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Protect Yourself & Your Family from Radon

Protect Yourself & Your Family from Radon, January is Radon Awareness Month

Each of us is exposed to a certain amount of radiation each day, most of which comes from natural sources such as radon. Radon accounts for the largest percentage -- more than half -- of radiation exposure that the average person in the United States receives.

What is Radon?

Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas that is odorless, tasteless, and colorless.  Radon gas is found throughout the world in varying concentrations. Radon forms naturally from the radioactive decay of Uranium in rock, soil, and water.  When radon gas is formed, it migrates through the soil to the air above.

Why is Radon Harmful?

Radon breaks down into solid particles know as radon decay products. These decay particles can become trapped in the lungs and may damage tissue by emitting radiation. Over time, exposure to elevated levels of radon increases a person's risk of developing lung cancer. This is the only known health effect. For smokers, this lung cancer risk is even higher.

Can Radon Enter My Home?

The major source of radon in a home comes from the ground beneath it. Radon moves up through the soil and enters through cracks and holes in the foundation. Radon gas can become trapped in a home and build to unhealthy levels. Radon can also enter a home through the water supply. Radon can be released into the air during showers and other household uses. However, radon from the water supply is most often minimal compared to ground sources. Any home can have a radon problem, including newly built, well-insulated, and homes with or without a basement.

Should I Test My Home for Radon?

The U.S. Surgeon General recommends that all homes be tested for radon. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends taking a short-term test first that take from two to 90 days and allow for quick results.  If your short-term results come back between 4 and 8pCi/L, the EPA suggests following up with a long-term test to confirm your results.  Long-term tests run from 91 days to a year and can offer a more accurate measurement.  If your short-term results come back over 8 pCi/L, perform another short-term test to confirm the results.

RECOMMENDATION: If your test results are 4 pCi/L or higher, the EPA recommends that you take immediate measure to lower radon levels in your home.

Testing Your Home for Radon

To determine if you have high levels of radon in your home, you have a couple options:

 

  • Hire a Radon Measurement Company to Test Your Home
  • Perform a Radon Measurement Test Yourself: Radon detectors are inexpensive and easy to install. They are generally available in two types: alpha track detectors, which are used for long-term measurements, and charcoal canisters, which are used for short-term measurements. These devices are placed in living areas for a specific time period and then are sent to a laboratory for analysis. Before purchasing, verify that the radon detector meets the current requirements of the national certifying organizations such as the National Radon Safety Board (NRSB) or the National Environmental Health Association (NEHA) and is approved by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Where Can I Purchase Radon Detectors?

Link here for contact information and a list of measurement companies that can provide radon kits and/or perform radon measurement services in Oregon. You can also purchase a radon measurement test kit from your local hardward or home improvement stores.

The American Lung Association of Oregon provides test kits for a cost that includes shipping the test results to a laboratory and laboratory results being mailed back you. Click here to learn more. 

Please note that Portland Fire & Rescue does not have radon kits for purchase or donation.

  

What If the Test Reveals High Level of Radon?

The important thing is not to panic.  Radon levels can fluctuate widely over time.  Reducing radon levels in your home requires technical knowledge and skill, and typically involves hiring a radon mitigation contractor.

The most common approach to mitigating a radon problem is referred to as sub-slab depressurization or sub-slab suction. This technique draws radon-filled air from beneath the foundation through a pipe using a fan, and vents the radon outside. Sealing cracks and holes in the foundation makes this technique more effective.

Click here for a list of mitigation companies servicing Oregon that have been certified by NEHA or NRSB. Current listings of certified companies can also be found at their respective web sites, www.neha-nrpp.org and www.nrsb.org.

Resources

Link here to the State of Oregon's Radiation Protection Services - Radon Gas official website for additional radon information and resources. 

A PORTLAND RESIDENT ESCAPES A MORNING HOUSE FIRE ON NEW YEARS DAY

A PORTLAND RESIDENT ESCAPES A MORNING HOUSE FIRE ON NEW YEARS DAY (14021 SE Main St.)

Date-01/01/2013

This morning at 3:45am Portland Fire & Rescue crews were called to a house on fire at 14021 SE Main St. When firefighters arrived they found heavy fire burning in a front room. Firefighters from Engine 7 (Mill Park) entered the house and began attacking the fire. At the same time the crew of the ladder truck searched for victims and cut a hole in the roof to ventilate flammable fire gases.

The fire was quickly extinguished and the homes resident was located at a neighbors house. The adult male had escaped before firefighters arrived, although he was forced to climb out of a window. The man stated that he woke up to the sound of a smoke alarm. He then opened his door and saw that his exit was blocked by fire. The resident then closed the door and exited through the window.

