Rita Landgraf, Secretary
Jill Fredel, Director of Communications
302-255-9047, Pager 302-357-7498
Date: January 5, 2012
January is National Radon Action Month and a perfect time to test your home for radon. The Delaware's Division of Public encourages Delawareans to test their homes for radon. The test is generally the easiest and most effective in cooler weather months when houses tend to be closed up for warmth.
Radon is an invisible, odorless, tasteless and radioactive gas that occurs naturally in rocks and soils throughout the world and seeps into homes through foundation cracks, and can reach harmful levels if trapped indoors. This gas may be found in older homes and buildings and in newer ones as well. In fact, since newer homes are more airtight than older ones they often allow higher concentrations of radon to accumulate.
According to both the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the American Lung Association radon is the number one cause of lung cancer among non-smokers and an important national public health issue. Radon is responsible for about 21,000 lung cancer deaths every year. Nearly 2,900 of these deaths occur among people who have never smoked.
In Delaware, nearly 12 percent of homes show elevated radon levels. Levels above 4 pCi/L (picocuries per liter) are considered to be elevated. Homes with basements and those located in areas where the bedrock is close to the surface are more likely to have elevated radon. Therefore, elevated radon is more likely in the northern portion of the state and least likely in the southern coastal areas. However, any home can have elevated radon and testing is the only way to know for sure.
EPA recommends homes be fixed if the radon level is 4 pCi/L (picocuries per liter) or more. Because there is no known safe level of exposure to radon, EPA also recommends fixing homes for radon levels between 2 pCi/L and 4 pCi/L. The average radon concentration in the indoor air of America's homes is about 1.3 pCi/L. It is this level that EPA based its estimate of 20,000 radon-related lung cancers a year upon.
Test kits are available at most hardware stores. To find out if you qualify for a free radon test kit, while supplies last, contact the DPH radon office at (302)744-4546 or call 1-800-464-HELP (4357). Information about radon is available at www.delawarehealthyhomes.org
Delaware Health and Social Services is committed to improving the quality of the lives of Delaware's citizens by promoting health and well-being, fostering self-sufficiency, and protecting vulnerable populations.