JANUARY IS RADON ACTION MONTH
Local health departments throughout Somerset County have designated January as Radon Action Month in cooperation with the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Radon Program. Radon is a colorless, odorless gas formed from the breakdown or uranium and radon in rocks and soil. It can build up in homes and at a certain level and length of exposure, may be a cause of lung cancer.
Therefore, the Hillsborough Health Department will continue to distribute free radon test kits to residents on a first come, first served basis. Only one kit per residence will be distributed. Instructions are included. Results will come to the resident only, not the health department.
If you live in a house that was never tested and was built before 1992, these kits will help you to determine your risk and which prevention system, if any, is necessary. If you are selling your house, this test will not satisfy the radon test requirement, but it can be helpful to test before the sale to be aware of the level of radon present.
RADON IN THE HOME
What is Radon?
Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas caused by the natural decay of uranium found in soil. Due to the high uranium content found in the soils in Somerset County, houses in Hillsborough Township have the potential to have high levels of radon, but not every home will have high levels of radon- not even homes in the same neighborhood.
Why is Radon Dangerous?
Since radon is radioactive, it is labeled a “Class A” Carcinogen. It is both invisible and odorless. Radon is the second leading cause of Lung Cancer in the US and is responsible for between 15,000- 20,000 deaths per year.
How Does Radon Get Into My House?
Naturally occurring radon gas enters your house primarily through cracks and openings in the foundation of your home. Once inside, the gas is contained and can build to dangerous levels.
Who Should Test For Radon?
If your house was built prior to 1992, you should test your house for radon at least once. Houses built in Hillsborough Township after 1992 were required to be tested and built with a radon system regardless of radon levels found. It is not necessary to continually test for radon as the amount that enters your home does not change dramatically over time. However, there are times that retesting is advised. Please see the recommendations of the NJ Department of Environmental Protection at www.nj.gov/dep/rpp/radon/download/mitbas.pdf for further information about radon testing and mitigation.
How Do I Test My House For Radon?
Testing for Radon is a fairly inexpensive and simple task. Test kits are readily available at most home improvement stores for about $30. Make sure the kit has a NJ certification number on it that begins with MEB9 plus 4 digits, and follow instructions carefully. There are short and long-term kits. The short-term kits are simply opened and left to sit at the lowest level of your home(i.e. basement) for 2 to 4 days. Radon particles that enter your home during this time collect in the test kit. The kit is then sealed and mailed to a laboratory, which will analyze the kit and mail you the results. Please see the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection radon information about testing at:
What Do I Do If My House Has Radon?
The good news about radon is that it is fairly easy to get rid of. Radon mitigation companies can install a system in your house that will draw the air from under your house and expel it outside where it is quickly diluted by the air to safe levels. These systems vary in price but are approximately $1500 to install.
For more information, please see the above links and also:
www.njradon.org– the radon home page for NJ- includes a list of places to get testing done or kits to do it yourself.
www.epa.gov/radon for general radon information
Or CALL the NJDEP INFORMATION LINE AT: 1-800-648-0394
My Family Health Portrait
Family History is a Risk Factor for Chronic Disease and is one of the unchangeable risk factors such as age and sex that can have a significant effect on risk for certain diseases, including heart disease. Please see My Family Health Portrait at familyhistory.hhs.gov to keep track of your risk of chronic illness.
Risk Factors for Heart Disease Awareness Campaign Project for Hillsborough Township, New Jersey.
Click here for more information.
Annual Disease Statistics
Click here to view the statistics for the State of New Jersey.
*NEW* – Head Lice
*NEW* – Hepatitis B & C
Lyme Disease is one of the most prevalent communicable diseases in New Jersey. It is not communicable person to person, but it is carried by a “vector”. It is caused by a spirochete (curvy shaped) bacterium, which is carried by the deer tick (now called the black-legged tick- the vector) to animals and people. Not all black-legged ticks carry Lyme Disease, and it is believed that a tick must be feeding on the host for at least 24 hours for infection to occur.
University of Rhode Island Tickencounter Resource Center
Click here for more information.
Sexually Transmitted Disease
The number of diagnosed Sexually Transmitted Disease cases in the US increases each year. Half of all 20 million newly diagnosed STD infections are in people ages 15 to 24. If left untreated, these diseases can cause infertility, as well as other serious health problems. One kind of STD, the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), can cause cancer, but it can now be prevented by vaccinating adolescents. Information about this vaccination is on the Hillsborough Health Department website. Many of these diseases can be cured or treated and all it takes is to GET YOURSELF TESTED. The Centers for Disease Control Recommends regular testing by risk level for early detection, and you can read more about it at the CDC link on the Hillsborough Website under “health” and “disease prevention”. You can be tested at your physician’s office, or at Zufall Health in Somerville, or other locations in NJ. Links to these sources re available on the on the Health Department Website.
April is also Sexual Assault Awareness Month. The Health Department would like to recognize Zufall Health in Somerville for their Sexual Assault Prevention and Recovery Services, Survivor accompaniment to the police station, hospital, court and Counseling Services. Their Confidential Hotline number is: 908-526-7444
Planning a trip out of the United States? Visit the CDC Travel Information page to for travel health notices, updates and vaccine information.
Zika Virus is the newest mosquito-borne virus to be reported circulating in different parts of the world. Like Zika, the Chikungunya, and Dengue Viruses are also new mosquito-borne viruses that have been circulating. Zika virus is carried by certain types of mosquitoes, that don’t live in NJ, but may live in warmer climates in the U.S. However, there is a new resident mosquito in New Jersey, the Asian Tiger Mosquito (Aedes albopiticus), that can possibly carry these diseases, so we must watch for this occurrence.
There have not been any cases of Zika that have originated in people within the US, only in several people who returned from travel outside the country to areas where Zika has been spreading. Please read the information at the Centers for Disease Control link:www.cdc.gov/zika, about Zika Virus. You can also read about other types of diseases similar to Zika at nj.gov/health/cd/topics/vectorborne.shtml. If you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant, and are planning travel or have recently returned from Zika affected areas, please read all information on the Centers for Disease Control and NJ Department of Health websites, and speak to your physician, to be sure to exercise precautions advised, or to have testing done as per the recommendations posted. If you are a man returning from Zika infected areas, please also read the advisories and testing information. It is possible that Zika can be spread from a man through semen. So it is important to follow recommendations for prevention.
Also, please see the travel advisories regarding Zika, especially for the protection of pregnant women, and women who are planning to become pregnant at wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/page/zika-information. This link also gives information about travel advisories to for different areas of the world.
The NJ Department of Health and local health departments will monitor this disease through surveillance, and as usual, mosquito control efforts and surveillance are important to controlling the spread of these diseases to the US and New Jersey. At this time, we do not have any cases of these diseases that have originated here in NJ. Please see
Please see http://www.co.somerset.nj.us/government/public-works/roads-bridges/mosquito-control/faqs to learn about the importance of mosquito control and what you can do in our area to control mosquito-borne illness.
Please call the Hillsborough Health Department if you have any questions or concerns.
Check back in August for information on how to prepare for the upcoming flu season