Radon is a colorless, odorless, tasteless radioactive gas that occurs naturally in soil and rock. It moves upward through the soil and enters buildings through cracks and openings in the foundation, including floor/wall joints, sump openings, and crawl spaces. Outdoors, the atmosphere dilutes radon, but indoors it tends to be more concentrated and can accumulate to unhealthy levels.
Exposure to radon increases one’s risk of developing lung cancer. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States and is responsible for approximately 20,000 deaths nationally each year.
A statewide survey indicates that elevated levels of radon would be expected in one out of eight homes in Michigan. In some counties, as many as 45% of homes could have radon test levels above EPA recommended action guidelines of four (4) picocuries per liter of air. Many of the homes in Shiawassee County may have elevated levels of radon, placing some area residents at risk of developing lung cancer from prolonged exposure at these levels.
Less than two percent of homes in Shiawassee County have been tested for radon gas. Of those houses that have been tested, many have been found to have elevated radon levels that required mitigation. Radon levels vary considerably from house to house. The only way to find out if an individual home has elevated levels is to conduct a test.
Testing is easy and inexpensive. Kits are available year around from the Health Department for $5.00. However, during Radon Action Month, kits are available at NO CHARGE. Kits can be obtained at the Shiawassee County Health Department, 201 N. Shiawassee St, 3rd floor of the Surbeck Building in Corunna.
Some hardware stores, home centers, and other retail outlets also sell the do-it-yourself test kits. Professional testing services are also available, though they are most often used for testing as part of a real estate transaction.
Citizens interested in finding out more about radon can contact the Shiawassee County Health Department in Corunna at (989) 743-2392. Health Department offices are open Monday through Friday, 8AM to 5PM. Information is also available by calling the MDEQ toll-free information line at 1-800-RADON GAS (1-800-723-6642).