According to public health officials, radon was present at elevated levels in about 20% of the homes that were tested through the health department in recent years.
"Any home can have a radon problem. It doesn’t matter if its old or new, energy efficient or drafty, built over a basement or on a slab. One house can have elevated radon levels next door to another one that does not," said Scott Kendzierski, Director of Environmental Health Services for the Health Department of Northwest Michigan. "Radon has no warning signs like headaches, nausea, or fatigue so the only way to know if you are exposed it to test for it. Fortunately, testing for radon is easy and inexpensive."
If radon readings are high, Kendzierski said Health Department Environmental Health staff can help homeowners find a solution.
Radon is a tasteless, odorless, colorless, radioactive gas that is naturally occurring in soil and rock. It enters buildings through openings in the foundation floor or walls like crawlspaces, cracks, or duct work. Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer, after smoking.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates radon is responsible for more than 20,000 lung cancer deaths per year in the U.S. "Since you can't see or smell radon, people can downplay its health effects," said Kendzierski.
When you pick up your free radon test kit, bring your property tax identification number so results can be tracked. After National Radon Awareness Week, radon test kits are available at health department offices for $15, which includes the analysis and report.
The Health Department of Northwest Michigan is mandated by the Michigan Public Health Code to promote wellness, prevent disease, provide quality healthcare, address health problems of vulnerable populations, and protect the environment for the residents and visitors of Antrim, Charlevoix, Emmet, and Otsego counties. For additional information about radon or radon testing, telephone Scott Johnston, Environmental Health Sanitarian, at 989-732-1794 or visit www.epa.gov/radon.