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radon

November 22, 2019 - 2:39pm
posted by Billie Owens in GC health department, lung cancer, radon, news.

From the Genesee County Health Department:

November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month! Did you know that radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer?

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Surgeon General’s office, radon is responsible for more than 20,000 lung cancer deaths each year in the United States. Fortunately, radon induced lung cancer can be prevented.

Radon is a radioactive gas that forms naturally when elements (uranium, thorium, or radium) break down in rocks, soil and groundwater.

People can be exposed to high levels of radon from breathing in the toxic gas when it seeps into homes and buildings through cracks or gaps in the foundation.

“When you breathe in radon, radioactive particles from radon gas can get trapped in your lungs” said Sarah Balduf, Environmental Health director of Genesee and Orleans counties. “Over time, these radioactive particles increase the risk of lung cancer. It may take years before health problems appear.”

People who smoke and are exposed to radon are at a greater risk of developing lung cancer. The only way to know if your house has high levels of radon is to test for it.

The EPA recommends taking action to reduce radon in homes that have a radon level at or above 4 picocuries per liter (pCi/L). In Genesee County, the average indoor radon level is 5.74 pCi/L compared to the State average of 4.42 pCi/L2.

Below is a graph of the towns in Genesee County and their average indoor radon screening level. These screening levels reflect tests that were administered in the basement.

Any radon exposure has some risk of causing lung cancer. If your home has a radon level at or above 4 pCi/L, a certified radon mitigator can install a radon reduction system that will ventilate the radon out of the air within your home. The lower the radon levels are in your home, the lower your family’s risk of lung cancer.

About the Genesee County Health Department Radon Program

The program has a limited supply of free short-term radon test kits available to Genesee County residents. These kits are available on a first-come-first-serve basis. The program also offers educational materials and in-services programs on the danger of radon and mitigation options for new or existing homes -- all available at no charge.

Test kits are available to order through the NYSDOH website for $11 here.

Health Signs of Exposure

If you think you might have been exposed to high levels of radon over long periods of time, talk with your doctor about whether you should get regular health checkups and tests to look for possible signs of lung cancer.

Be aware of possible symptoms of lung cancer, such as shortness of breath, a new or worsening cough, pain or tightness in the chest, hoarseness, or trouble swallowing, and tell your doctor if you start to have any of these symptoms.

For more information about the Radon Program in Genesee County, please call the Genesee County Health Department at 585-344-2580, ext. 5555, or click here.

January 4, 2019 - 4:09pm

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.

December 10, 2018 - 12:21pm

Public health column from the Genesee County Health Department:

Did you know that exposure to radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer after cigarette smoking? According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), approximately 21,000 lung cancer deaths per year are related to radon.

Many people are unaware that radon may be a problem in their homes because it is a radioactive gas that you cannot smell, taste or see. The good news is that lung cancer related to radon exposure can be prevented by testing your home.

So where does radon come from? Radon gas forms naturally in the ground from the breakdown of uranium in soil, rock, and water that circulates into the air we breathe. When radon is formed under homes and buildings, it can easily enter 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.

When radon enters a home, the toxic gas can get trapped inside. Breathing indoor air with high radon levels can be damaging to your health.

Paul Pettit, Public Health director of Genesee and Orleans counties, explains the dangers relationship betweensmoking, radon, and lung cancer.

“Radon and tobacco smoke from cigarettes (including but not limited to cigars and pipes) can damage your lungs," Pettit said. "When they’re combined, smoking and radon are more dangerous than either one on its own. Smokers who live in a home with high radon levels have a risk of lung cancer that is 10 times higher than nonsmokers who live in homes with high radon levels.”

Testing your home is the only way to know if you and your family are exposed to radon. A short-term test kit is the quickest and easiest way to test your home. The EPA recommends testing the lowest level of your home where people spend time.

If you use part of your basement for living space, like a playroom, office, or den, test there. If you only use your basement for storage, test the first floor. Avoid testing in places that are damp like the kitchen, bathroom or laundry room.

The EPA recommends that you take action to reduce your home's indoor radon levels if your radon test result is 4 pCi/L (pico curies per liter) or higher.

In Genesee County, the average basement screening level is 7.46 pCi/L, and the average first-floor screening level is 4.32 pCi/L.

Due to the high levels of radon, the Genesee County Health Department offers free short-term radon test kits to residents in Genesee County. The department also provides educational in-services and materials about radon, testing and mitigation at no charge.

If your home has an elevated level of radon, you should contact a certified radon mitigator to install a radon reduction system in your home. It is important to note that these systems should only be installed by a certified radon mitigator.

A radon reduction system can be a low cost and effective way to reduce the level of radon in your home. If you are purchasing a new house, make sure the seller completes a radon test 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.

For more information on radon, please visit here.

For more details about the program or to receive any of these services call the department at 585-344-2580, ext. 5555, ot visit here.

November 29, 2017 - 4:52pm
posted by Billie Owens in public health column, news, Announcements, health, radon.

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:

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