The Connecticut Public Health Department, in conjunction with the United States Environmental Protection agency, has proclaimed January as Radon Action Month and urges all Connecticut residents to test their homes for radon and, if necessary, to mitigate high concentrations.
Radon is naturally occurring colorless and odorless radioactive gas that is often found in soil and bedrock. Since radon is a gas, it moves easily through rock and soil and into the air. Outdoors, radon levels are low, but in an enclosed space like a house, radon can increase to a high level. Radon can enter a home through a dirt cellar floor, cracks in the foundation, joints between a concrete floor and walls, through sump pump drains and other openings. Also, it can be released into the home by running water from showers, faucets and washing machines. The source of the water can be groundwater within a rock formation that contains a high concentration of radon.
Long-term exposure to high levels can increase one’s risk of developing lung cancer. Public health officials have determined that radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States. When exposure to radon is combined with smoking or inhaling secondhand smoke, the risk may increase dramatically. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that radon causes 20,000 lung cancer deaths per year in this country.
The only way to know if your home has a high radon level (greater than 4 picocuries per liter) is to test for it. A picocurie is a measure of the rate of radioactive decay of radon. Radon levels tend to be higher during the winter months when homes are closed to the outside air and when the heating systems that require combustion of fuel are in use. The combustion sometimes creates a negative pressure within the basement and results in the infiltration of outside air through the openings previously discussed. The operation of bathroom and kitchen exhaust fans and the use of clothes dryers contribute to the negative pressure. Testing for radon during the months of January and February is recommended.
The Town of Durham Health Department has a supply of radon test kits containing instructions and additional information that were obtained through a promotion by the Connecticut Department of Public Health Radon Program (ct.gov/dph/radon). Durham residents who would like to test for radon, should contact Bill Milardo at 860-349-8253, ext. 2 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to obtain a free kit.
Test kits are also available through the American Lung Association, which offers the kits for $14.50. The price includes the sampling device, instructions, laboratory analysis, tax, postage and handling. To purchase a test, call 1-800-LUNG-USA (586-4872) or visit lung.org.
-- Press Release
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