USEPA Recognizes National Radon Action Month: Test for Radon Gas to Protect Health
21,000 Americans die from radon related lung cancer each year
The United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) is encouraging Americans this January, as part of National Radon Action Month, to take simple and affordable steps to test their homes for harmful levels of radon gas. Radon, a colorless odorless gas, is the leading cause of lung cancer among non-smokers. Radon can seep into a home from underground and if left to accumulate, high levels of radon can cause lung cancer. Improving indoor air quality by increasing awareness of environmental health risks, such as radon gas, supports healthier homes and communities.
“Testing for radon is an easy and important step in protecting the health of your family,” said Gina McCarthy, USEPA Assistant Administrator for the Office of Air and Radiation. “Radon can be found in every single state. Nationally, elevated radon levels are in as many as one in 15 homes – a statistic that is even higher in some communities.”
Approximately 21,000 people die from radon related lung cancer each year in the United States, yet elevated levels of this health hazard can be prevented through these simple steps:
Radon is a natural, radioactive gas that comes from the breakdown of uranium in soil, rock and water. It can enter homes through cracks in the foundation or other openings such as holes or pipes. In addition to testing for radon, there now are safer and healthier radon-resistant construction techniques that home buyers can discuss with builders to prevent this health hazard.
In 2011, USEPA announced the Federal Radon Action Plan, along with General Services Administration and the Departments of Agriculture; Defense; Energy; Health and Human Services; Housing and Urban Development; Interior; and Veterans Affairs. This action plan will demonstrate the importance of radon risk reduction, address finance and incentive issues to drive testing and mitigation, and build demand for services from industry professionals.
More information on how to Test, Fix, Save a Life, obtain a text kit, or contact your state radon office: http://www.epa.gov/radon or call 1-800-SOS-RADON
More information on the Federal Radon Action Plan: http://www.epa.gov/radon/action_plan.html
NJDEP Urges All Homeowners To Test for Radon
Homeowners in New Jersey are being advised by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) to check this month for an unwanted visitor to your premises: namely colorless, odorless, and tasteless radon, a naturally occurring gas that could seep into your home without a warning, and which could cause cancer.
Governor Chris Christie has pronounced January as Radon Action Month in New Jersey, as part of a national effort to call attention to the potential dangers of radon, and to encourage home and apartment owners to check this month for presence of radon via a simple and low-cost test.
“This is all about the health and safety of you and your family,” said NJDEP Commissioner Bob Martin. “Through an easy and inexpensive test, the level of radon exposure in homes, apartments, schools, and other buildings can be determined. It’s worth the cost and effort.”
Radon is a radioactive gas that results from the breakdown of naturally occurring uranium in soil and rock. Low levels of uranium occur widely in the Earth’s crust, and can be found in all 50 states.
Radon enters buildings through openings that are in contact with the ground, such as cracks in the foundation, sump pits, and small openings around pipes. Radon decays into radioactive particles that can get trapped in your lungs when you breathe, which could damage lung tissue and lead to lung cancer due to prolonged radon exposure.
The New Jersey Radon Potential Map shows that the northwest part of the State, particularly Sussex, Warren, Morris, Somerset and Hunterdon counties, plus sections of Mercer and Monmouth counties, have the highest radon concentrations. But radon is also found in more moderate levels in many other counties, too.
The federal USEPA estimates radon causes 21,000 deaths annually. The Surgeon General has warned that radon is the number one cause of lung cancer in non-smokers, and second leading cause of lung cancer after cigarette smoking. For these reasons, the NJDEP is encouraging homeowners to test their homes for radon and take appropriate action to deal with high radon levels.
The NJDEP and USEPA both recommend that you take action to mitigate your home if test results indicate radon levels of 4 pCi/L (4 picocuries per liter) of radon or more. Even residents in moderate and low radon potential areas should test their homes.
Residents can test for radon themselves or hire a New Jersey certified radon measurement business to perform the testing. Check with your local health department to find out if they provide either free or low-cost radon test devices.
Devices also are available from certified radon measurement businesses through mail order, and test devices are often available in hardware stores. If the device is purchased at a retail store, make sure the kit is labeled with the New Jersey certification number of the company that produced the test kit (the number will begin with “MEB9” followed by 4 digits). If you hire a contractor to conduct the test, make sure the technician who places and picks up the test device is certified by the State.
Lists of New Jersey certified testing and mitigation businesses and general radon information are available at www.njradon.org or call the Radon Section Information Line at (800) 648-0394 or (609) 984-5425.
To access the New Jersey Radon Potential Map, visit: www.njradon.org/radonin.htm