What is Radon – New York

What is Radon – New York

Radon is a naturally occurring chemical element found in the environment. At the normal range of the Earth’s temperatures, radon is in a gaseous form that cannot be seen, tasted or smelled. Most homes have some level of radon in them, not just in New York, but also throughout the world.

Describing Radon Levels

A unit of measurement called picoCuries per liter is used for describing radon levels. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) establishes guidelines for safe levels of radon in and throughout the rest of the United States. As long as radon levels remain equal to or less than 4.0 picoCuries per liter, the EPA usually does not recommend taking any action. At higher levels, radon has the potential to cause health problems and needs to be mitigated to ensure that your home is safe.

High Levels of Radon Not Uncommon in New York

 RadonIn cities throughout New York, including , it is not uncommon to find elevated levels of radon due to large deposits of uranium in the soil. Uranium contains radium, the primary source of radon in the environment. As radium breaks down in the soil, houses in become filled with the emitted radon.

and the surrounding areas in Orange County lie in an area that the EPA has deemed a “High Radon Potential Zone.” In 2010, the New York State Department of Health published a summary of results from tests conducted in the basements of homes throughout the state. The report showed that 43.3 percent of the 261 houses tested in had levels of radon between 4.0 picoCuries per liter and 20.0 picoCuries per liter. An additional 3.1 percent of the homes in had radon levels above 20.0 picoCuries per liter.

Radon Entry Points

Radon can enter homes in through a variety of means. Cracks in concrete slabs and blocks and spaces between laid brick can allow radon to seep into living spaces. Open sumps and crawlspaces and loose pipefittings can also allow radon to leak into houses in the area, leading to decreased air quality.

Health Concerns

Breathing in air contaminated with elevated levels of radon gas can cause permanent damage to the lungs. Among nonsmokers, radon gas is the number one cause of lung cancer throughout and the rest of the United States, cautions the EPA. Radon is also the second leading cause of lung cancer in smokers. residents at a high risk for lung cancer due to other health problems or their family histories are particularly susceptible to the effects of radon.

Health problems from exposure to excessive levels of radon gas do not happen overnight. Homeowners in can purchase kits to test the air quality in their own homes. The New York State Department of Health’s Environmental Lab Approval Program certifies test kits that meet state standards for accuracy. Using one of these tests is the first step toward mitigating the amount of radon in your home.