Medical Society of the State of New York passed a Resolution on Radon

The Medical Society of the State of New York passed a Resolution on Radon at their state-wide annual meeting yesterday, April 12, 2014 in Tarrytown, NY. It reads:

RESOLVED, That the Medical Society of the State of New York support policy that limits exposure to radon and its decay products which are known to cause primary lung cancer in non-smokers and to potentiate the likelihood of lung cancer in smokers; and be it further

RESOLVED, that the Medical Society of the State of New York support legislation the protects the public health by ensuring that New York State is committed to reducing sources of excess radon emission, and monitoring radon gas exposure levels to confirm that these radon gas levels do not exceed the recommended levels set by the Environmental Protection Agency.

In the past MSSNY has endorsed resolutions calling for moratoriums on gas drilling in tight shale deposits. This year the concern shifted to the radioactive elements found the gas itself. While the concern over radon is much broader then a concern over gas drilling, the physicians clearly had the radioactivity associated with gas drilling in tight sale deposits in mind when they passed their resolution. Some of the statements leading to the resolution proper make mention of the radon “inextricably linked” with the methane from the tight shale deposits, especially in the northeast. Others pointed to the potential exposure through the delivery systems, the decay products, and the shorter transit times.

Some examples:

WHEREAS, there is no safe exposure level of radon for public health protection

WHEREAS, Radon, which originates naturally in bedrock and shale, is inextricably combined with other natural gases sequestered in these subterranean reserves, and is therefore extracted in combination with natural gas

WHEREAS, due to geographic proximity of New York State to the Marcellus Shale region, there is significantly shorter transit time through local regional pipeline networks transporting radon-laced natural gas to NYS natural gas consumers thus resulting in the delivery of natural gas containing much higher concentrations of radon

As the threat of actual gas drilling subsides in the State, the public heath threats associated with the growing gas drilling infrastructure are now on the organization’s radar. Stay tuned.



Chris W. Burger

110 Walters Road

Whitney Point, NY 13862

(607) 692-3442

Consideration of Radiation in H/a/z/a/r/d/o/u/s/ /W/a/s/t/e/ Produced from/ / Horizontal Hydrof/r/a/c/k/i/n/g/ “



The Capitol Pressroom for May 24, 2012 | WCNY Blogs

The Capitol Pressroom for May 24, 2012 | WCNY Blogs.


The Governor promised to create a tax reform and fairness commission.   Today, two activists ask when he’ll be rolling it out.  Robert McKeon of TREND, Tax Reform Effort of Northern Dutchess & Ronald Deutsch of New Yorkers for Fiscal Fairness, both members of the Omnibus will join me.


Several groups who aren’t fans of the Cuomo administration’s education policies have formed a new coalition.  We speak with Nikki Jones of the Alliance for Quality Education & coalition member Doug Wyant, Jr.,  Superintendent of Schools, Hornell City School District about what they are pushing the Governor to do.


**warning**warning**math ahead**slow down**warning**warning**it’ll be okay**take a breath**


One of the reasons uranium 238 is considered so dangerous is that its half-life is 4.4 billion years.
In human practical terms, the stuff never goes away.


Radon, which is found in natural gas, has a half-life of almost 4 days (3.8).   This means that over 4 days, 50% of a unit of radon will be shed away.  In 8 days, 50% more will shed, leaving 25% of the original unit.    The EPA says the “airborne action level” (aka, the time to DO something) to trigger radiation clean-up is 4 picoCuries per liter.  This means in 4 days, 2 of those picoCuries of radon will dissipate.  After 8 days, 1 more of those picoCuries of radon will dissipate.


Most of the natural gas that arrives in the homes of people living in NYC travels for about a week up from the gulf coast allowing it to shed over half of its radiation.  What if New Yorkers start getting gas from the Marcellus?  The travel time is only ½ a day, not long enough for the radiation to shed.


What’s this mean?  Today we speak with two people who will explain this to us in lay language:  Attorney Jeff Zimmerman for Damascus Citizens for Sustainability, Inc. and NYH2O, Inc., and Dr. Larysa Dryszka, a former Director of Pediatrics at Holy Name Hospital as well as a steering committee member for the Damascus Citizens.


Posted in : Capitol Pressroom




Special Delivery? Spectra pipeline could bring radon to NYC stoves | Stop the Spectra Pipeline!

Special Delivery? Spectra pipeline could bring radon to NYC stoves | Stop the Spectra Pipeline!.

Radon in Natural Gas from Marcellus Shale By Marvin Resnikoff, Radioactive Waste Management Associates

Marcellus_Radon (application/pdf Object).

