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. While it causes no immediate symptoms, it 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, including having your home tested for radon. Do-it-yourself kits are available at the Health Department of Northwest Michigan offices in Bellaire, Charlevoix, Petoskey and Gaylord for $15. Bring your property’s tax identification number.
Also, the department can help you make a plan to reduce your radon levels.
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.
For information, contact Scott Johnston of Health Department of Northwest Michigan at (989) 732-6863.