TRENTON– Radon is a colorless, odorless and tasteless gas — one that might enter your home without your knowledge and which could cause cancer. During January, which is National Radon Action Month, the Department of Environmental Protection is encouraging all homeowners in New Jersey to check for radon exposure via a simple test.
“It’s a smart thing to do, which could ensure the safety and health of you and your family,” said Commissioner Bob Martin. “Fortunately, the level of radon exposure in homes, schools and other buildings can be determined through an inexpensive test.”
The New Jersey Radon Potential Map shows that the northwest part of the State, particularly Sussex, Warren, Morris, Somerset and Hunterdon counties, has the largest number of homes with high radon concentrations. The DEP and the EPA both recommend that you take action to mitigate your home if your test results indicate radon levels of 4 pCi/L (4 picocuries per liter) of radon or more. However, even residents in moderate and low radon potential areas should test their homes.
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 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.
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, go to:
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