How and why you should test your home for dangerous cancer-causing radon gas

21,000 people die each year from radon-related lung cancer, EPA says

Radon test. (MI EGLE)

Michigan officials are urging residents to test their homes for a dangerous, cancer-causing gas, if they haven’t tested in more than two years.

According to the EPA, radon is a naturally-occurring radioactive gas that can cause lung cancer. Radon gas is inert, colorless and odorless. Radon is naturally in the atmosphere in trace amounts. Outdoors, radon disperses rapidly and, generally, is not a health issue. Most radon exposure occurs inside homes, schools and workplaces.

Radon gas becomes trapped indoors after it enters buildings through cracks and other holes in the foundation. Indoor radon can be controlled and managed with proven, cost-effective techniques.

Breathing radon over time increases your risk of lung cancer. Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States. Nationally, the EPA estimates that about 21,000 people die each year from radon-related lung cancer. Only smoking causes more lung cancer deaths.

One in every four Michigan homes is expected to have radon levels exceeding the federal action level of 4.0 picocuries per liter. Elevated radon levels have been found in all 83 Michigan counties.

“Residents are encouraged to test for radon every two to five years,” says Leslie E. Smith, III, Michigan’s statewide indoor radon specialist. “And if a radon mitigation system was previously installed in the home, residents are encouraged to test every two years to make sure that radon levels remain below action levels. Buildings settle and shift over time which can change the amount of radon that enters our indoors.”

Radon test kits can be purchased from your local health department or at most hardware stores. A national radon laboratory also offers Michigan residents radon test kits at a discounted rate. Both short- and long-term test kits can be purchased online and shipped right to your doorstep. Know your number, test your home for radon this winter.

Usually, radon problems are fixed using an underground ventilation system or by increasing the rate of air changes in the building.

Find more info on radon and radon testing here.

About the Author:

Ken Haddad has proudly been with WDIV/ClickOnDetroit since 2013. He also authors the Morning Report Newsletter and various other newsletters, and helps lead the WDIV Insider team. He's a big sports fan and is constantly sipping Lions Kool-Aid.