Testing Homes for Radon Is Inexpensive - And Could Prevent Lung Cancer

Governor Paterson Proclaims January as Radon Action Month

ALBANY, N.Y. (Jan. 20, 2009) – Along with Governor Paterson'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. Testing for radon is simple and inexpensive, and is a precaution everyone should take.

According to the federal Environmental Protection Agency, radon is the second-leading cause of lung cancer after smoking. Although lung cancer can be treated, the survival rate is one of the lowest of all cancers. From the time of diagnosis, the five-year mortality rate for people with lung cancer is approximately 80 percent to 85 percent. Radon is responsible for over 20,000 lung cancer deaths annually.

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

Homeowners can test their homes at any time; however, it is best to do so in the heating season when homes typically let in less outdoor air. It is important to remember that every home is different and should be tested for radon. Sources for professional radon testing are posted at: http://www.nyhealth.gov/environmental/radiological/radon/additional_resources.htm

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 throughout the state who have met certain requirements and are trained to identify and fix radon problems in your home. They also are listed on the DOH website.

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.nyhealth.gov/radiation 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.

Students Awarded for Radon Awareness Posters

Nicholas Barbaria, a student at Albert Leonard Middle School, in New Rochelle, has won the New York State Radon Poster Contest. Taking second place was Erika Robbins, also from Albert Leonard Middle School. There were more than 200 posters entered, all of which will be on public display in the Empire State Plaza Concourse in Albany at the end of January.

The statewide contest was held to highlight the risks posed by exposure to indoor radon.; The winning poster of the national contest can be seen at the National Safety Council's website, www.nsc.org/issues/radon/radon_poster.htm.