Radon in Natural Gas from Marcellus Shale
By Marvin Resnikoff, Radioactive Waste Management Associates
Executive Summary*
January 10, 2012
A significant public health hazard associated with drilling for natural gas in the Marcellus
Shale formation must be seriously investigated by the New York State Department of
Environmental Conservation (DEC). This hazard is from radioactive radon gas and the
potential for large numbers of lung cancer among natural gas customers. This issue,
which has been ignored in the DEC’s Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact
Statement, must be addressed in a revised Impact Statement and before DEC issues any
drilling permits.
Unlike present sources for natural gas, located in Texas and Louisiana, the Marcellus
Shale is considerably closer to New York consumers. In addition, the radioactive levels
at the wellheads in New York are higher than the national average for natural gas wells
throughout the US.
In this paper Radioactive Waste Management Associates calculates the wellhead
concentrations of radon in natural gas from Marcellus Shale, the time to transit to
consumers, particularly New York City residents, and the potential health effects of
releasing radon, especially in the smaller living quarters found in urban areas.
It is well known that radon (radon-222) is present in natural gas.1 Published reports by R
H Johnson of the US Environmental Protection Agency2 and C V Gogolak of the US
Department of Energy3 also address this issue. Radon is present in natural gas from
Marcellus Shale at much higher concentrations than natural gas from wells in Louisiana
and Texas.
Since radon is a decay product of radium-226, to calculate radon levels it is necessary to
know the concentrations of radium-226, Based on a USGS study4 and gamma ray logs
(also known as GAPI logs) that we have examined, the radium concentrations in the
* Great appreciation for the excellent assistance of Minard Hamilton, RWMA Associate
1 Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, Toxicological Profile for Ionizing Radiation and
U.S. National Research Council, Health, Risks of Radon and Other Internally Deposited Alpha-Emitters:
BEIR IV (National Academy Press, 1988)
2 Johnson,R.H. et al, “Assessment of Potential Radiological Health Effects from Radon in Natural Gas,”
Environmental Protection Agency, EPA-520-73-004, November 1973.
3 Gogolak, C.V., “Review of 222 Rn in Natural Gas Produced from Unconventional Sources,” Department
of Energy, DOE/EML-385, November 1980
J.S. Leventhal, J.G. Crock, and M.J. Malcolm, Geochemistry of trace elements in Devonian shales of the
Appalachian Basin, U.S. Geological Survey Open File Report 81-778, 1981
Radon in Natural from Marcellus Shale Page 2
Marvin Resnikoff, Ph.D. RWMA
Marcellus Shale is 8 to 32 times background. This compares to an average radium-226 in
surface soil in New York State of 0.81 picoCuries per gram (pCi/g)5
Using this range of radium concentrations and a simple Fortran program that simulates
the production of radon in the well bore, and transit to the wellhead, we calculate a range
of radon concentrations at the wellhead between 36.9 picoCuries per liter (pCi/L) to 2576
These wellhead concentrations in Marcellus shale are up to 70 times the average in
natural gas wells throughout the U.S. The average was calculated by R.H.Johnson of the
US Environmental Protection Agency in 1973 (pre-fracking) to be 37 pCi/L6 to a
maximum of 1450 pCi/L.
In addition, the distance to New York State apartments and homes from the Marcellus
formation is 400 miles and sometimes less. This contrasts with the distance from the
Gulf Coast and other formations which is 1800 miles. At 10 mph movement in the
pipeline, natural gas containing the radioactive gas, radon, which has a half-life of 3.8
days, will have three times the radon concentrations than natural gas originating at the
Gulf Coast., everything else being equal, which it is not..
Being an inert gas, radon will not be destroyed when natural gas is burned in a kitchen
We have examined published dilution factors and factored in numbers for average urban
apartments where the dilution factor and the number of air exchanges per hour are less
than those of non-urban dwellings. This analysis implies that the radon concentrations in
New York City and urban apartments is greater than the national average.
We assume a figure of 11.9 million residents affected. This figure is calculated in the
following manner: Based on US Department of Energy figures our calculations assume
4.4 million gas stoves in New York State. This figure is multiplied by 2.69 persons per
household to determine the number of residents affected: this number equals 11.9 million.
We calculate the number of excess lung cancer deaths for New York State. Our results:
the potential number of fatal lung cancer deaths due to radon in natural gas from the
Marcellus shale range from 1,182 to 30,448.
This is an additional number of lung cancer deaths due to radon from Marcellus Shale
over deaths from natural radon already impacting New York State homes and their
5 Myrick, T. E., et al. 1981. State Background Radiation Levels: Results of Measurements Taken During
1975-1979, ORNL/TM-7343, Oak Ridge, Tenn..
6 Johnson, Op cit.

The Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement produced by the New York
State Department of Environmental Conservation needs to be revised to take into account
this public health and environmental hazard. In the entire 1400 page statement there is
only one sentence containing the word “radon” and no consideration of this significant
public health hazard.
Further, NYDEC needs to independently calculate and measure radon at the wellhead
from the Marcellus Shale formation in presently operating wells before issuing drilling
permits in New York State. The present RDSGEIS should be withdrawn.

Local law prohibits even trace amounts of radiation in landfill Chenango Co. Jan 28, 2011

Local law prohibits even trace amounts of radiation in landfill

By: Melissa deCordova, Sun Staff Writer
Published: January 28th, 2011

PHARSALIA – A local law barring any radioactive materials from disposal at the Pharsalia Landfill would have to be changed if Chenango County decides to go into the business of accepting rock cuttings brought to the surface during the process of well drilling.

As more natural gas is being produced from the Herkimer Sandstone in the northern part of the county, lawmakers have been weighing the potential revenue from taking in the formation solids versus uncertainty about whether the deep subsurface rocks and soils will be too dangerous to dispose of safely.

The matter came to a head this fall when Norse Energy Inc., the energy company currently drilling in the towns of Smyrna, Plymouth and Preston, paid a laboratory to have a sample of cuttings tested for radiation. The results, which were shared with members of the Chenango County Public Works Committee last week, stated that radiation in the sample material was “declared undetected.”

However, Chenango County Department of Public Works Director Randy Gibbon said the 40-page lab document’s summary sheet proves there were “units of radiation” indicated because the gross beta and gross alpha tests were reported as ‘less than’ certain levels, but not zero.

“It doesn’t matter what the level. As long as there’s radiation at all, we can’t accept it with our local law,” he said.

More in-depth analysis of uranium 238, radium 226, thorium 232 and potassium, among other isotopes, would be required to cancel out electromagnetic energy, Gibbon added. But he said it most likely wouldn’t be a matter of Norse going back for more tests.

“You are never going to get zero,” he said.

Local Law No. 3 enacted back in 1989 prohibits radioactive waste in the county’s landfill. The law was later amended and made even more restrictive when parcels in Chenango County were being considered for a low level radioactive waste dump in the early 90s.

As a result, everything entering the Pharsalia Landfill, including cell cover and refuse from the county’s transfer stations in Norwich and Brisben, is first passed through a Geiger counter set at three times the background level for radiation.

The landfill’s Geiger counter was set at levels recommended by the New York State Department of Health, Gibbon said. The detection device has rejected loads of garbage twice through the years.

Norse contacted Gibbon to recommend a testing laboratory, and paid $2,000 to Upstate Laboratories for the analysis. A commercial hauler contracted to truck construction debris from Norse’s well sites invested in equipment specifically to handle the additional business.

Mike Holden, whose Whitney Point company has taken refuse off Norse’s well sites since 2007, said he invested “five figures” last summer to purchase new equipment for the tailings. He said he is still waiting to see which direction the county is going to go in.

“It would have been a great market for me and for the county, too,” he said.

Public Works Committee member Peter C. Flanagan, D-Preston, commented that the best place for the formation solids would be to leave them on site.

Town of Otselic Supervisor David J. Messineo warned that spreading them on the surface and enabling rain and surface water to mix in could leach the material’s radioactivity level to greater degrees.

“We have a huge aquifer in South Otselic to worry about,” he said.

City of Norwich Public Works Superintendent Carl Ivarson said the city’s water treatment plant would no longer accept leachate from the Pharsalia Landfill if the law were to change to permit radiation.

