Radon test kits available at reduced price this month

The month of January has been designated as Radon Action Month in Connecticut and the Greenwich Department of Health, for the seventh consecutive year, has obtained grant funds from the state to support radon testing and provide Radon-In-Air test kits to town residents.

Throughout the month of January, radon test kits will be offered at a reduced fee of $25 per test, compared with the department’s regular fee of $57.

According to the Department of Health, radon is present at elevated levels in about one out of every five Connecticut homes. Radon is a naturally occurring, invisible, odorless radioactive gas that is normally harmlessly dispersed in outdoor air, but can reach harmful levels when it enters and gets trapped in buildings. Radon comes from rocks and soils in the ground and enters homes through small cracks and other openings in their foundations.

Exposure to radon gas at elevated levels for long periods of time can cause lung cancer and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend radon abatement measures to be undertaken if indoor radon levels exceed four picocuries per liter (pCi/L).Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the U.S. after smoking and the leading cause of lung cancer among non-smokers and is estimated to be responsible for more than 20,000 deaths from lung cancer in the US each year. About 2,900 of these deaths occur among people who have never smoked.

“We continue to offer this program because radon gas is a serious public health hazard. Therefore, all residents are encouraged to test their homes for radon this winter,” Greenwich Director of Health Caroline Calderone Baisley said. “Testing homes for elevated levels of radon is simple and inexpensive even when grant funded kits are no longer available.”

The only way to find out if a home has radon is to test for it. The winter season is the best time to test for radon because homes are closed up, and radon levels tend to build up indoors. To receive the reduced fee Radon-In-Air test kit, Greenwich residents can register by calling 203-622-7843. All residents are expected to pick up a radon-testing kit from the Department of Health Laboratory located on the ground floor of Town Hall during laboratory hours of Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Once the test kit is received, testing should be conducted the same day and returned to the lab four days later.

Tests to analyze radon will be conducted by the laboratory Monday through Friday, with results being reported by mail. All testing results over 4 pCi/L are considered elevated according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and should be considered for remediation.

Doug Serafin, director of the Division of Environmental Services Laboratory explained, “Because you can’t see or smell radon, people tend to downplay the health effects and ignore the possibility that there might be a silent killer in their homes. Over the past ten years of the radon program, half of the homes in Greenwich have been found above the EPA action limit of 4.0 pCi/L. Radon, if discovered, can be remediated by qualified contractors for a cost similar to many other home repairs. Several residents who found their homes above the EPA action limit have taken advantage of this program and successfully installed mitigation systems to lower the amount of radon exposure.”

For more information on radon, radon testing and radon mitigation, call the Greenwich Department of Health Laboratory at 203-622-7843, visit the Department of Health website at Greenwichct.org or visit the CT Department of Public Health website at dph.state.ct.us.

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