EPA Embarks on Innovative Research Projects to Reduce Radon Risk in Puerto Rico

News Releases from Region 02

01/14/2021

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NEW YORK – To mark National Radon Action Month, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced an innovative research project, to introduce community mapping of radon in Puerto Rico. The project will further expand the available data on radon risk in Puerto Rico and help quantify radon risk. Radon is a naturally occurring, invisible and odorless cancer-causing radioactive gas found in underlying soil, rock, and groundwater.

"Having your home tested is the only effective way to determine whether you and your family are exposed to high levels of radon," said EPA Regional Administrator Pete Lopez. "This year EPA is initiating a prevention-focused approach to safeguard the communities of Puerto Rico from radon risk through education, testing, and remedial action. The project will help identify opportunities for the Puerto Rico government and local officials to help residents understand radon and its potential risk and involve community members to prevent the risk of exposure to better protect their health."

Radon can seep through openings in floors or walls and build up in indoor air of homes, schools, and office buildings, potentially posing a serious health hazard. The extent of radon in Puerto Rico is not well-defined, which limits the ability for local governments to implement programs that would reduce radon risks. Traditional methods of radon testing require access to a certified laboratory for analysis. Puerto Rico communities do not have access to these laboratories. Also, typical methods are not logistically feasible on the island. EPA’s project will provide training to community members to measure radon levels using new electronic radon testing devices that are not affected by Puerto Rico’s humid climate or electrical instability.

This citizen science focused project enlists student volunteers and community members in seven municipalities that were in the path of Hurricane Maria to measure radon levels and will provide a map showing potential radon hot spots to support radon risk mitigation strategies.

A second project titled Expanding the Scale of Radon Measurement and Mitigation Techniques in Puerto Rico will advance efforts into a second phase focused on additional testing in more municipalities, confirmatory measurements of residences and other buildings tested, and include piloting radon mitigation options that are specifically designed for climate conditions and home construction techniques in the Caribbean. The combined results of these two projects will help to build capacity for responding to potential radon risks in Puerto Rico and help to lay the groundwork for future engagement on radon in the Caribbean.

Radon Hero Award

During this year’s National Radon Action Month, EPA is honoring long-time employee Lou Witt, who was posthumously awarded the “Radon Hero Award” by the Conference of Radiation Control Program Directors for his lifelong work and commitment to preventing lung cancer risks from radon. 

For more information National Radon Action Month, visit https://www.epa.gov/radon

Follow EPA Region 2 on Twitter at http://twitter.com/eparegion2 and visit our Facebook page, http://facebook.com/eparegion2

Para obtener más información sobre el Mes Nacional de Acción contra el Radón, visite https://espanol.epa.gov/cai/acerca-del-radon

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