PUTNAM COUNTY, N.Y. -- Putnam County health officials are warning residents that more than 32 percent of homes have been deemed "high risk" for radon.
The colorless, odorless gas is the leading cause of lung cancer among non-smokers in the U.S. For those who smoke, it greatly magnifies the cancer risk, said officials with the Putnam County Department of Health.
Radon occurs naturally in the environment, from the radioactive decay of uranium or thorium in the soil and it can seep into homes or ground water.
“Radon contributes to the high lung cancer death rate in Putnam County,” says Dr. Michael J. Nesheiwat, interim health commissioner. “It is not just smoking. The only way to know if you have high radon levels in your home is to test it. New homes can be built using radon-resistant construction. Old homes must be tested and if levels are high, steps can be taken to reduce the risk. The first step is to perform a test.”
The state offers radon testing kits for purchase by mail for $11, or they can be bought inexpensively at local home and hardware stores, Nesheiwat said.
The state health department test is a short-term test that remains in the home for a few days. The kit is then sealed and mailed in for analysis. The lab fee is included in the original $11 charge and results are usually returned to the homeowner within a few weeks.
If elevated levels are found, the problem can be fixed. Costs vary and inexpensive solutions can correct some situations, he added.
For more information about radon, or to order a kit (NYS residents only), visit the New York State Department of Health website or the New York Radon Information website .