ALBANY, N.Y. (WENY) — 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. It is generated from the natural breakdown of uranium in soil and rock.
The EPA 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.”
The state says it seeps into homes and other buildings through cracks in the foundation and walls. Many homes contain enough radon to increase people’s 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.
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.
Additional information about radon can be found here.