(ITHACA, NY, January 22, 2024) – During Radon Awareness Week (January 22-26, 2024), Tompkins County Whole Health (TCWH) is reminding the community of the importance of testing your home for radon.
Radon is an odorless, colorless, and tasteless gas that can cause serious health problems, including lung cancer, if left undetected in your home. Radon is naturally occurring in the ground but can enter the home through cracks or gaps in the floors or walls. Once the radon is inside the home, the levels can build up over time. The only way to know if radon is in your home is to test the air for radon levels.
According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), radon is the number one cause of lung cancer in non-smokers and is the overall second leading cause of lung cancer after smoking. A smoker who is exposed to radon has a much higher chance of lung cancer. Radon is responsible for about 21,000 lung cancer deaths annually, with approximately 2,900 of those deaths occurring in non-smokers.
The EPA categorizes counties into zones based on average indoor radon screening levels. Tompkins County falls within the EPA’s Zone 1 (Red Zone) for counties that have a predicted average indoor radon screening level greater than 4pCi/L (pico curies per liter). Between 30% to 50% of tests conducted in Tompkins County have shown levels of radon above 4pCi/L. Living in a Zone 1 area means that it is especially important to test your home for radon and re-test again every five years. If your home already has a mitigation system in place, it is important to re-test every two years to ensure the unit is working properly.
Radon home-test kits can be purchased at a variety of home-improvement retailers, such as ACE Hardware Store, Lowe’s, Home Depot and Walmart. Radon test kits are also available from the New York State Department of Health for $12.25 each (cost includes testing device, laboratory analysis and postage). Email firstname.lastname@example.org to request an order form.
Free radon test kits are available through TCWH’s Healthy Neighborhoods Program (HNP). Staff will provide instructions on how to use the kits and can provide referrals for mitigation services. If needed, HNP staff can assist in setting up the radon tests at your home as well. To learn more or to schedule an appointment for radon testing with our HNP staff, please call Diana Crouch, Education Coordinator, at 607-274-6702.
Director of Health Promotion Samantha Hillson stated, "At Tompkins County Whole Health, we are committed to health equity, striving to improve the wellbeing and safety of all residents of Tompkins County. The Healthy Neighborhoods Program is a prime example of this work, providing free home safety materials and information to County residents. Distributing free radon test kits is an essential strategy to reduce the rates of preventable cancer in our county. You can't see, smell, or taste radon gas, so the best way to know if you have dangerous levels of radon in your home is to test."
A Tompkins County HNP participant stated, “Thank you to the Healthy Neighborhoods Program for the products, information, and most importantly, the care for my family’s health and safety!” HNP staff are available to answer your questions and assist you in determining what items may be suitable for you to receive to improve the safety of your living space.
For additional information about TCWH’s Healthy Neighborhoods Program, please visit our website: https://tompkinscountyny.gov/health/hnp or call 607-274-6702.
For additional information about radon, go to: https://www.tompkinscountyny.gov/health/radon
Tompkins County Whole Health envisions a future where every person in Tompkins County can achieve wellness. Find us online at TompkinsCountyNY.gov/health, and follow us on Facebook at facebook.com/TompkinsWholeHealth and on Twitter at @TCWholeHealth. Get Whole Health updates or other county announcements via email or text, sign up here.
Media contact: Shannon Alvord, email@example.com