MARSHFIELD, WI (Submitted to OnFocus) – January is National Radon Action Month. The Clark County Health Department (CCHD), along with the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), recommends that all residents test their homes at least once for the presence of radon gas. If a high level of radon gas is detected, simple steps can be taken to correct the problem.
Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas that originates from the decay of uranium found in rocks, soil, and water. It is expelled from the ground and can enter homes through cracks in the foundation, openings around joints and pipes, and dirt floors. About 1 out of 10 Wisconsin homes has high radon levels; however, the amount of radon gas varies across the state. An interactive map displaying the average radon levels based on zip codes throughout the entire state can be found on www.lowradon.org.
Each year, radon gas claims about 21,000 lives. Radon gas is invisible, odorless, and tasteless, and does not cause irritation to the eyes or nose, making it difficult to detect. If undetected, radon can build to high levels inside your home. The unsafe level of radon exposure set by the EPA is 4 pCi/L (picocuries per liter of air). Long-term exposure at this level or a greater level is a significant risk factor for the development of lung cancer.
In the U.S., radon exposure is the leading cause of death from lung cancer among nonsmokers. Additionally, the Surgeon General advises that, after cigarette smoke, exposure to radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer. If you live in a home with high radon levels, smoking raises your risk of lung cancer by 10 times.
Fortunately, lung cancer caused by radon is largely preventable and radon can be controlled in any home. A certified contractor can install a radon mitigation system to greatly reduce the concentration of radon in your home. For a list of contractors or more information, visit the DHS’s Radon Measurement and Mitigation Contractors webpage.
The only way to know if you have a safe level of radon inside your home is to conduct a radon test. Testing is simple, quick, and inexpensive. Short-term radon test kits provided by the Clark County Health Department are available for $6.00 and can be picked up at the Health Department. Kits can be mailed for an additional $2.00. Radon test kits can also be found at many local hardware stores. To purchase a kit from CCHD or for more information, please call 715-743-5112, or visit www.lowradon.org.
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