Jan 24, 2011

New Hampshire DES Raises Awareness of Radon in Drinking Water and Air

DES will give out free radon test kits in honor of National Radon Action Month

The New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services (DES), in recognition of January as National Radon Action Month, is encouraging homeowners to test their homes for radon. Radon awareness is particularly important to New Hampshire residents because the state has higher-than-average radon exposure potential. About 25% of the state’s homes have radon levels above the U.S. Environmental Protections Agency’s (EPA) recommended health-based action level.

Radon is the second largest cause of lung cancer in the United States and the leading cause among non-smokers. Nationally, EPA estimates that radon is responsible for more than 20,000 lung cancer deaths a year; data suggest that it may be responsible for as many as 100 lung cancer deaths a year in New Hampshire.

Radon is a tasteless, colorless and odorless radioactive gas. It comes from the natural breakdown of uranium in soil and rocks, and can get into air and drinking water. The only way to know if it is a problem in a home is to test for it.

In general, the migration of radon up from the soil contributes the largest percentage of radon found in the average home. Water from a private well, particularly a bedrock well, also known as an artesian or drilled well, can also be a source of radon in the home. DES recommends testing the indoor air in your home and your private well for radon.

Testing for radon in both air and water is an important part of protecting public health. It is inexpensive and easy. Elevated levels of radon in the air and water can be remediated.

Starting Jan. 10, DES began offering a limited supply of free radon test kits to the public. Kits will be given out on a first come first served basis.