2014-01-09 / Community

Radon action month underway

Free testing kits at local health dept.

LANSING – January 2014 is Radon Action Month in Michigan. Declared by Gov. Rick Snyder, the month is all about encouraging Michigan residents to learn more about this environmental hazard and to test their homes during the coming heating season.

Radon is a tasteless, odorless, colorless, radioactive gas that occurs naturally in soil and rock. It normally travels up and out to the atmosphere where it is quickly diluted, but when it is trapped under a foundation, it can leak into the home through cracks and openings in the floors and walls. Exposure over time can increase the risk of lung cancer.

Radon is believed to be the second leading cause of lung cancer in the U.S. and the leading cause among nonsmokers. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that exposure to radon results in more than 21,000 lung cancer deaths each year, including more than 600 in Michigan.

Residential surveys estimate that more than one in eight Michigan homes likely have a radon problem. Some counties have higher incidence rates than others, but elevated radon levels have been found in homes in every Michigan county. There are no warning signs, so each home must be tested. Radon screening measurements require closed house conditions, so it is best to do the test during winter heating season when doors and windows normally are kept closed.

Testing is easy and inexpensive, and the DEQ is partnering with local health departments and tribal communities to ensure that radon test kits and literature are accessible to all Michigan residents.

The Luce, Mackinac, Alger, Schoolcraft Health Department office offers free kits (for use 3-7 days), which also include postage to send the kit for analysis.

LMAS is open every Monday through Thursday from 8 a.m. – 4 p.m. in Manistique, Munising, Newberry and St. Ignace. Contact the department at (800) 562-4832 or on the web at www.lmasdhd.org.

Kits also can be found at some hardware stores and home improvement centers or be purchased online directly from radon test kit manufacturers.

The DEQ urges Michigan residents to take action by testing their homes for radon. For more information about radon, visit http:// www.michigan.gov/deq/0,4561,7- 135-3310_ 4105_ 4196---,00.html, or call the DEQ’s Indoor Radon Program at (800) 723-6642 for a free packet of information.

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