Posted Monday, January 4th, 2016
Morris County health officials are urging homeowners, schools and businesses to participate in National Radon Action Month this January by performing a simple and basic test for radon that can safeguard your family from this colorless and odorless, naturally occurring gas that is linked to cancer.
The federal Environmental Protection Agency designates each January as National Radon Action Month to call attention to health risks posed by radon.
County health officials, in turn, suggest a checking for the presence of radon by using simple tests that are available through radon testing contractors, some local health departments, mail order, home improvement centers, and hardware stores.
“Morris County is committed to increasing awareness about radon and decreasing exposure of our county residents to the gas, which in turn may reduce the incidences of lung cancer,” said Carlos Perez, Jr. Health Officer, Morris County Office of Health Management.
“Since you can’t see or smell radon, testing is the only way to know the level, if any, of exposure in your home. In most cases, there are simple steps you can take to eliminate the gas, if you detect it.”
The New Jersey Radon Potential Map shows that the northwest part of the State, particularly Morris, Sussex, Somerset, Warren, and Hunterdon counties, has the largest number of homes with high radon concentrations.
To access the Radon Map, visit: www.njradon.org/radonin.htm
The state Department of Environmental Protection and the EPA recommend that action be taken to mitigate radon if test results show radon levels of 4 picocuries per liter (4 pCi/L) or higher. Mitigation usually entails installation of a venting system that draws the gas out of the home.
Colorless, odorless and tasteless, radon is a radioactive gas that results from the breakdown of naturally occurring uranium in soil and rock. Low levels of uranium occur widely in the Earth’s crust, and can be found in all 50 states.
Radon enters buildings through openings that are in contact with the ground, such as cracks in the foundation, sump pits, and small openings around pipes.
Radon decays into radioactive particles that can get trapped in your lungs when you breathe, which could damage lung tissue. Long term exposure can lead to lung cancer.
The EPA estimates radon causes 21,000 deaths annually. The Surgeon General has warned that radon is the number one cause of lung cancer in non-smokers, and second leading cause of lung cancer after cigarette smoking.
Residents can test for radon themselves or hire a New Jersey certified radon measurement business to perform the testing. If you hire a contractor to conduct the test, make sure the technician who places and picks up the test device is certified by the state.
Check with your local health department to find out if they provide either free or low-cost radon test devices.
Radon self-test kits can be purchased from $15 to $50. Contractors generally charge between $50 and $200.
Schools must obtain testing devices from a certified business or work with a certified contractor.
For more information on radon, visit: www.njradon.org