January is National Radon Action Month and the Western Upper Peninsula Health Department is offering free radon test kits to encourage home owners to protect their families from exposure to radon gas. Radon in indoor air is estimated to cause about 21,000 lung cancer deaths each year in the United States and is a significant risk in the Western Upper Peninsula. The health risk of living with prolonged radon exposure can be prevented by testing with a free radon test kit and if necessary, inexpensive home repair.
Radon is a naturally occurring, radioactive gas that can enter your home and can cause lung cancer. Radon comes from the bedrock and soil surrounding homes and can enter through cracks and openings in the foundation. Because you can’t see or smell radon, people tend to downplay the health effects or ignore the possibility that there might be a lung cancer risk in their own home.
The only way to know if you and your family are at risk for radon exposure is to test your home. Conducting a radon test is as easy as opening a package, placing the test kit in a designated area and after a set number of days, sending the test kit to the lab for analysis. Free test kits are available at every health department office.
If your home does have an elevated level of radon, a qualified contractor can make repairs to solve the problem and protect your family. There are several proven methods to reduce radon in homes, but the one primarily used is a vent pipe and a fan which pulls radon gas from beneath the house and vents it to the outside.
The health department encourages new home builders to use radon-resistant construction techniques when designing and building new homes in the Western Upper Peninsula. With the prevalence of radon in our local soils, building radon-resistant new homes is smart planning. Radon venting features are easy to install at the time of construction and serve a dual purpose- the system can also help to keep basements drier and prevent mold growth.
The Western Upper Peninsula Health Department urges residents of our community to take action this January- National Radon Action Month- by testing your home for radon. For more information about radon, how to obtain a free radon test kit, radon mitigation, and radon-resistant new home construction, stop by your local Western Upper Peninsula Health Department office or call (906) 482-7382.