The month of January has been designated as Radon Action Month in Connecticut according to Newtown Health District Director Donna Culbert. Her local agency is joining with the Connecticut Department of Public Health, the American Lung Association of Connecticut, and US Environmental Protection Agency urging local residents to test their home for radon, and, if necessary, mitigate high levels when found.
“Radon is not necessarily predictable, one home could have high levels of radon gas and the one next door may not,” Ms Culbert told The Newtown Bee this week. “The only way to be sure is to test.”
Radon is an invisible, odorless radioactive gas that is formed from the radioactive decay of uranium, which occurs naturally in bedrock worldwide. Radon enters the home through small cracks and holes in the basement.
At levels above 4 picoCuries per liter it can increase one’s risk of getting lung cancer. Public health officials have found that radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States, behind cigarette smoking, and the leading cause among nonsmokers.
If you smoke cigarettes and have radon in your home, then your risk of getting lung cancer is even greater, the health director stated.
“We live in an area of the country where elevated radon levels in homes are quite common,” Ms Culbert said. “Most of Connecticut is located in a zone where there is a high to moderate potential for having a radon issue in the air or water in one’s home. Yet, very few people are testing for radon. Now is a good time of year to test.”
She believes the heating season is the best time to test for radon because homes are closed up and radon levels tend to build up indoors. The Department of Public Health, US Environmental Protection Agency, and the American Lung Association of Connecticut are partnering to promote radon testing and mitigation during Radon Action Month.
Those seeking additional information about radon and its effects are invited to call the Newtown Health District at 203-270-4291, or visit the agency’s website at www.newtown-ct.gov.
“Just click on Town Departments, click on Health Department, and then click on the RADON Info tab,” she directed. Web viewers can also access information directly at www.ct.gov/dph/cwp/view.asp?a=3140&q=387592&dphNav_GID=1828
The health district is referring residents seeking air and water testing for radon to Aqua Environmental Lab at 56 Church Hill Road. Residents can also get additional information from the Connecticut Department of Public Health Radon Program at 860-509-7367 or at ct.gov/dph/radon.
Homeowners can obtain inexpensive test kits at most home improvement stores, as well as many paint and hardware stores.
State health officials encourage builders to incorporate radon-resistant new construction (RRNC) techniques when constructing new homes. Using simple technology and common radon reduction techniques will help keep radon from entering the home by directing the radon gas outdoors.
State health officials say it is more cost-effective to include radon-resistant techniques while building a home, rather than retrofitting an existing home.
According to the EPA, for $350 to $500, on average, a builder can take the following four simple steps to deter radon from entering a home.
*Install a layer of clean gravel or aggregate beneath the slab or flooring system.
*Lay polyethylene sheeting on top of the gravel layer.
*Include a gas-tight venting pipe from the gravel level through the building to the roof.
*Seal and caulk the foundation thoroughly.