The Passaic County Department of Health will again participate in the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Radon Bureau’s special radon awareness program to promote testing for radon in homes.

The department provides outreach assistance to promote radon testing in homes by providing county health departments with radon informational materials.

The state has also given Passaic's Department of Health with enough funds for purchase a limited amount of free radon test kits.

To reserve a kit, call 973-225-3651. Test kits will be available on a first-come first-served basis. The kits can be picked up at the county's Department of Health and a few local health departments.

Radon is a radioactive gas that occurs naturally when uranium breaks down in the soil and rock formations. Small amounts of uranium are found in nearly all soils and rocks. Radon gas moves up through the soil and finds its way into homes through cracks in the foundation and openings around sump pumps, pipes and drains. Testing is the only way for a homeowner to know if they or family members are at risk. Radon testing is easy and problems can be fixed, state officials said

Residents are being encouraged to re-test their homes if they have not been tested in the past five years or believe radon concentrations may have changed, due to changes in air flow within the house, from new construction or other renovations, or due to new construction nearby that may have caused changes in the local geology.

According to the county, high radon levels are associated with a greater risk of lung cancer. Radon is the leading cause of lung cancer for non-smokers. Overall, radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer resulting in approximately 21,000 deaths in the United States per year. It is recommended that homes be mitigated if they have radon concentrations of 4.0 pCi/L or more.

There is truly no “safe” level of radon since lung cancer can result from very low exposures to radon; however, the risk decreases as the radon concentration decreases. If test results are less than 4.0 pCi/L the homeowner may want to discuss with mitigation companies whether the radon level can be brought down still further. In about half of the homes that have been mitigated in New Jersey, radon levels have been brought to less than 1.0 pCi/L.

For a list of state certified companies that provide testing or remediation services, contact the NJDEP’s Radon Bureau at 800-648-0394 or www.njradon.org.

For more information on radon, contact Renee B. Allessio, right to know project specialist, at 973-225-3651.