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Public Health

Posted on: January 1, 2019

National Radon Action Month

radonGas-Jan2018

Radon gas is formed from the breakdown and decay of Uranium, which converts to Radium as it travels up in the earth's crust, and eventually reaches the surface as Radon gas. Radon gas seeps into buildings through cracks and openings in a foundation or slab. A building acts as a vacuum trapping the gas for a period of time. Occupants in a building breathe in Radon gas unknowingly because it is odorless, colorless, and tasteless. While breathing Radon gas, the decay product with alpha particles causes radiation damage to the DNA of lung tissue. Over time, lung cancer can be a result of the Radon gas poisoning. The only way of knowing this gas is present in a building, is to test for levels of Radon in the building's air. 

Radon gas is measured in picocuries per liter of air. Any level of Radon in a home is unhealthy, but a level of 4.0 pCi/L is considered by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to be an actionable level. This means dangerous levels are reached and can cause poisoning. It is recommended that any building with 4.0 pCi/L or above of Radon gas should be considered for mitigation. This process is done by a certified Radon gas mitigation specialist and includes construction of pipes and vents in the foundation and wall that carries the gas up and away from the building, venting it into the outside air.  

The New York State Department of Health maintains a listing of certified mitigation specialists that can be contacted for construction of a mitigation system. 

Yates County Public Health is a partner in a grant from the NYSDOH, along with Schuyler and Steuben County Public Health Departments. The S2AY Rural Health Network administers this 5 year grant.  As part of this grant, educational presentations are offered and free Radon gas test kits are available to anyone in these three counties. To learn more about Radon Gas, read on: 

https://www.health.ny.gov/environmental/radiological/radon/radonfaq.htm

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