SPRINGFIELD, NJ — Residents can test their homes for a potential cause of lung cancer as part of Radon Action Week, a new township initiative aimed at educating homeowners of the dangerous effects of the naturally occurring radioactive gas.
“We are proud to announce that Springfield received a grant from funded by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection to provide a valuable life-saving service to residents at no cost,” Springfield Administrator Ziad Shehady said in a Feb. 1 press release.
The township has received $2,000 worth of specialized test kits and residents are encouraged to use them to test their homes, and learn more about the risks of the chemical element.
“We’re expecting over 100 people to participate,” Shehady told LocalSource in a Feb. 20 email.
Radon is a colorless, tasteless and odorless gas released by the breakdown of naturally occurring uranium found in soil and rock. Its invisibility makes testing critical for its discovery.
Radon Action Week is March 5 to 9, and interested residents are asked to reserve their free radon kits by visiting www.springfield-nj.us/radon. The kits can be picked up that week between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. at the building department, located inside the Springfield Municipal Annex at 20 North Trivett Ave.
Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States and causes 15,000 to 22,000 deaths per year.
“Radon enters homes through openings that are in contact with the ground, such as cracks in the foundation, small openings around pipes and sump pits,” Anita Kopera the NJDEP radon supervisor, told LocalSource in a Feb. 21 email.
According to the NJDEP, Union County is located in a “tier two zone.” This means there is moderate radon potential with at least 25 homes having tested with 5 to 24 percent radon concentrations greater than or equal to the minimum level required for its removal.
“The DEP and the (federal) Environmental Protection Agency both recommend that residents take action to mitigate, if results indicate radon levels of 4 pCi/L or more,” Kopera said.
She said the most common type of mitigation is the sub-slab depressurization system, which “uses venting and sealing to lower radon levels in the home. A pipe is installed that runs from below the basement flooring to above the roofline, with a fan that draws radon out from under the slab. The radon is vented through the pipe to the outside, where it is quickly diluted.”
Outside of Springfield, the NJDEP encourages all communities in the state to test for radon, which is why the organization is partnering with municipalities throughout the state.
Northwestern N.J. communities closer to the border of Pennsylvania — such as Warren, Hunterdon, Sussex — are located in “tier one zones,” and have higher concentrations of radon potential.
According to Kopera, this is due to the uranium-rich geological formation known as the “Reading Prong,” which stretches from Pennsylvania through northwestern New Jersey into southern New York.
“Testing of homes built along this geologic formation has revealed high indoor levels of radon gas,” Kopera added. “Further testing in New Jersey, beyond the Reading Prong area, has shown additional areas where homes have elevated radon levels.”
The NJDEP recommends that all homeowners test and, if levels are elevated, residents are urged to consider mitigation.