WOOD RIVER – Madison County Health Department is emphasizing the importance of having homes tested for radon.
Low-cost radon test kits are available from Madison County Health Department. Radon is a significant environmental cancer risk. Radon is the leading cause of lung cancer among non-smokers and the second-leading cause of lung cancer among smokers. Radon exposure causes more than 20,000 U.S. lung cancer deaths each year.
Radon is a colorless, odorless, tasteless and invisible gas that occurs naturally in the soil. It is produced by the natural breakdown of uranium and radium in rock formations. Radon typically enters a home by moving up from the soil and through cracks and holes in the foundation. Features such as sump pits, foundation cracks, gaps in suspended floors, construction joints and exposed soil in crawl spaces are areas where radon may find a route into a home. Although a much smaller risk, radon can also enter a home through water that is obtained from the ground, such as from water wells. Once inside a home, radon gas can build up and create a hazard.
The only way for homeowners to know if radon is present is to test for it. Testing is easy, inexpensive and convenient, taking only three days. Tests should be done on the lowest level of the home that is frequently occupied. Tests should not be done in kitchens, bathrooms, laundry rooms or utility rooms. Radon is measured in picocuries per liter of air, a measurement of radioactivity. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the average indoor radon level in the U.S. is about 1.3 picocuries per liter of air. Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) reports that the average indoor radon level in Illinois is about 4.9 pCi/L. The U.S. Surgeon General and EPA recommend fixing homes with radon levels at or above 4pCi/L. Radon is a preventable health threat through testing and mitigation. Radon problems can be fixed and usually cost is similar to common home repairs.
“With the presence of radon in this geographic area, we encourage residents to take advantage of this opportunity and test for radon in their homes,” said Mary Cooper, Madison County Health Department Environmental Health Manager. MCHD has radon test kits for $5 each, including all testing fees and pre-paid postage to mail the kit for your results. Residents can come to MCHD to purchase radon test kits during regular business hours at 101 E. Edwardsville Road, Wood River.
If you choose to purchase a test kit from MCHD, a staff member will assist you with the instructions on using the test kit, as well as, give you valuable information regarding radon, radon measurement and radon mitigation. Additionally, should your radon test results show a high level of radon in your home, MCHD can provide you with a list of licensed radon measurement professionals and licensed radon mitigation professionals for follow-up.
As of Jan. 1, 2013, legislation went into effect in Illinois requiring that licensed daycares be tested for radon. As of Jan. 1, as part of both initial and renewal licensing processes for daycares, proof of testing for radon is required.
For information about the MCHD Radon test kits, call (618) 692-8954 x 3.
For information about radon, visit our website at www.madisonchd.org/environmental-health_radon.shtml or IEMA at www.radon.illinois.gov.