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January 4, 2019 - 4:09pm

Public Health Column: January is Radon Action Month

Public Health Colmun from the Genesee County Health Department:

January is Radon Action Month! Did you know that radon is a naturally occurring, radioactive gas? It has no smell, taste, or color. Radon forms from the breakdown of uranium in soil, rock, and water and circulates into the air you breathe.

When radon is formed under homes and buildings, it can penetrate through cracks in the foundation, leading to high levels of radon, especially in enclosed areas.

Sarah Balduf, Environmental Health director of Genesee and Orleans counties, explains how easily radon can seep into your home.

“Radon can enter your home through cracks in the foundation, walls, joints, dirt floors, opening of sump pump, in well-water supply, and from gaps around suspended floors and pipes. Any home can have high radonlevels, whether it is old or new, has a basement or is built on a slab.”

It is understandable how this colorless, odorless gas can go unnoticed. If high levels of radon in your home are undetected for an extended period of time, the risk for developing lung cancer can occur. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer. If you smoke and live in a home with high radon levels, your risk for developing lung cancer significantly increases.

Testing your home with a short term radon test kit is the quickest way to determine if there are high levels of radon present in your home. The Genesee County Health Department has an allotment of short-term test kits that are free of charge for Genesee County residents. These test kits are easy to use and contain basic instructions on how to receive the most accurate results when testing your home for radon.

“Testing your home for radon and taking action sooner rather than later could save the health of your family,” Balduf said. "Testing your home for radon is a simple process that is free of charge to Genesee County residents when you request a kit from the Genesee County Health Department."

If you do live outside of the county, inexpensive radon test kits can be purchased at hardware stores. If test results come back and the radon levels in your home are greater than 4 picocuries per liter of air [pCi/L], which is the “take action” level determined by the EPA, a certified radon mitigator can install a radon reduction system in your home. Take action against radon this January!

For more details about the program or to receive any of these services call the department at 585-344-2580.

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