A radon test kit.
WOOD RIVER — January is National Radon Action Month and Madison County Health Department is emphasizing the importance of testing homes for radon.
For the month of January, the department wants to help residents take action to learn about radon and the radon levels in their home by offering free radon test kits. 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 U.S. 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. Things 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 (pCi/L), a measurement of radioactivity. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the average indoor radon level in the U.S. 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,” Madison County Health Department Environmental Health Manager Mary Cooper said.
The free kits include all testing fees and pre-paid postage to mail the kit for your results to Madison County residents. Residents can come to the department’s office to get a radon test kit from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday to Friday at 101 E. Edwardsville Road, Wood River. A staff member will help residents with instructions on using the test kit and give them valuable information regarding radon, radon measurement and radon mitigation. Additionally, should the test results show a high level of radon, the department can provide residents 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 all licensed daycares be tested for radon. As of Jan. 1, 2014, as part of both initial and renewal licensing processes for daycares, proof of testing for radon is required.
For information about the radon test kits, call (618) 692-8954 ext. 3. For more information about National Radon Action Month, visit www.epa.gov/radon/nram/. For more information about radon, visit www.madisonchd.org/environmental-health_radon.shtml or IEMA at www.radon.illinois.gov.