Public Health Column: Radon is the second-leading cause of lung cancer
Press release -- Public Health Column:
November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month! Did you know that radon is the second-leading cause of lung cancer after smoking?
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), if you smoke and live in a home with high radon levels, your risk for developing lung cancer significantly increases. Testing your home for radon is the only effective way to determine if you and your loved ones are exposed to toxic levels of this poisonous gas.
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, further explains how 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," she said. "Any home can have high radon levels, whether it is old or new, has a basement or is built on a slab.”
Test Your Home
Testing your home with a short term radon test kit is the quickest way to determine if your home is at risk. 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.
The EPA recommends placing the test kit in the first livable floor of your home. If you do not spend time in your basement, place the test kit in the first level of your home. Avoid testing in the kitchen, bathroom and laundry room. The humidity created in these rooms may interfere with the radon test results.
Once you have located where you will unseal the test kit, place it at least 20 inches off the ground. Be mindful to place the test kit in an area where pets or children will not disturb it. All windows and doors must remain closed (except for normal entry and exit) throughout the duration of the test. This will allow for the greatest concentration of radon to build up within your home.
Mail Test Kit in Timely Manner
Once the test kit is complete, reseal the test kit canister and mail it to the lab in a timely manner. A self-addressed envelope will be provided with the kit. f the test is not received by the lab within 7 days, the test results will be inconclusive.
Test kits are also available through the New York State Department of Health, some County Health Departments and local hardware stores.
Balduf explains that “If your home does have an elevated level of radon (4 picocuries per liter of air [pCi/L] or greater), you should contact a certified radon mitigator to install a radon reduction system in your home. These systems should only be installed by a certified radon mitigator. Radon reduction systems can be a low cost and effective way to reduce the level of radon in your home.”
Home Buyers -- Know Results of Radon Test
When purchasing a new house, make sure the seller completes a radon test kit and has the results available. If you are building a new home, make sure to have radon-resistant construction features installed and tested prior to moving in.
The Genesee County Health Department Radon Program offers short-term radon test kits for residences in Genesee County. The program also offers educational materials and in-services programs on the danger of radon prevalence, and mitigation options for new or existing homes which are all available at no charge.
This holiday season; share the gift of good health by encouraging your friends and family to test their homes for radon. The only way to know if there is radon in your home is by completing a simple test kit that may save your life.
For More Information
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.
For information about services that your local health department provides visit:
- Genesee County Health Department at: 344-2580, ext. 5555, or visit their website at www.co.genesee.ny.us/departments/health/index.html