Radon Poses Serious Health Risks and Homes in 40 New York Counties are Considered High Risk for Elevated Levels
Learn More about Radon here
The New York State Department of Health is reminding New Yorkers to test their homes for radon during National Radon Action Month. Radon is a naturally-occurring radioactive gas that is invisible, odorless, and tasteless, and the federal Environmental Protection Agency estimates radon exposure is the leading cause of lung cancer deaths among nonsmokers in the U.S., claiming the lives of about 21,000 Americans each year.
“Being unable to see, taste, or smell radon does not mean it is harmless,” Acting State Health Commissioner Dr. James McDonald said. “Radon is a silent killer but there is an easy way to test for it so the risks can be substantially reduced. I urge all New Yorkers to test their homes, businesses, schools, and other buildings so steps can be taken to mitigate exposure to this serious health risk.”
Radon gas is generated from the natural breakdown of uranium in soil and rock. It seeps into homes and other buildings through cracks in the foundation, walls, and joints. Many homes contain radon concentrations that are high enough to give their occupants lifetime exposures that could increase their risk of developing lung cancer.
Across New York, 40 counties are considered high risk for elevated indoor radon levels, but even houses in low risk areas can have elevated levels, and the only way to know if the levels are a problem is to test. Inexpensive test kits can be found in local hardware stores. Building owners can also find certified radon testers in each county in New York here.
While radon testing can be done at any time, it is best to do so during the heating season, when less outdoor air enters the home. Every home should be tested for radon every five years and re-tested after remodeling, weatherizing, or after radon mitigation.
Once elevated levels are detected, there are radon reduction systems that can decrease levels in homes by as much as 99 percent. Radon reduction systems should be installed by certified radon mitigation contractors. To locate a certified contractor, click here.
New Yorkers building a new home in an area considered high-risk for radon should speak with a building contractor about installing a passive radon mitigation system during construction. A passive system can reduce radon levels by about 50 percent and can be easily converted into an active system with the installation of a fan if additional radon reduction is necessary. Information about radon-resistant new construction can be found here.
These Department webpages have additional information and resources about radon:
- Radon Information
- Radon – Frequently Asked Questions
- Protecting Your Family From Radon: A Guide for New York State Residents
Information about National Radon Action Month is available here.
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