Starting in May, the South Orange Department of Health will be distributing radon kits to families, free of charge. Supplies are limited, so interested residents should not wait to pick them up. The kits will only work for homes that currently touch the ground.
Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas, which has always been a part of our environment. It's a natural decay product of uranium and is found in soil everywhere in varying concentrations. The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have found that radon can also be an unwelcome part of our home environment.
Radon can move easily through soil and tiny cracks in rock. When it reaches the surface of the soil, it disperses and is diluted to very low levels in the outdoor environment. However, when the gas moves upward through soil beneath a home, it may enter through cracks or other openings in the foundation and build up to unacceptable levels.
Radon gas can accumulate in enclosed places, such as a house, but its presence, even in high concentrations, cannot be detected by human senses because the gas is invisible and has no odor. Long term or chronic exposure to radon has been linked to lung cancer. The greater the concentration and the longer a person is exposed, the greater the risk, so all people are encouraged to reduce their exposure. However, because of its physical characteristics, the only way to detect the presence of radon gas and measure the level is by a test. So people wanting to limit their exposure must first conduct a test to determine what their exposure levels are.
To obtain a test kit, along with additional educational materials, please call the South Orange Department of Health at 973-378-7715, ext 7710, or come to the office at 76 South Orange Avenue, Suite 302. Kits will not be mailed, so someone will have to be able to pick it up during normal business hours.