The Red Cross will be providing shelter for the man as the house is uninhabitable due to the fire damage. Fire investigators were called to the scene and determined that the fire was caused by lights in the Christmas tree. Investigators estimate that the fire caused $25,000 in damage. Investigators also say that the resident saved the portion of the house that he was in by closing the door.

Portland Fire & Rescue reminds residents to have working smoke alarms in their homes: on every level, in all sleeping rooms and outside every sleeping area. Without a working smoke alarm this man might not have escaped.

Ringing in the New Year Safely

Please celebrate safely this New Years Eve by following these guidelines provided by Portland Fire & Rescue.

Celebrating at Home

  • Test your smoke alarms and ensure that you have one on every floor and in every sleeping area.
  • Ensure that fire extinguishers are in good working order and familiarize yourself with their use by reading instructions.
  • Anything that produces an open flame should be operated and monitored by a sober adult.
  • Keep heat sources well away from combustibles, children and pets.
  • Ensure that your guests are aware of your home fire escape plan.

 

Going Out

  • Don’t drink and drive.  Create a transportation plan using a designated driver, public/private transportation or walk.
  • Dress for the weather.  Temperatures tonight are expected to be below freezing and lines may be long to get into the venue of your choice.
  • When you arrive at the venue check to ensure that all exit ways are clear of obstruction and open to the exterior.
  • Identify a safe place (outside of the venue) to meet in case of emergency.
  • Locate the nearest exit to you and be prepared to use it.  In an emergency, people often return to the place where they entered.  The main entrance/exit can quickly become over-crowded.
  • In the event of alarm or any indication of an emergency exit the building immediately, proceed to your safe place.

PORTLAND FIRE & RESCUE HANDLES A HAZARDOUS MATERIALS SPILL AND A RESIDENTIAL FIRE.

PORTLAND FIRE & RESCUE HANDLES A HAZARDOUS MATERIALS SPILL AND A RESIDENTIAL FIRE.

It was a busy morning for fire crews in North and Northeast Portland.

This Morning at 3:28 am firefighters were called to 9026 NE 13th Ave. for a hazardous materials spill. Reports indicate that a forklift punctured a container holding 240 gallons of weed killer. Firefighters arrived, assessed the situation and worked to ensure that the leak was contained until a hazardous materials cleanup company arrived and took over. No one was injured and the leak was contained to the immediate area.

 

While the leak was still being mitigated fire crews were called to a house on fire at 8330 N. Chautauqua Blvd. When they arrived, firefighters found heavy smoke coming from a vacant, single story house. Firefighters entered and began searching for the fire, but they quickly encountered conditions consistent with "Hoarding". Firefighters had to fight through significant clutter while trying to locate the fire. The fire was found in the basement, on the first floor and in the attic.

Fire commanders made the call to switch from offensive (interior) to defensive (exterior) operations, siting the increased danger posed by the hoarding and the fact that the house was vacant. A majority of the fire has been extinguished at this point but firefighters will be on scene for most of the day assisting with the investigation.

No injuries were associated with this fire. Fire investigators are on scene and will be working throughout the day to determine the fires cause. Damage estimates will be made available as they are determined.

Portland Fire & Rescue reminds residents that resources are available and should be utilized if you or someone you know suffers from Compulsive Hoarding Syndrome. According to the Mayo Clinic hoarding is the obsessive collection of items, along with the inability to discard them.

Hoarding can lead to the increased likelihood of fires as combustible items have a greater chance of contacting heat sources. Fires in hoarder houses are also more severe as the amount of combustible material is usually greater.

Resources:

Community Resource Database-

Call 211

Online-http://211info.org 

Text your zip code to 898211.

Mental Health Crisis Line-

 (503)988-4888

IMPROPER ELECTRICAL WIRING CAUSES AN APARTMENT FIRE IN EAST PORTLAND

IMPROPER ELECTRICAL WIRING CAUSES AN APARTMENT FIRE IN EAST PORTLAND

At 10:06 pm on Christmas Eve firefighters from Portland Fire & Rescue were called to an apartment fire at 15904 E. Burnside. Firefighters arrived and found fire in two apartments (one was directly above the other). The fire was difficult to extinguish because it was burning in the walls and had extended into the attic.

Firefighters determined that the occupants of both apartments had gotten out safely. The fire was extinguished, however due to the damage to the apartments the residents will be displaced. The American Red Cross will be assisting the residents with shelter. Three adults and one child lived in one apartment, while the other was home to two adults and one infant. Fortunately most of the residents belongings were saved as the majority of damage was to the structure.

Fire investigators were called to the scene and determined that the fire was caused by improper wiring. Investigators estimate damages at $60,000. This was a single alarm fire.

Portland Fire & Rescue reminds residents to ensure that all wiring is installed by a licensed electrician and properly inspected.