New Jersey Environmental Public Health Tracking Program

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More Information About Radon

What is radon?

Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas, which has always been a part of our environment. It's a natural decay product of uranium and is found in soil everywhere in varying concentrations.

Radon gas can accumulate in enclosed places, such as a house, but its presence, even in high concentrations, cannot be detected by human senses because the gas is invisible and has no odor.  Long term or chronic exposure to radon has been linked to lung cancer.  The greater the concentration and the longer a person is exposed, the greater the risk, so all people are encouraged to reduce their exposure.  Specialized tests are the only way to detect the presence of radon gas and measure its concentration.  

How does radon affect my health?

As radon decays, radioactive decay products attach to dust and cigarette smoke particles, which can be inhaled and become trapped in the lungs where they emit radiation.  These decay products damage lung tissue, and increase the risk of developing lung cancer.  The higher the levels of radon gas in a home, the greater the amount inhaled.  The risk of lung cancer from a given exposure to radon is greater for a smoker than a non-smoker.

What is being done to protect New Jersey residents?

Many NJ residents live in moderate to high risk radon areas and it is recommended that all New Jersey residents test their home for radon.  The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) recommend that you take action to mitigate (fix) your home if your test results indicate radon levels equal to or higher than 4 pCi of radon per liter of air.  There is no safe level of radon since lung cancer can result from low exposures to radon, however, the risk decreases as the radon concentration decreases.  If your test result is less than 4 pCi/L, you may want to discuss with mitigation companies whether the radon level can be brought down still further.  In about half the homes that have been mitigated in New Jersey, radon levels have been brought to less than 1 pCi/L.

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