What if Your Building Has Slag in It
The Phosphorus Slag Technical Work Group recommends the following action options for reducing individual radiation dose. The options start with the easiest and least expensive and range up to the most difficult and costly. It is the Technical Working Group's view that simpler and easier options are more appropriate for lower doses, while more costly options would be more appropriate at higher doses.
No Action - Scientific opinion differs about how much low-level radiation an individual can be exposed to without harm. The possibility exists that there may be a threshold level of radiation exposure below which there are no adverse health effects. Consequently, exposure to natural background radiation levels may not pose any health risks. However, current evidence suggests that exposure to radiation at very low levels may pose some risk of cancer.
Education and Counseling - Education and counseling would include a balanced discussion of radiation risk and radiation protection measures. This would include exploring the range of possible actions that could be taken to reduce an individual's dose, such as possible changes in use patterns - like spending less time in the basement.
Attrition - Attrition means removing slag once a structure's useful life has ended. This would involve listing the building on the phosphorus slag inventory and subsequent removal of the slag to an appropriate disposal location when the building is demolished.
Modification of Use - Space that contributes to radiation dose would be converted to an alternative use in order to reduce the amount of time that individuals spend in a space where slag significantly contributes to individual dose.
Remodeling, Shielding, or Partial Removal - This option involves reducing exposure through physical changes to the building either through removal or shielding of the slag areas.
Additional Living Space - This option would provide additional living space to replace areas that contribute to an elevated dose. For example, a new bedroom could be built onto a home to replace a basement bedroom.
The Technical Working Group anticipates that cost-effective risk reduction options will be considered on a case-by-case basis, and each homeowner will have an opportunity to discuss any specific concerns with a radiation risk professional.
How will it be determined that something must be done to reduce my exposure to gamma radiation?
If the more extensive measurements indicate that slag is present in your building, the District Health Department will present you with a copy of the Technical Work Group's recommendations for reducing your exposure to the slag. But you will make the decision about whether anything will be done, and if so, what will be done. No one will force you to do anything you don't want to do.
What if I do want to reduce my exposure according to the Technical Work Group's guidelines? Some of the options look costly. Who will pay for that?
FMC and Monsanto have agreed to pay.
Southeast Idaho Phosphorus Slag Homepage