State Health Commissioner Novello Urges New Yorkers to Test Their Homes for Radon

ALBANY, March 9, 2006 - State Health Commissioner Antonia C. Novello, M.D., M.P.H., Dr.P.H., today reminded New Yorkers about the importance of testing their homes for radon and better protect their health. Testing for radon, which is the second leading cause of lung cancer, is simple and inexpensive, and is a precaution everyone should take.

"We've made real progress in advancing anti-smoking and tobacco control initiatives in New York State, with cigarette use among adults declining to a record low of 18.1 percent statewide in 2004," Dr. Novello said. "Nevertheless, we continue to find ways to improve initiatives to protect the public health. Radon is another area where we want to continue to increase public awareness and education. New Yorkers are encouraged to test their homes for radon levels and take action to reduce levels if necessary."

According to the federal Environmental Protection Agency radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer after smoking. The untimely deaths of Peter Jennings and Dana Reeve due to lung cancer have raised public awareness about this deadly disease. Although lung cancer can be treated, the survival rate is one of the lowest for those with cancer. From the time of diagnosis, the 5-year mortality rate for people with lung cancer is approximately 80 to 85 percent.

If the test shows that radon is a problem, simple inexpensive techniques may be all that is needed to reduce radon levels. There are contractors in all areas of New York State that have met certain requirements and are trained to identify and fix radon problems in your home.

The public may obtain a radon test kit from the State Health Department, the cost is $6.75. The cost of the test kit includes shipping, handling and analysis. The test results are sent directly to the person who submitted the kit for testing. The test kits are also available in local hardware stores.

Homeowners can test their homes at any time, however it is best to do so in the heating season when homes are typically closed and let in less outdoor air. It is important to remember that every home is different and should be tested for radon.

Radon is a gas that comes from the breakdown of uranium in soil, rock and water. It occurs naturally in the earth, but can become a problem when it builds up indoors. It enters a home through cracks and openings in the foundation floor, walls and through openings around sump pumps.

To learn more about radon, radon testing, certified contractors, or to review county maps of radon levels, please visit: http://www.health.ny.gov/environmental/radiological/radon/ or contact the State Health Department's Radon Program toll-free at 1-800-458-1158 or by e-mail at radon@health.state.ny.us.