Radon is a colorless, odorless, naturally-occurring radioactive gas that may threaten health when it is present high concentrations. It is the leading cause of lung cancer in non-smokers. Any home in any community may have elevated levels of radon, even if other homes in the neighborhood do not. Testing for radon is simple and inexpensive. Once a radon problem has been identified, it can be fixed. Because radon is invisible and odorless, the only sure way of knowing if your home contains excessive levels of radon is to TEST for radon.
Radon occurs naturally in the environment. It is formed by the breakdown of natural uranium in rocks and soil. In the open air, radon is so highly diluted that it poses no danger. When it seeps into homes, it becomes trapped and can build to levels of concern. The risk of developing lung cancer from exposure to radon depends upon the concentration of radon and the length of time you are exposed. Smokers increase this risk ten-fold. Most radon-related health issues are caused from radon that circulates in the air. Wells can also be tested for radon, although this is a less common source of health-related issues. If your home tests high for radon, you might consider having your water tested.
The CT Department of Public Health (DPH) recommends that all Connecticut homes be tested for radon. Testing is recommended in the winter months. Connecticut residents may obtain a free radon test kit by completing an online form on the DPH Radon Program website. Test kits will be available only during the month of January while supplies last. Test kits can also be purchased from the American Lung Association of New England by calling 1-800-LUNG-USA or at your local hardware store.
To learn more about radon and to obtain a list of qualified radon mitigation contractors, please visit the DPH Radon Program website at www.ct.gov/dph/radon. If you do not have internet access, you can call the DPH Radon Program, 860-509-7299. Quinnipiack Valley Health District residents (Bethany, Hamden, North Haven and Woodbridge) can call 203 248-4528 for written information. (Information from the DPH press release is incorporated into this article.)