News Release

Health Department of Northwest Michigan
serving Antrim, Charlevoix, Emmet, and Otsego Counties
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Free radon test kits available at Health Department offices January 17-21
January is National Radon Action Month

(January 14, 2011) The Health Department of Northwest Michigan is waiving the $15 fee for radon test kits the week of January 17-21 to encourage testing during National Radon Action Month. Free test kits--which include the testing device, postage to send the device to a laboratory, laboratory analysis, and report--are available at Health Department offices in Bellaire, Charlevoix, Petoskey/Harbor Springs. Be sure to bring your Tax Identification Number with you so the Health Department can map results to identify areas with high radon readings. Kits are also available from some hardware stores and home improvement centers, but they don't always include postage and analysis, so be sure to read the packaging carefully.

Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States and the leading cause among nonsmokers. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that radon results in more than 600 lung cancer deaths in Michigan annually.

"Radon levels can vary significantly from home to home," said Scott Kendzierski, Director of Environmental Health. "You can't smell it, taste it, or see it. The only way to know if your family is at risk for radon exposure is to do the test."

The Health Department provides free consultation to help you develop a mitigation plan if needed, he said.

Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas found in almost any kind of soil or rock. It travels through the ground and, when released to the atmosphere, it is quickly diluted. When it enters a building through openings in the foundation floor or walls, it tends to be more concentrated than outdoors. Exposure to radon over time increases one's risk of contracting lung cancer.

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, call your local Health Department office.