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

Governor Paterson Proclaims January as Radon Action Month

ALBANY, N.Y. (Jan. 12, 2010) – 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 is simple, inexpensive, and a precaution everyone should take.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, radon is the second-leading cause of lung cancer, after smoking. Although lung cancer can be treated, its survival rate is one of the lowest of cancers. The five-year mortality rate for people with lung cancer is approximately 80 percent to 85 percent. Radon is responsible for more than 20,000 lung cancer deaths annually.

"For the first time, New York's adult smoking rate has dropped below 17 percent, which is well below the national average," Commissioner Daines said. "Nevertheless, we must continue to expand our efforts to protect the public health. 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 during the heating season, when homes typically let in less outdoor air. Every home is different and should be tested for radon. The State Department of Health offers low-cost radon test kits for New York residents.

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 Web site.

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 email at radon@health.state.ny.us.