Public Health Column: Radon gas poses risks
Press release from the Genesee County Health Department:
Radon gas is a naturally occurring colorless, odorless gas that results from the breakdown of uranium in the soil and water which can cause lung cancer when exposed to high levels over a period of years. The risk for disease increases if you are a cigarette smoker.
Radon can enter any building, new or old, with dozens of counties in New York identified by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as “red zones” which have the highest potential and predicted average indoor radon screening levels.
Radon can enter a building several ways, including:
- Cracks in concrete slab
- Pores and cracks in concrete blocks
- Slab-footing joints
- Exposed soil
- Cracks between poured concrete and blocks
- Loose pipe fittings
“Testing your home with a short-term radon test kit is an easy and quick way to determine if you are exposed to dangerous levels of the gas. Whether you are purchasing a new house or would like to test your current home, testing is an important safety measure,” said Environmental Director, Sarah Balduf.
To test your home, the EPA recommends placing a test kit in lowest level of the house that you most use (i.e. if you frequently use the basement, place the kit there. If not, use the first floor). Do not place a test kit in the kitchen or bathroom. The specific type of kit will determine how long to leave the kit in place, but can range from two days to one year. Short term test kits are a good starting point and are deployed in a home for two to seven days, while a long-term test kit can be deployed for up to a year.
Once the test time has ended, reseal the package and send it in to be analyzed per the instructions. Typically test kits are available through the New York State Department of Health, some County Health Departments or your local hardware stores. The Genesee County Health Department Radon Program offers short-term radon test kits for residences in Genesee County, as well as educational materials and in-services on the danger of radon, prevalence and mitigation options for new or existing homes which are all available at no charge.
For more details about the program or to receive any of these services call the department at 585-344-2580, ext. 5555, or visit http://www.co.genesee.ny.us/departments/health/radon2.html.
The results you receive from testing will decide your next steps. If your results indicate high levels of radon, you may need to mitigate (fix) your home. A radon screening of 4 picocuries/liter means that some level of home improvement is needed. The EPA states that no level of radon is completely safe so even if your results are low, talk to an expert to make sure your home is fully protected. To fix any radon problems in your home, the EPA recommends using a qualified contractor.
For more information on radon gas visit https://www.epa.gov/radon or call your local health department.
For information about general health department services contact:
- Genesee County Health Department at: 344-2580, ext. 5555, or visit their website
at www.co.genesee.ny.us/departments/health/index.html. Visit Facebook at Genesee County Health Department and Twitter at GeneseeCoHealthDept.
- Orleans County Health Department at: 589-3278 or check out their website
at: www.orleansny.com/publichealth. Visit Facebook and Twitter at OrleansCoHealth.
- Wyoming County Health Department at: 786-8838 or visit their website at www.wyomingco.net/health/main.html