Governor Rick Snyder has designated January as Radon Action Month in Michigan. The Shiawassee County Health Department urges area residents to test their homes for radon by providing “Free” radon test kits during Radon Action Month.
Joining with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Michigan Department of Environment Quality (MDEQ), the Health Department is observing January 2016 as Radon Action Month, an annual event representing a national effort to encourage Americans to test their home for radon, and, as necessary, take action to reduce exposure to elevated levels.
Radon is a colorless, odorless, tasteless radioactive gas that occurs naturally in soil and rock. It moves upward through the soil and enters buildings through cracks and openings in the foundation, including floor/wall joints, sump openings and crawl spaces. Outdoors, the atmosphere dilutes radon, but indoors it tends to be more concentrated and can accumulate to unhealthy levels.
Exposure to radon increases one’s risk of developing lung cancer. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States and is responsible for approximately 20,000 deaths nationally each year.
A statewide survey indicates that elevated levels of radon would be expected in one out of eight homes in Michigan. In some counties, as many as 45 percent of homes could have radon test levels above EPA recommended action guidelines of four (4) picocuries per liter of air. Many of the homes in Shiawassee County may have elevated levels of radon, placing some area residents at risk of developing lung cancer from prolonged exposure to these levels.
Less than two percent of homes in Shiawassee County have been tested for radon gas. Of those houses that have been tested, many have been found to have elevated radon levels that required mitigation. Radon levels vary considerably from house to house. The only way to find out if an individual home has elevated levels is to conduct a test.
Testing is easy and inexpensive. Kits are available year round from the Health Department for $5. However, during Radon Action Month, kits are available at “No Charge.” Kits can be obtained at the Shiawassee County Health Department, 201 N. Shiawassee, third floor of the Surbeck Building in Corunna. Some hardware stores, home centers and other retail outlets also sell the do-it-yourself test kits. Professional testing services are also available, though they are most often used for testing as part of a real estate transaction.
Citizens interested in finding out more about radon can contact the Shiawassee County Health Department in Corunna at (989) 743-2392. Health Department offices are open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Information is also available by calling the MDEQ toll-free information line at 1-800-RADON GAS (1-800-723-6642).