Passaic County initiates Radon Awareness Program

| 21 Mar 2012 | 11:02

PATERSON — The Passaic County Department of Health announced it will once again participate in the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) Radon Bureau’s special radon awareness program to promote testing for radon in homes. Last year the Passaic County Department of Health won the 2011 New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Radon Action Partnership Award for outstanding community outreach. This year the Passaic County Cancer Coalition will, in a joint partnership, assist the county health department in providing radon educational information and outreach to Passaic County homeowners.

In its Radon Awareness Program, the NJDEP Radon Bureau provides outreach assistance to promote radon testing in homes. For communities participating in the program, the NJDEP provides the county health department with radon informational materials regarding how residents can reduce the risk to radon exposure. The Passaic County Department of Health and the Passaic County Cancer Coalition want to ensure that residents are aware of the need to test their homes and reduce radon levels where necessary.

Passaic County Health Officer Irene Jessie Hunte explained that the state provided funds for a limited amount of free radon test kits.

“We have been targeting homeowners in Ringwood Borough, West Milford Township, Wanaque Borough, Pompton Lakes Borough and Bloomingdale Borough in Passaic County," said Hunte. "These towns, located in the New Jersey Highlands, have the potential for the highest levels of radon in the county. However, any Passaic County homeowner can reserve a kit.”

Test kits will be available on a first come first served basis. To reserve a kit call 973-881-4396. Arrangements to pick up reserved radon test kits at the Passaic County Department of Health, Ringwood Health Department, Wanaque Health Department, and the West Milford Health Department will be made.

Radon is a radioactive gas that occurs naturally when uranium breaks down in the soil and rock formations. Small amounts of uranium are found in nearly all soils and rocks. Radon gas moves up through the soil and finds its way into homes through cracks in the foundation and openings around sump pumps, pipes and drains. Testing is the only way to know if you and your family are at risk from radon. Radon testing is easy and problems can be fixed.

High radon levels are associated with a greater risk of lung cancer. Radon is the leading cause of lung cancer for non-smokers. Overall, radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer resulting in approximately 21,000 deaths in the United States per year. It is recommended that homes be mitigated if they have radon concentrations of 4 pCi/L or more.

There is truly no “safe” level of radon since lung cancer can result from very low exposures to radon; however, the risk decreases as the radon concentration decreases. If your test result is less than 4 pCi/L you may want to discuss with mitigation companies whether the radon level can be brought down still further. In about half of the homes that have been mitigated in New Jersey, radon levels have been brought to less than 1 pCi/L.

Homeowners who tested in the past and found low levels of radon may wish to retest to determine if radon concentrations have changed, due to changes in air flow within the house from new construction or other renovations, or due to new construction nearby that may have caused changes in the local geology.

In addition to test kits provided by Passaic County Department of Health, the NJDEP’s Radon Bureau at 800-648-0394 or can provide a list of state certified companies that provide testing services or do-it yourself test kits, as well as companies that provide radon remediation services.

For more information on radon, contact Renee B. Allessio,the county Right to Know coordinator, at 973-881-4396.