SOUTH ORANGE, NJ — The South Orange Department of Health is distributing radon-testing kits to village families, free of charge. Supplies are limited, so interested residents should not wait to pick them up. The kits will only work for homes that currently touch the ground.
Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas, which has always been a part of the environment. It is produced by the natural decay of uranium and is found in soil everywhere in varying concentrations. The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection and the United States Environmental Protection Agency have found that radon can also be an unwelcome part of the home environment.
Radon can move easily through soil and tiny cracks in rock. When it reaches the surface of the soil, it disperses and is diluted to very low levels in the outdoor environment. However, when the gas moves upward through soil beneath a home, it may enter through cracks or other openings in the foundation and build up to unacceptable levels.
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. However, because of its physical characteristics, the only way to detect the presence of radon gas and measure the level is by a test. So people wanting to limit their exposure must first conduct a test to determine what their exposure levels are.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the health department will not be accepting walk-ins to obtain a kit. However, if a resident would like a test kit, along with additional educational materials, call the South Orange Department of Health at 973-378-7715, ext. 7710. A pickup time for the kit will be scheduled with the caller.