Radon at Tahoe

Press Release
November 1, 2006

Radon Specialists to Speak at Meeting of Tahoe Architects

George Faggella, State of California Indoor Radon Program manager, and Jeff Miner, owner of Radon at Tahoe, will address T.E.A.S (Tahoe Engineers, Architects, and Surveyors) monthly meeting at Passaretti's on Wednesday, November 1, 2006 at Noon. They will discuss indoor radon and why it is a particular problem at Tahoe, how to reduce radon in new house construction (RRNC - Radon Resistant New Construction), and the major radon survey to be conducted in a three county area at Tahoe by the State of California Indoor Radon Program in November. EPA radon literature will be available at the meeting and each member of T.E.A.S will take home a radon test kit compliments of the Indoor Radon Program.

"We are pleased to be able to present information about radon to this group because architects and designers have a key role in helping new home owners decide what should or shouldn't be included in house design. Adding radon resistant measures while a house is being built is always easier and cheaper than adding it later" Miner said. George Faggella hopes that participation in the Tahoe Radon Survey will increase as information and radon awareness increase due to talks like these. The Tahoe Radon Survey will shortly be mailing about 5000 letters of information and recruitment to residents in a El Dorado, Placer, and Nevada Counties in the Tahoe area, County health officials along with County and City building officials have been invited to the meeting, however space limitations prevent the public from attending. Those wanting more information should go to , or

George Fagella has been managing the Indoor Radon Program since 12/4/2004. Previous to that he was with the Environmental Lab Accreditation Program for 4 years and Dept. of Fish and Game for about 10 years working in aquatic toxicology. He has an MS Degree from UC Davis in Water Science. The State Indoor Radon Program is a public outreach and education program with the main goal of reducing human exposure to indoor radon. The program provides free test kits to CA residents, maintains a webpage, maintains a registry of CA certified radon service providers, and conducts county screening programs to locate and map areas of high radon potential.

This fall (November hopefully) they will be conducting a screening of the South Lake Tahoe area covering parts of three counties El Dorado, Nevada, and Placer. South Lake Tahoe area was chosen because of historical data and the geology of the region. The South Lake Tahoe area is a prime area to promote Radon Resistant Construction because of the relatively high probability of having high indoor radon.

Jeff Miner is a 35 year resident of South Lake Tahoe who discovered high levels of radon gas in his Tahoe Paradise home just a few years ago (when he finally got around to testing his home!). After doing some research on how to fix his radon problem, he tackled the job as a do-it-yourself project and was able to reduce levels from 6 pC/l to 1 pC/l, well below the EPA Action Level of 4 pC/l. In the process of fixing his own house and learning about the EPA recommendations, he flew to Colorado Springs and took a week long certification class on radon testing and radon mitigation to learn to do the job right, and now runs a web site, The site's purpose is to inform others about testing for and eliminating radon from their homes and incorporating radon resistant techniques when they build a home and to provide radon books and electronic testers for sale.

With the help of George Faggella, he created a radon display at the El Dorado County Library for the month of April this year. He has been part of the Green Building Expo at the College. Jeff has a BS degree in business and an MBA. In the early '70s he and his wife Karen started Grass Roots Natural Foods at the "Y." He has worked for the Lake Tahoe Unified School District managing their computer department, and he currently runs a web page and consulting business.


Press Release
November 2, 2006

Radon specialists speak to Tahoe architects group

Mark Hoefer and the Tahoe Engineers, Architects and Surveyors (T.E.A.S.) group hosted California Radon Specialist, George Faggella, at their monthly lunch meeting at Passaretti's Restaurant on Wednesday, Nov. 1, 2006. About 18 members and guests were in attendance, including officials from El Dorado County Environmental Management, and from both city and county building departments. Jeff Miner, of Radon at Tahoe, opened the meeting by talking about why Tahoe should be considered a high risk radon area and how architects and designers can incorporate Radon Resistant New Construction (RRNC) techniques when they design homes in the Tahoe area. Mr. Faggella spoke about the dangers of radon in causing lung cancer and the potential of finding high readings in houses in the Tahoe area. He announced that his radon office under the California Department of Health Services (DHS) has picked Tahoe as the focus of their next intensive radon study. Letters inviting participation in the study will be mailed out to 9,000 residents in the Tahoe areas of El Dorado, Placer and Nevada counties in the next few weeks. Participants in the study will receive a free charcoal test kit which they leave open on a table on the first floor of their house, out of the way of drafts or open doors, for 3 days. They then seal the charcoal kit and mail it to the lab in the prepaid mailing envelope. The study is for demographic information only, so no addresses are associated with test results to maintain privacy. Participants will be informed of the test results so they can take action to reduce radon in their homes if the results are high.

Radon has been classified as a class I carcinogen by the Surgeon General, similar to tobacco smoke. And like tobacco smoke, it seems to cause cancer from small dosages over long periods of time, even decades. However, unlike tobacco smoke, radon is invisible and odorless, so you don't know if you are surrounded by high levels unless you test for it. Because living with higher levels of radon is known to be dangerous, the EPA has set 4 pC/l (picco Curries per liter is the common measurement for radon gas) to be the "action threshold." All houses with long range tests of 4 pC/l should be mitigated. It is interesting that you can't judge a house by a neighborhood. One house can have low levels of radon and the house directly across the street can have high levels. You can only know by testing. Three houses in one South Lake Tahoe neighborhood each tested 6 pC/l while the house across the street tested 17 pC/l.

The EPA estimates that about 23,000 people die each year in the United States from radon induced lung cancer, or about 60 a day. By recommending that all houses be tested in areas known to have high radon, Zone I areas, they hope people with high readings will be able to fix their houses, which is relatively easy to do. Tahoe is not yet officially a Zone I area because areas are assigned by county averages and Tahoe's typically high readings are diluted when combined with the West Slope's typically low radon test results. El Dorado County at the Lake, however, is just across the state line from Douglas County and Carson City, Nevada, both of which are Zone I counties. And recent test evidence shows that the Sierra Nevada granite rich soils have extremely high radon readings. A 1991 study found that the our own little Zephyr Cove had the highest percentage of homes (68%) over the EPA 4 pC/l action level, of any city in Nevada. Not all houses at Tahoe have high radon levels, in fact many would likely test below the EPA "fix it" level of 4 pC/l. However no level of radon is safe and the fix for existing houses is fairly simple and inexpensive ($1000 to $2000). Using RRNC (Radon Resistant New Construction) techniques on new houses can add as little as $500 to the cost of a home. Clearly more testing is needed to determine the average radon levels in the Tahoe area, and the Tahoe Radon Test survey by the State of California will be a big step in that direction. However, anyone not sent a test request can still take the test. California residents can get a free test kit by calling the California Radon Hot Line: 1-800/745-7236 E-mail: Website: The EPA has a great web site on radon at And for more information on radon at Tahoe, buying electronic radon testers or books on how to fix your house yourself, visit Organizations who would like to have a similar presentation should contact Jeff Miner at Radon at Tahoe: