January 8 – Exposure to a dangerous, odorless, invisible gas--radon--ranks as the number one in-home hazard for Americans, according to a recent Harvard University study. Radon is a naturally-occurring, radioactive gas that disperses in open air, but can become a serious threat when trapped in a home or other building. Hazardous radon levels are detected in one out of 15 American homes, and radon is the leading cause of lung cancer for non-smokers.
January is Radon Action Month. The Health Department of Northwest Michigan offers radon test kits at a cost of $15 to help families check for and eliminate this silent killer from their homes. Test kits can be picked up during regular business hours at Health Department offices in Bellaire, Charlevoix, Petoskey/Harbor Springs and Gaylord. A Property Tax ID number is required at the time of purchase, to help map radon levels in the four-county Health District. Radon maps can be found at www.nwhealth.org under Programs and Services ~ Environmental Health Services ~ Radon.
According to Scott Kendzierski, the Health Department's Director of Environmental Health Services, testing is the only way to know if you and your family are being exposed to dangerous levels of radon.
"Fortunately, testing for radon is easy and inexpensive,” he said. “If you discover that your home does have a problem, the Health Department can provide free consultation and, if needed, help you find a contractor to correct the problem."
Kendzierski says radon mitigation systems are readily available through local contractors and are widely used, with excellent results that can decrease the presence of radon in a home by as much as 99 percent. Depending on the size and type of home, systems can range from a few hundred dollars up to about $2,500.
“It's peace of mind to know your home doesn't have a radon hazard,” he added. “And if it does, then fixing the problem now is essential, even if you plan to sell your home in the future.”
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.nwhealth.org.