drop or level of lead in dry paint from the national level of 0.5% to 0.06%. I actually fought him on it because there was no evidence to support it. We then had a single case where the level of chewed paint was between those two numbers and the child's lead leval was significant. Now I realized that that was an acute situation and may not have had a lasting effect on the lead level in the child, but it did not matter, the level was high , even for a short time and I became an ardent supporter of that more stringent level.
So until the data supports the conclusions that have been drawn, I remain very skeptical.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Sewage in the Environment! Bad or Good?

As I appear to get sharper and more on top of things, there are more things to talk about in the environment. The Greenwich sewage spill. Greenwich has a lot of problems with their infrastructure regarding the the sewer lines. They don't have some one like Stamford does in the person of Jennette Brown who is obsessed (in a very positive way) with treating sewage. Their problems (along with the towns upstream) have kept Byram Beach on a very precarious "open" status. But do I think this is necessarily bad, No! Truth is for many years, there was no swimming in the winter because the treatment plant just let the sewage flow out untreated into the Sound. Now I know everyone is going "yuck" right now, but it actually provided for the nutrient base for an incredible fishing hatchery in the sound and while this was going on, there was no hypoxia! The balancing act of nature absorbed all those nutrients and produced, surprise, fish! Now I will admit, according to the theory that I proposed a few posts ago, it also created the ground work for the problems we now have. anaerobic bacteria working full tine to produce the toxic H2S. So in light of my previous post concerning the late rain, there might be an added benefit from this sewer break and fisher people might have a positive surprise this coming spring. Of course I do not recommend releasing untreated sewage into the sound due to the disease issues, but there are ways to deal with the diseases before the stuff whits the fan, so to speak.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Rain and its effects

I actually loved the rain we got last night for many, many reasons.
1- this rain usually happened in the early fall, not the late and that means we might get a break for the winter.
2- there were still lots of leaves going into the gutters and storm drains.

why am I happy about this? To me it means lots of carbon and nitrogen going into the sound when it is cold, so the dissemination of food to the criters down in Long Island Sound will be a slow process and that is usually the best kind. There is one possible issue, something I discussed in the Eureka moment a few months back. The stuff won't be used for foo, instead the chemical decomposition will occur making it not food, but a poison, H2S. So am I write? If my Eureka moment is true , the Sound will be very dead this spring. I am waiting....

So I get to watch a discovery channel program yesterday and it completely verified everything Art Glowka and I have been saying in a round about way...The Long Island Sound part of the USEPA is killing the Long Island Sound by trying to clean it up.
The story was the testing of a theory, bringing up bottom nutrients from the ocean floor and suspending them in the area photosynthesis occurs. The purpose was to test a method of disposing of carbon, reducing the effects of CO2. The experiment worked for 18 hours before unraveling and failing, but in 18 hours it increased the level of plankton and therefore plankton eaters (IE. fish) by a huge proportion.
So by an inverse collalary, the more you stop nutrients from going into a body of water, the less plankton and plankton eater you will have. Meaning you will have less fish. And that really is what has happened in the Long Island Sound. Take notice USEPA, you have been 'busted' by the discovery channel!