NEW YORK – In recognition of National Radon Action Month, which is in January, New York State Commissioner of Health Dr. Howard Zucker today reminded all New Yorkers to test their homes for radon, an invisible, odorless and tasteless gas that can ultimately be fatal.
Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the U.S., after cigarette smoking and the leading cause of lung cancer in nonsmokers. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that radon is responsible for about 21,000 lung cancer deaths a year. About 2,900 of those deaths occur in people who never smoked.
“Radon is a silent killer that poses a serious health risk,” Dr. Zucker said. “I urge all New Yorkers to test their homes for this gas, and if found, to take the necessary steps to mitigate the problem.”
Testing homes for radon is simple and inexpensive. Test kits are available through the New York State Department of Health’s (NYSDOH) Radon Program for $11 at www.health.ny.gov/environmental/radiological/radon/testkit.htm.
Tests of residential basements in New York State found elevated radon levels in about 37% of the homes. Radon occurs naturally. Outdoors, radon moves through the air, keeping levels low. But radon can reach harmful levels when it is trapped inside buildings. Because radon cannot be seen and has no odor, people tend to downplay the health effects and ignore the possibility that there might be a silent killer in their homes.
Radon problems can be fixed by qualified contractors for a cost similar to many other common home repairs such as the installation of a new water heater. Information on radon mitigation can be found at www.health.ny.gov/environmental/radiological/radon/mitigation/what_is_mitigation.htm.