The Burlington County Health Department is distributing free radon test kits to county residents to check their homes for the radioactive gas.
The kits are being made available as part of a partnership between the county and the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection to raise awareness and help safeguard local homes from the hazard.
“Radon is an odorless and colorless gas that can pose a serious health risk,” said Burlington County Health Department Director Dr. Herb Conaway. “According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer after smoking and is estimated to be responsible for about 21,000 deaths each year, including a significant number of people who have never smoked. Testing the air in your home is a simple way to protect yourself and your loved ones from this potential hazard.”
The gas is formed naturally when uranium and radium break down in the soil and in rock formations. Radon gas then moves up through the soil and can enter homes through cracks in foundations and openings around pumps, pipes and drains.
In New Jersey, about 10 percent of radon tests equal or exceed the EPA’s action level of 4 picoCuries per liter (pCi/L). The average U.S. indoor level is 1.3 pCi/L.
The available home test kits are simple to use and are being offered free to Burlington County residents. If high levels of radon are detected, the health department can also help advise on mitigation actions and certified radon mitigation professionals.
By law, all businesses and professionals conducting radon testing and mitigation in New Jersey must be certified by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection. The department’s Radon Section regulates radon measurement and mitigation businesses and professionals to ensure high quality radon services.
Typical mitigation systems use a vent pipe and fan to collect and vent the gas from a home. Costs are usually the same as many other home repairs.
Burlington County Commissioner Dan O’Connell, the liaison to the health department, said the free kits can help reduce the radon risk in the county.
“A significant number of homes are likely to have levels above the acceptable limits so it’s important that we test as many places as possible to detect the danger,” O’Connell said.
Residents can pick up a free test kit at the health department office at 15 Pioneer Boulevard, Westampton.
For more information, call the environmental health coordinator at (609) 265-3739 or the DEP Radon Program at (800) 648-0394.