According to public health officials, radon was present at elevated levels in about 21% of homes that used radon test kits distributed through health department offices through 2007. Maps indicating EPA "action levels" for Antrim, Charlevoix, Emmet, and Otsego counties are posted on the Health Department website www.nwhealth.org.
Scott Kendzierski, Director of Environmental Health Services, said the only way to know if you are exposed to elevated radon levels is to test your home. "Fortunately, testing for radon is easy and inexpensive."
Radon kits can be purchased at hardware or home improvement stores, as well as at Health Department offices in Bellaire, Charlevoix, Petoskey/Harbor Springs, and Gaylord. If homeowners discover a radon problem, Health Department Environmental Health staff can help them find a solution.
Radon is a naturally occurring, invisible, odorless, tasteless gas that is dispersed in outdoor air, but which can reach harmful levels when trapped in buildings. Scientists have long been concerned about the health risks of radon, but never has there been such overwhelming proof that exposure to elevated levels of radon causes lung cancer in humans.
EPA estimates that radon is responsible for more than 20,000 lung cancer deaths per year. Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the U.S., after smoking, and the leading cause of lung cancer among non-smokers. "Since you can't see or smell radon, people can downplay its health effects," said Scott Kendzierski, Environmental Health Services Director for the Health Department.
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. Radon test kits are available for $15 at Health Department offices; bring your property tax identification number so results can be tracked. For additional information about radon or radon testing, telephone Scott Johnston, Environmental Health Sanitarian, at 989-732-1794 or visit www.epa.gov/radon.