Public Information, Education Draw Attention to Dangers of Exposure to Indoor Radon
ERIE COUNTY, NY— Today, Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz proclaimed January as “Radon Action Month” and urged residents to learn more about the hazards posed by exposure to elevated levels of indoor radon. More than 20,000 deaths are related to radon exposure each year, with radon exposure identified as the second-leading cause of lung cancer deaths in the United States and as the number one cause among non-smokers. Nationally, only 6% of homes have elevated radon levels; however, in Erie County radon is present at elevated levels in approximately 23% of homes, according to the NYS Department of Health.
“The dangers posed by this unseen menace are real, and I encourage all residents to test their homes for this colorless, odorless killer,” said Poloncarz. “A radon test kit, which can be easily obtained, is the best way to identify the presence of radon in your home, and a crucial first step in dealing with the problem. Please don’t hesitate to take this vital measure to protect yourself and your loved ones.”
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) has designated January as National Radon Action Month and has also identified Erie County as Zone 1, their highest radon risk category. The Erie County Department of Environment and Planning (“DEP”), in conjunction with EPA and the NYS Department of Health, will strengthen efforts throughout the month to increase public education about the dangers of radon and what can be done to minimize the health risk from exposure to elevated levels of indoor radon. Testing is the only way to determine levels of radon in a structure; DEP has radon testing kits available for $8.00 at www.erie.gov/radon .
Radon is a naturally-occurring chemical element formed as an indirect decay product of uranium, and is found in nearly all soils; it is also found in bedrock such as granite and shale. The concentration of radon gas in the soil or rock is related to the amount of uranium present. A radioactive noble gas, radon moves up through the ground to the air above and into homes and other buildings through cracks and other holes in the foundation; it may also enter the home through well water. The radon concentration in a home is dependent on the type of soil the home is built on; ventilation rates and air flow patterns are important factors that affect how much radon is pulled into different areas within the home.
For more information on radon in Erie County, visit: www.erie.gov/radon
 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency report; Health Risks: EPA’s Assessment of Risks from Radon in Homes. June 2003. Report available at http://www.epa.gov/radiation/docs/assessment/402-r-03-003.pdf
 New York State Department of Health report; Measured Basement Screening Radon Levels by County- October 2011. Report available at http://www.health.ny.gov/environmental/radiological/radon/county.htm