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Greenspace: Too many people still not testing for radon in homes

Radon wasn't always a household word - and for some, it still isn't, although it should be.

Better not to wind up like Stanley and Diane Watras.

In 1984, before anyone knew that the radioactive gas could make its way into homes, and that parts of Pennsylvania and New Jersey are radon hot spots, Watras set off radiation alarms when he reported for work at the Limerick nuclear power plant, then under construction.

Subsequent investigation focused on his home in Boyertown, Berks County, where technicians found the highest radon levels they had yet seen in the United States - about 675 times the maximum level permitted in a uranium mine.

In a way, he was lucky. He was alerted to a problem he hadn't known he had.

Officials began testing more homes, and household radon testing became a national campaign that continues to this day.

Radon is a colorless, odorless, radioactive gas that forms during the breakdown of naturally occurring uranium in soils and rocks.

Free Radon Testing Kits in Northern Tier

Free Radon Testing Kits in Northern Tier

WILKES-BARRE, PA. (NEWS RELEASE) – Free home radon test kits are available to residents of nine counties in northeast and north-central Pennsylvania, thanks to a $75,000 grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection to the American Lung Association, or ALA.
The kits are offered to residents of Bradford, Clinton, Lycoming, Northumberland, Potter, Schuylkill, Sullivan, Susquehanna and Tioga counties.

“These test kits equip residents with information needed to confront the dangers of having radon in our homes,” DEP Secretary Mike Krancer said. “By providing this vital tool, DEP and ALA are making sure residents stay safe and informed.”

The testing is part of a three-year, community-based program ALA sponsors to promote radon awareness in Pennsylvania. The first year of the program is focused on the northeast region, which ALA has identified as having lower radon testing rates and greater likelihood of elevated radon levels than other areas of the state.