G-O Health Departments urge awareness about radon, a radioactive gas

Posted 17 January 2023 at 11:03 am

Press Release, Genesee and Orleans County Health Departments

January is Radon Action Month, an annual observance that focuses on increasing the public’s awareness of the health risks of radon and how you can take action.

Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas that has no smell, taste or color. When radon forms from the breakdown of uranium found in soil, it can enter a home through cracks in the walls, basement floors, foundations and other openings.

According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, radon is the second-leading cause of lung cancer and claims the lives of approximately 21,000 Americans each year. This January, we are encouraging all homeowners, renters, real estate agents and building managers to conduct radon testing. The New York State Department of Health recommends testing for radon during the buying/selling of a home, after doing a major renovation, and every two to five years depending on previous radon level readings.

The EPA and NYSDOH have identified Genesee County as having a high average indoor radon screening level greater than 4 pCi/L (pico curies per liter). The good news is, testing your home with a short term radon test kit is a quick and easy way to determine if there are high levels of radon present in your home. The test kits are easy to use and contain basic instructions on how to receive the most accurate results when testing your home for radon.

“The only way to know if high levels of radon are present in your home is by testing your home for radon,” stated Paul Pettit, Public Health Director for the Genesee and Orleans County Health Departments.

Editor’s Note: According to the EPA, Orleans County is listed as Zone 2 (Moderate Potential) and Genesee County is listed as Zone 1 (Highest Potential) for radon zones.

The Genesee County Health Department was awarded a five year grant through the NYSDOH to provide radon prevention education and distribute free radon test kits to Genesee County residents. Currently, there is a limited supply of radon test kits that can be given to residents of Genesee County and this process is free of charge when you request a kit. If you live outside of Genesee County, you can purchase an inexpensive radon test kit from your local hardware store.

If test results come back and the radon levels in your home are greater than 4 picocuries per liter of air (pCi/L), you can contact a certified radon mitigation contractor to install a radon reduction system in your home. This would be at the homeowner’s expense.

For more details about the program or to seek a radon test kit, call the Genesee County Health Department at (585) 344-2580 ext. 5555. For more information on radon or other GO Health programs and services, visit GOHealthNY.org.