Could You Have Unsafe Radon Levels in Your Home? [AUDIO]
It is odorless, colorless and tasteless and is responsible for 21,000 lung cancer deaths each year across the United States. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates one in 15 homes nationwide have unsafe radon levels. If your home is one of them, there are steps you can take.
"Testing for radon is very easy. It's as easy as going to your nearest hardware store and picking up a test kit," said Abbie Tang-Smith, a communications associate with the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection. "Radon testing is a one-time deal. As soon as you test for it, within 24 hours, you know your levels and you can fix the problem."
Radon is caused by the natural breakdown of uranium in soil and water. It seeps into homes through drains and cracks in the foundation. While radon is natural in the air, it can become a problem when it is trapped inside a house.
Some of the counties in New Jersey that have the largest number of homes with elevated radon concentrations include Sussex, Warren, Morris, Somerset and Hunterdon. Sections of Mercer and Monmouth counties also have high levels.
The DEP and the EPA recommend that action be taken to mitigate if test results indicate radon levels of 4 picocuries per liter (4 pCi/L) of radon or higher. Mitigation usually entails installation of a venting system that draws the gas out of the home.
If you want to test your home for radon, self-test kits can be picked up at a hardware store for $15 to $50. Contractors also can conduct the test, and they generally charge between $50 and $200. Schools must obtain testing devices from a certified business or work with a certified contractor.
Homeowners who purchase kits at retail stores should 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 four digits.
For more information, visit 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, which shows radon risks in each municipality in New Jersey, go to www.njradon.org/radonin.htm.