Cortland County offering free radon test kits (Information Included)

(Photo via the Cortland County Health Department).

The Cortland County Health Department is offering free radon charcoal canister test kits in an effort to lower levels of radon throughout the area.

In accordance with Radon Action Month, the county’s radon program provides testing kits free-of-charge to homeowners through a $10,000 New York State Indoor Air Radon grant they receive on an annual basis.

The testing kits, said county public health educator Liz Nichols, are an effort to discover what’s occurring in a county resident’s home and what they and their families are potentially being exposed to.

According to Nichols, Cortland County has the highest average basement and first floor radon readings in the state, which is due to the county’s geology, she added. High radon readings have also been found in neighboring counties, including Onondaga, Tioga and more.

“With glacier deposits, the county was left with radon that forms naturally from the decay and the breaking down of radioactive elements,” Nichols said, which includes uranium.

The county being one of the largest aquifers in the state also plays a role in radon levels, Nichols added.

“It’s found in different amounts in our soil and rock,” she said. “It can be found in underground water and surface water.”

It’s why testing kits, Nichols said, are vitally important to be used in homes in the county.

“Knowledge can help reduce the risk because then people are going to take action when they know something is going on in their home,” she added.

County residents can call Nichols at 607-428-5410 and request a kit. Those interested in a kit can also fill out a form located here on the county’s website. Nichols will follow-up with a phone call. 

The kits, she added, can be mailed to an individual’s home.

Nichols noted the testing kits provide education and instructions on how to set them up. If residents need further assistance, they can request a county health department staff member to visit their home, help with the paperwork and set up the test.

Radon test kit results are received right from a lab. Individuals can then call the county health department and request a breakdown of the results.

If issues or a high radon reading stems from the test, individuals should seek immediate professional assistance by reaching out to certified mitigators. Nichols noted the county health department has a list of certified mitigators from the state.

“We want to make sure people are going to those professionals that are certified and know they’re doing proper work for families and homeowners,” she said.

The certified mitigators install a mitigation system in the basement of a home to bring the radon levels down to a level that’s acceptable, or clear radon detection in the indoor air. County residents can implement other radon-reducing measures, including sealing up cracks in the basement.

“It’s totally preventable and can be fixed,” Nichols said. “We want to encourage testing and fixing because it’s linked to lung cancer and it can save lives.”

For more information, click here. The county also provides a video here, where Nichols is part of a discussion about radon.