Radon testing kits are 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 to that effect.
“ Somerset County is committed to increasing awareness about lung cancer,” said Freeholder Peter S. Palmer, 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.”
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 22,000 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.
“In an effort to reduce the risk of exposure to radon gas, residents are urged to test their homes, said Branchburg Township health officer and GSPHP president Cinthia Weaver. “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, radon kits will be available on a first-come, first-served basis at various health departments throughout Somerset County until supplies are depleted. Residents should contact their local health department or the Somerset County Department of Health for cost, availability and information on radon-testing procedures and mitigation. A listing of health departments in Somerset County can be found at www.co.somerset.nj.us/health/localhealth.aspx. To contact the county health department, call (908) 231-7155 or email HealthDept@co.somerset.nj.us.
For more information about the RCDC and radon kits, 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
The RCDC operates under the auspices of the Somerset County Department of Health.
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.