Midland County News

January is National Radon Action Month

  • December 26 2014

January is National Radon Action Month

Test.  Fix. Save a life.

Nearly ONE in EIGHT Michigan homes would be expected to have an elevated radon level, and in some counties, more than 40 % of the homes could have problems! Still unsure “How can Radon affect you?” Radon is a naturally occurring, radioactive gas that can accumulate in your home and cause cancer in you and your children. The primary source of Radon usually comes from surrounding soil entering through openings in your homes foundation floor and lower basement wall openings. Sump openings, other penetrations caused by plumbing, wiring, and ductwork not properly sealed may allow radon into your home. Exposure over time can increase your risk of lung cancer. In fact, radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States.  ALL HOMES SHOULD BE TESTED FOR RADON!

• The U. S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that radon is responsible for about 20,000 lung cancer deaths in the U.S. each year. Furthermore, it is estimated that one in every 15 homes nationwide have a high radon level of at or above the recommended radon action level of 4 Picocuries (pCi/L) per liter of air.

• The Surgeon General of the United States issued a Health Advisory, warning Americans about the health risk from exposure to radon in indoor air. The Nation’s Chief Physician urged Americans to test their homes to find out how much radon they might be breathing.   

• The World Health Organization (WHO) announced that they had launched an International Radon Project involving more than 20 countries in a partnership to identify and promote programs that reduce the health impact of radon. WHO acknowledges that radon is an international problem. Epidemiological studies confirm that radon in homes increases the risk of lung cancer in the general population. Other health effects of radon have not consistently been demonstrated.

• A report by the Michigan Public Health Institute estimates that 600 new lung cancer cases in Michigan each year are attributable to exposure of elevated indoor radon gas levels.

“However, says Robert Wolfe from the Midland County Department of Public Health, because there are no warning symptoms like headache, nausea, fatigue, etc, people tend to downplay the health effects and ignore the possibility that there might be a silent killer in their homes. Two adjacent houses may have drastically different radon levels. Any kind of home can have elevated levels -- new or old, drafty or well-sealed, and basement or non-basement. The only known health effect is an increased risk of lung cancer”.

Midland County Homes in 2014 have experienced very low Radon levels. Midland’s normal calculated background level of radon was 1.13 pC/L for 2014. Yet in 2014 we had seen a slight increase in homes exceeding the action level of 4 Picocuries (pCi/L) per liter of air. There were seven (7) homes that had levels exceeding the action level. Since 1992, only 69 homes exceeded the action level where repairs were recommended. The average level of the exceeded test results was 6.5 pC/L. Radon problems can be fixed. In most homes, cost is similar to common home repairs, like painting or having a new water heater installed.

Building healthier homes starts from the ground up. New homes constructed should have radon mitigation systems installed to further reduce potential health risks from radon gas. If you’re thinking about building a new home, insist on having your contractor install a radon reduction system.

Living green is making sure that your home is healthy for your family to breathe. Radon- induced lung cancer is preventable. If you haven’t yet tested your home for Radon, do it now! Tests take less than a week to complete. FREE Radon test kits are available from the Midland County Department of Public Health-Environmental Health Services Division located at 220 W. Ellsworth Street, Midland. 

More information is available by calling the Midland County Department of Public Health at 989-832-6679 or visiting our new web page at www.co.midland.mi.us.