Health officials urge residents to test for radon

Health officials urge residents to test for radon

Radon exposure does not cause any symptoms immediately, yet extended exposure to elevated radon levels increases one's risk of lung cancer.

Radon is a naturally occurring, invisible, odorless, radioactive gas that develops in the soil. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates 21,000 Americans die each year from radon-caused lung cancer, killing more people than secondhand smoke, drunk driving, house fires and unintentional carbon monoxide poisoning combined. "While there could be a very low level of radon at one home, there can be a very high level at the house next door".

While radon comes from the decay in uranium and is found in nearly all soil types, it isn't content to stay put.

"Anywhere, you can get radon", McNeill said. "Since you can't see or smell radon, people tend to forget the health effects that radon can have", says Meghan Williams, Environmental Health Specialist for Lincoln County Health Department.

The Macomb County Health Department is stressing radon testing in the home by giving away free testing kits to the public.

The Outagamie County Public Health Department says the only way to know if you have a safe level of radon inside your home is to conduct a radon test.

The do-it-yourself test kits are available at the Macomb County Health Department, 43525 Elizabeth Road in Mount Clemens, as well as at the Warren office at 27690 Van Dyke Ave.

The risk to smokers increases significantly when living in a high-radon environment, such as our area. Options for remediation of radon in the home are available at the CDPH Indoor Radon Program. Perform a radon test after installing a new heating system or central air conditioning.

The good news is test kits are pretty cheap at $10. Twenty-nine percent of homes tested were above the 4 picoCuries per liter of air threshold.

After leaving the opened kit in the room for the recommended amount of monitoring time, send it to the laboratory for analysis. If high levels of radon are detected, licensed contractors can install mitigation systems to eliminate the problem and protect you and your family. According to the EPA, mitigation systems can cost between $800 and $2,500 with an average cost of $1,200.