Governor Spitzer, Health Commissioner Daines Urge New Yorkers to Test Their Homes for Radon

ALBANY, N.Y. (Jan. 2, 2008) – Along with Governor Spitzer's proclamation of January as Radon Action Month, State Health Commissioner Richard F. Daines, M.D., today reminded New Yorkers about the importance of testing their homes for radon. The colorless, odorless gas is the second-leading cause of lung cancer, and the Health Department's test kit is simple to use and inexpensive.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, radon is second only to tobacco use as the leading cause of lung cancer. Radon is responsible for more than 20,000 lung cancer deaths annually in the United States.

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.

"We want to help all New Yorkers reduce risks for all cancers and protect their health," Commissioner Daines said. "We will continue to increase public awareness of radon and its risks. I encourage New Yorkers to test their homes for radon and to reduce radon levels, if necessary."

New York residents can obtain a radon test kit from the state Health Department for $6.75. The cost includes shipping, handling and analysis. Test results are sent directly to the person who submitted the kit. To purchase a radon test kit, call the Health Department's Radon Program toll-free at 1-800-458-1158 or contact staff by e-mail at radon@health.state.ny.us.

Test kits are also available in some local hardware stores and from local health departments.

If a test shows that radon is a problem, reliable, proven techniques are available to reduce radon levels. Radon levels are measured in units called picocuries per liter (pCi/L) of air. Remediation is strongly advised if a home has a radon level of 4 pCi/L or more. There are contractors in all areas of New York State who are trained to identify and fix radon problems in a home. Contractors certified by the National Environmental Health Association or the National Radon Safety Board are listed on the DOH website http://www.nyhealth.gov/radiation.

Any home can have high radon levels. The only way to tell if a house has a radon problem is to test. Radon tests can be performed at any time; however, it is best to do so during the heating season, when homes are typically closed and let in less outdoor air. Remediation can be performed at any time of the year.

The State Health Department and the EPA have identified the following New York counties as high radon-risk areas:

  • Albany
  • Allegany
  • Broome
  • Cattaraugus
  • Cayuga
  • Chautauqua
  • Chemung
  • Chenango
  • Columbia
  • Cortland
  • Delaware
  • Dutchess
  • Erie
  • Genesee
  • Greene
  • Herkimer
  • Lewis
  • Livingston
  • Madison
  • Montgomery
  • Oneida
  • Onondaga
  • Ontario
  • Orange
  • Otsego
  • Putnam
  • Rensselaer
  • Saratoga
  • Schenectady
  • Schoharie
  • Schuyler
  • Steuben
  • Sullivan
  • Tioga
  • Tompkins
  • Ulster
  • Washington
  • Wayne
  • Wyoming
  • Yates

To learn more about radon, radon testing, certified contractors, or to review county maps of radon levels, please visit: http://www.nyhealth.gov/radiation.