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Putnam County Department of Health

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A PHAB Accredited Health Department

The Putnam County Department of Health is made of several divisions all working towards improving and protecting the health of the community. Click on one of the options below to learn more about that division.

Free Radon Test Kits for Residents; Putnam Remains High Radon Zone

26 January 2024

BREWSTER, NY—Radon is a colorless, odorless gas…a silent health threat that is considered the number one-cause of lung cancer for people who don’t smoke. For those who do smoke, the combination can worsen health problems. In winter, when people spend more time indoors and seal up their homes to keep out the cold, the risk of exposure to radon rises. Fortunately, this January the New York State Department of Health is offering residents a free radon test kit while supplies last and encouraging people to test their homes.  When the supply of free kits runs out, the cost will be $12.25.  

Radon is a common environmental risk throughout Putnam County. It occurs naturally in the environment from the radioactive decay of uranium or thorium in the soil, and is present in rocks, soil, and water—nearly everywhere to varying degrees.  

The good news is that home test kits are easy to use and currently available free from NYS, with laboratory analysis and postage included. They are also easily available for purchase at most home repair and improvement stores for less than $15. Many purchased kits also come with free analysis and postage along with the testing device.  

Putnam is designated as a “Red Zone 1” area because it is considered at highest risk for elevated indoor radon by the Environmental Protection Agency, known as the EPA. Interim health commissioner Michael J. Nesheiwat, MD explains, “Indoor radon gas likely contributes to the higher rates of lung cancer in Putnam County, behind smoking, which is the number-one cause everywhere.” 

If radon is detected, there are things that can be done to correct the issues and not all of them are costly. Today homes can be constructed to be more radon resistant, but all homes, new and old, should be tested. If results show levels of 4 picocuries per liter of air (pCi/L) or higher, a radon reduction expert may be able to reduce the level to 2 pCi/L.   

Each home is different: one may have higher radon levels, while just next door the levels are within safe limits. Only a home test, typically set up in a basement area and left for a few days, can determine if radon has made its way inside. Routes of entry may include cracks in the foundation or concrete slab, exposed soil, loose-fitting pipes, or water, and are not always obvious. That is why testing is recommended every five years for homes without radon reduction systems. If radon has been identified as an issue in the home and a radon reduction system is in place, the NYS Department of Health recommends testing every two years to make sure it is working properly.  

The mission of the Putnam County Department of Health is to improve and protect the health of the Putnam County community. The department, nationally accredited by the Public Health Accreditation Board (PHAB), serves a community composed of nearly 100,000 residents. Core services are provided through a lens of equity, and include community health assessment, disease surveillance and control, emergency preparedness, environmental health protection, family health promotion and health education. For more information, please visit the County website at www.putnamcountyny.com, or visit our social media sites on Facebook, X (formerly known as Twitter) and Instagram @PutnamHealthNY. 

More information about radon and its risks is available on the NYS Department of Health website: https://www.health.ny.gov/environmental/radon/ 

To order your test kit: https://survey123.arcgis.com/share/82f9fce638024576af0e5a0af30ec445 

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Putnam County Office Building

40 Gleneida Avenue
Carmel, New York 10512

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