Health Department of Northwest Michigan
serving Antrim, Charlevoix, Emmet, and Otsego Counties
Visit us at www.nwhealth.org
January is National Radon Action Month
The Health Department of Northwest Michigan is encouraging people to take simple and affordable steps to test their homes for harmful levels of radon gas as part of National Radon Action Month. Radon is an invisible, odorless, tasteless radioactive gas that comes from the natural breakdown of uranium in soil, rock, and water. It causes no immediate symptoms but is the number one cause of lung cancer among non-smokers and kills more than 21,000 each year in the United States.
“Radon is a dangerous health threat to our families and communities that can be easily avoided through simple testing,” said Scott Kendzierski, Director of Environmental Health Services. “This month, I urge everyone to test their homes.”
Nearly one of every 15 homes in the U.S. is estimated to have elevated radon levels. Simple steps to prevent this health hazard can be taken:
- Test: EPA and the U.S. Surgeon General recommend that all homes, both with and without basements, be tested for radon. Easy, do-it-yourself radon test kits are available at Health Department offices in Bellaire, Charlevoix, Petoskey/Harbor Springs and Gaylord for $15. Bring your property's tax identification number with you when you pick one up so the Health Department can map radon readings.
- Fix: EPA recommends taking action to fix radon levels above 4 picocuries per liter (pCi/L). Addressing high radon levels often costs the same as other minor home repairs. The Health Department can help you make a plan to reduce radon levels.
- Save a Life: By testing and fixing elevated levels of radon in your home, you can help prevent lung cancer and create a healthier home and community.
Radon can enter a home through cracks in the foundation or other openings, such as holes or pipes. Although radon can enter a home through the water supply, entry through the soil is a much larger risk. Radon in a home's water system is more likely when the home has a ground water source – such as a private well or public water supply system that uses ground water.
In addition to testing for radon, there now are safer and healthier radon-resistant construction techniques that home buyers can discuss with builders to prevent this health hazard.
In 2011, EPA announced the Federal Radon Action Plan, along with General Services Administration and the departments of Agriculture; Defense; Energy; Health and Human Services; Housing and Urban Development; Interior; and Veterans Affairs. This action plan will demonstrate the importance of radon risk reduction, address finance and incentive issues to drive testing and mitigation, and build demand for services from industry professionals.
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, contact Scott Johnson, Environmental Health Sanitarian, at 989-732-6863.