Radon

Radon is a radioactive gas that is constantly being generated from the decay of uranium which occurs naturally in soil and rocks. Radon is a colorless, odorless, invisible gas that can only be detected through the use of special equipment. The radon concentration in a home is dependent on the type of soil the home is built on. Openings in the building foundation will provide the pathway for radon in the soil to enter the home. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has identified radon as the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States. Many homes contain radon concentrations that are high enough to give their occupants lifetime exposures that could increase their risk of developing lung cancer.

The most commonly used device for making radon measurements in homes is a canister about the size and shape of a can of tuna fish that contains activated charcoal. Radon in the air is adsorbed on the charcoal which can then be measured by a laboratory to determine the concentration of radon in the air. These devices are quick, inexpensive, and easy to use. They are analyzed and the results are reported to you by a NYS DOH Environmental Lab Approved Program (ELAP) certified lab. When testing indicates that the radon level in the home is elevated, the NYS DOH recommends that the homeowner take corrective action.

One of the most widely used methods to reduce radon levels in a home is the active sub‐slab depressurization system. This technique will reroute the radon gas from the soil away from the house, by venting the soil gas from beneath the basement to a point above the roof. This technique is very effective and will typically cost between $1000 and $1500 to install.

If you have any questions about radon, call the New York State Department of Health at (518) 402-7556, or send email to radon@health.state.ny.us

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