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Testing Your Home for Radon Is a New Year’s Resolution Worth Keeping

 

Radon Testing Kits Available on a First-Come, First-Served Basis

The Greater Somerset Public Health Partnership (GSPHP), New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) and the Regional Chronic Disease/Cancer Coalition (RCDC) of Morris and Somerset counties are partnering to recognize January as Radon Awareness Month.  A proclamation was recently signed by the Somerset County Board of Chosen Freeholders.   Several Somerset County municipalities also will be issuing proclamations for Radon Awareness Month.

Radon is an odorless, tasteless and invisible gas that occurs naturally when uranium and radium break down in the soil and in rock formations. Radon gas moves up through the soil and finds its way into homes through cracks in the foundation and openings around pumps, pipes and drains. Radon occurs in higher concentrations in certain areas of the state, including Morris and Somerset Counties.

Radon is the leading cause of lung cancer in nonsmokers and the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States.  Radon is associated with approximately 20,000 lung cancer deaths each year in the United States. According to the RCDC, lung and bronchus cancers are the No. 1 cause of cancer-related fatalities in Morris and Somerset Counties. 

Smokers and people exposed to second-hand smoke have a greater risk of developing lung cancer if they are also exposed to excess radon. Radon does not cause any immediate symptoms, such as asthma or respiratory problems, so testing for radon is the only way to know if a home has elevated radon levels. 

“Somerset County is committed to increasing awareness about lung cancer,” said Freeholder Deputy Director Mark Caliguire, public health and safety liaison. “It’s important that residents decrease exposure to radon to reduce the incidence of lung cancer; go for cancer screenings so that problems can be identified at earlier, less dangerous stages; and understand the dangers of smoking and second-hand smoke.”  

“In an effort to reduce the risk of exposure to radon gas, residents are urged to test their homes, said Cinthia Weaver, Health Officer of Branchburg and GSPHP president.  “It’s not uncommon to find that homes on the same block will have different test results. So even if your neighbor’s home is not affected by radon gas, it does not mean that your home is in an acceptable range.

“Also if there has been construction in or near your home, it is important to retest,” she said. “If a radon test indicates a radon problem, radon mitigation systems can be installed at a cost similar to other home repairs.” 

To enable Somerset County residents to test their homes, one radon kit per household will be available on a first-come, first-served basis for $10 at various locations throughout Somerset County. 

Residents may pick up radon kits at the following locations while supplies last: Bernards Township Health Department, 262 S. Finley Ave., Basking Ridge, (908) 204-3070;  Branchburg Township Health Department, 34 Kenbury Road, (908) 526-1300 ext. 181; Bridgewater Township Health Department, 100 Commons Way, (908) 725-5750; Montgomery Township Health Department, 2261 Route 206, Belle Mead, (908) 359-8211; Somerset County Department of Health, 27 Warren St., Somerville, (908) 231-7155; and Middle Brook Regional Health Commission, 111 Greenbrook Rd., Green Brook, (732) 968-5151.   Residents should call beforehand to ensure availability of kits. For more information about radon testing or mitigation, residents should contact their local health department. 

The RCDC is providing radon kits to the Somerset Community Action Weatherization Assistance Program as a public service to ensure that non-profit group homes are also being tested for safe levels.  SCAP staff has been trained and will be conducting testing in area group homes.

An information display will be set up at both the county administration building, located at 20 Grove St., and the county human services building, located at 27 Warren St., in Somerville, through Jan. 31.  The public is invited to help themselves to literature about radon and lung cancer.

For more information about the RCDC, to become a member or to schedule a presentation on cancer education for your organization or community group, contact RCDC Coordinator Lucille Y-Talbot at (908) 203-6077 or ytalbot@co.somerset.nj.us

Information about the RCDC and other Somerset County Department of Health programs can be found at www.co.somerset.nj.us/health from the “Resources” button at the top of the page.