Public Health Column: January is Radon Action Month
Public Health Column 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, dirtfloors, opening of a sump pump, in well-water supply, and from gaps around suspended floors and pipes.," Balduf said. "Any home can have high radon levels, 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 responsible for more than 20,000 lung cancer deaths per year. Radon is the leading second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States after smoking and the leading cause of lung cancer among non-smokers.
“However, because you can’t see or smell radon, people tend to downplay the health effects and ignore the possibility that there might be a silent killer in their homes” says Balduf.
Testing homes for elevated levels of radon is simple and inexpensive. Radon test kits can be purchased at local hardware and home improvement stores or directly from the New York State Department of Health website for $11 (click here).
If test results come back and the radon levels in your home are greater than 4 picocuries per liter of air [pCi/L], a certified radon mitigator can install a radon reduction system in your home.
To learn more about the Genesee County Radon Program, please call the department at 585-344-2580, ext. 5555, or visit here.