January is National Radon Action month, which is especially important in Cortland County where homes have the highest average basement and first floor radon level readings in all of New York State.
It’s also been designated as a high radon risk area by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the state Department of Health.
Radon is a colorless, odorless gas that’s considered the second leading cause of lung cancer after smoking, which the EPA estimates to kill more than 20,000 Americans every year.
Although it’s found naturally underground, the problem with radon gas begins when it leaks into a home through cracks in the foundation or gaps around plumbing.
Indoor exposure becomes a health hazard when the gas infiltrates the home and is breathed in for a long period of time.
In addition to foundational and plumbing vulnerabilities, radon can enter a home through cracks in solid floors and walls, concrete slabs and construction joints, loose fitting pipes, exposed soil and water.
Because it’s impossible to detect with human senses, the only way to know the radon levels in your home is to test it.
Free kits are available to all Cortland County residents through the Department of Health, which can be retrieved by contacting the Healthy Neighborhoods Program at 607-428-5410.
Radon levels can vary greatly from home-to-home, even if they’re located in the same neighborhood.
Dangerous levels can be lowered through gradual mitigation and new homes can even be constructed to be radon-resistant.