WOOD RIVER — January is National Radon Action Month and Madison County Health Department is emphasizing the importance of testing homes for radon.
For January, MCHD is offering radon test kits for $5 each for residents to check the radon level in their home. 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. More than 20,000 lung cancer deaths each year in the United States are caused by radon exposure.
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. Radon can find a route into a home through sump pits, foundation cracks, gaps in suspended floors, construction joints and exposed soil in crawl spaces. Although a much smaller risk, radon also can enter a home through water 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 (pCi/L), a measurement of radioactivity. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the average indoor radon level in the United States is about 1.3 pCi/L. Illinois Emergency Management Agency 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.
Throughout January, MCHD is offering radon test kits for $5 each, which includes all testing fees and pre-paid postage to mail the kit. Residents can come to MCHD to purchase a radon test kit during regular business hours (8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.) at 101 E. Edwardsville Road, Wood River. When a resident picks up a test kit at MCHD, a staff member will assist the individual with the instructions on using the test kit, as well as provide information regarding radon, radon measurement and radon mitigation. Additionally, should radon test results show a high level of radon, MCHD can provide a list of licensed radon measurement professionals and licensed radon mitigation professionals for follow-up.
For information about the MCHD radon test kits, call (618) 692-8954, ext. 3. For information about National Radon Action Month, visit www.epa.gov/radon/nram/. For information about radon, visit www.madisonchd.org/environmental-health_radon.shtml or IEMA at www.radon.illinois.gov.