DEP URGES ALL HOMEOWNERS TO TEST FOR RADON;
HONORS TOWNS, COUNTIES, HEALTH DEPARTMENTS FOR RADON
(12/P5) TRENTON - Homeowners in New Jersey are being advised by the Department of Environmental Protection to check this month for an unwanted visitor to your premises: namely colorless, odorless, and tasteless radon, a naturally occurring gas that could seep into your home without a warning, and which could cause cancer.
Governor Chris Christie has pronounced January as Radon Action Month in New Jersey, as part of a national effort to call attention to the potential dangers of radon, and to encourage home and apartment owners to check this month for presence of radon via a simple and low-cost test.
“This is all about the health and safety of you and your family,’’ said DEP Commissioner Bob Martin. “Through an easy and inexpensive test, the level of radon exposure in homes, apartments, schools, and other buildings can be determined. It’s worth the cost and effort.’’
Eight towns, health departments and organizations in New Jersey are being honored by the DEP this month for 2011 efforts to call attention to the potential dangers of radon. Radon Action Partnership Awards recipients are Atlantic County Healthy Living Coalition; Bergen County Department of Health Services; Galloway Township; Jefferson Township Health Department; Livingston Department of Health, Welfare, and Human Services; North Plainfield; Ocean County Department of Solid Waste Management; and the Passaic County Department of Health.
“Their enthusiasm, leadership, and innovation were evident in numerous activities that were conducted during 2011 National Radon Action Month, and throughout last year,’’ said Anita Kopera, the DEP’s Radon Section Supervisor. “Efforts included public presentations and public service announcements, website postings, radon test kit distribution, press releases, exhibits at housing, environmental, and health fairs; and proclamations and radon awareness displays.’’
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 and lead to lung cancer due to prolonged radon exposure.
The New Jersey Radon Potential Map shows that the northwest part of the State, particularly Sussex, Warren, Morris, Somerset and Hunterdon counties, plus sections of Mercer and Monmouth counties, have the highest radon concentrations. But radon is also found in more moderate levels in many other counties, too.
The federal Environmental Protection Agency 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. For these reasons, the DEP is encouraging homeowners to test their homes for radon and take appropriate action to deal with high radon levels.
The DEP and EPA both recommend that you take action to mitigate your home if test results indicate radon levels of 4 pCi/L (4 picocuries per liter) of radon or more. Even residents in moderate and low radon potential areas should test their homes.
Residents can test for radon themselves or hire a New Jersey certified radon measurement business to perform the testing. Check with your local health department to find out if they provide either free or low-cost radon test devices.
Devices also are available from certified radon measurement businesses through mail order, and test devices are often available in hardware stores. If the device is purchased at a retail store, make sure the kit is labeled with the New Jersey certification number of the company that produced the test kit (the number will begin with “MEB9” followed by 4 digits). 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.
Lists of New Jersey certified testing and mitigation businesses and general radon information are available at www.njradon.org or call the Radon Section Information Line at (800) 648-0394 or (609) 984-5425.
To access the New Jersey Radon Potential Map, visit: www.njradon.org/radonin.htm
Also, 175 students across the state participated in the New Jersey Radon Poster Contest to help to raise awareness about harmful effects of elevated levels of indoor radon. The first, second and third place winners are: Rahul Ramanathan, York Art Studio in Bridgewater; Issac Yi, Anna C. Scott Elementary School in Leonia; Diana Guadarrama, Buena Regional Middle School in Buena. The school with the most entries was Buena Regional Middle School in Buena.
To view the top three New Jersey 2011 entries visit: www.njradon.org/PosterWinners.htm