Extension director says landfill already accepts radioactive materials

By: Melissa deCordova, Sun Staff Writer
Published: February 7th, 2011
NORWICH – Radiation is already in the Pharsalia Landfill despite a local law intended to exclude it, says Cornell Cooperative Extension Director Ken Smith in a letter to the Chenango County Natural Gas Committee Jan. 31.
Smith’s claim contradicts what the county’s public works department director insisted during a meeting of town supervisors last month, that absolutely no radiation at any level was permitted in the landfill.
The Chenango County Public Works Committee was interpreting a recent laboratory analysis of drill cuttings from a Norse Energy well site in Smyrna. Using a testing company recommended by the county, Norse had invested in the screening as a precautionary measure.
“Regarding radioactive materials being admitted to the Chenango County Landfill, everything that has ever been delivered to the county landfill has contained radioactive materials, and everything that will ever be delivered to the Chenango County Landfill will contain radioactive materials,” said Smith in his letter to the gas advisory committee.
Even though the lab declared that radiation was undetected in the cuttings, Department of Public Works Director Randy Gibbon said some units were present as indicated by ‘less than’ arrows, but not zero. Gibbon backed up his refusal of the waste with Local Law No. 3, an ordinance enacted in 1989 and later amended in the early 90s when parcels in Chenango County were being considered for a low level radioactive waste dump.
And therein lies the misinterpretation. According to Smith, the local ordinance refers to radioactive waste as defined by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, or items that have become contaminated with radioactive material or have become radioactive through exposure to neutron radiation such as contaminated clothing, filters, equipment and tools, medical tubes and syringes and laboratory animal carcasses and tissues.
“I think that these are the sorts of materials that the supervisors intended to restrict. … I do not believe that it is the intent of Local Law Number 3 to prevent acceptance of all naturally radioactive material,” Smith said.
Based on the large number of jobs and increased revenues from Marcellus Shale development in Pennsylvania over the past two years, Smith said taking in the drilling solids could mean “significant economic importance to Chenango County.” Supervisors on the natural gas advisory committee have suggested using the material as cell cover at the landfill.
A private hauler from Whitney Point, that regulary contracts with Norse to take consturction debris from well sites, recently purchased trucking equipment to dispose of the cuttings. The loads could mean revenue for them, as well as for the county.
Smith also said tht the City of Norwich’s refusal to accept leachate from the landfill if formation solids were permitted is unrealistic, noting that every aquifer in Chenango County receives water leached through radioactive rock deposits.
“I think it may be important to make clear that all soil, water, and air naturally contain radioactive materials. Also, all plants and animals naturally contain radioactive materials,” he wrote.
In earlier conversations with this reporter, Smith said all residential water wells located north of state Rt. 20 in upstate New York are drilled in the Marcellus Shale formation (because it is much shallower there and outcrops in the town of Marcellus) with no public concern about radiation or heavy metal content in drinking water.
On a separate topic, during a recent Regional Natural Gas Committee meeting, it was clear that many in the audience were worried about the toxic effects of methane, the primary component in natural gas. Smith said methane, which is biologically inert, is a normal, non-toxic component of drinking water in many locations and that developing the natural gas deposits from shale poses no risk to the water or air.
“We all have methane in our digestive systems every day of our lives. One recent study in West Virginia found that methane was present in 70 percent of the drinking water wells tested,” he said.

Radon in Drinking Water | Radon | US EPA

Radon in Drinking Water | Radon | US EPA.

Public Health Standards for Radon in Drinking Water

EPA’s proposal for public health standards for radon in drinking water provided two options to States and community water systems for reducing radon health risks in both drinking water and indoor air quality, a unique multimedia framework authorized in the 1996 Amendments to the Safewater Drinking Water Act (SDWA).  Information about the proposed rule and information relating to the status of the rule can be found at

National Academy of Sciences (NAS) Report on Radon in Drinking Water “Risk Assessment of Radon in Drinking Water.”

A report released September 15, 1998, by the National Academy of Sciences is the most comprehensive accumulation of scientific data on the public health risks of radon in drinking water.  The report was required by the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA).  The NAS report (BEIR VI) issued earlier this year confirmed that radon is a serious public health threat.  This report goes on to refine the risks of radon in drinking water and confirms that there are drinking water related cancer deaths, primarily due to lung cancer.  The report, in general, confirms earlier EPA scientific conclusions and analyses for drinking water, and presents no major changes to EPA’s 1994 risk assessment.

Safe Drinking Water Hotline

Call toll free and speak with an Information Specialist Monday through Friday, 10:00 am to 4:00 pm eastern time at 1-800-426-4791. Local calls or International calls at (703) 412-3330. The Hotline is closed on Federal holidays, except Veteran’s Day. The Hotline is open on Veteran’s Day but closed the day after Thanksgiving.

The Safe Drinking Water Hotline telecommunications system provides only recorded messages in English and Spanish 24-hours a day, seven days a week at 1-800-426-4791. Local calls at (703) 412-3330. International calls at (703) 412-3330. Bilingual service is available. An introductory telephone message tells Spanish callers to leave a detailed message. Bilingual Information Specialists will return these calls. Write to The Safe Drinking Water Hotline, 4606M, 1200 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W., Washington, D.C. 20460.

About the Safewater Hotline and Services Available.

CDC – Radon and Drinking Water from Private Wells – Wells – Private Water Systems – Drinking Water – Healthy Water

CDC – Radon and Drinking Water from Private Wells – Wells – Private Water Systems – Drinking Water – Healthy Water.

Risk Assessment of Radon in Drinking Water

Risk Assessment of Radon in Drinking Water.

States Pursue Radon Limits in Drinking Water as EPA Action Lags

States Pursue Radon Limits in Drinking Water as EPA Action Lags.


Published: December 7, 2010

States are taking the lead with studying levels of radon in drinking water and air even as federal regulators lag, as a coincidence of geology and population density leaves some more at risk than others of suffering from the naturally occurring radioactive toxin.