January is National Radon Action Month and the City of Racine Health Department encourages residents to test their homes for radon. Exposure to radioactive radon gas is the leading cause of lung cancer among non-smokers nationwide and the second leading cause overall. Each year about 21,000 Americans die from lung cancer caused by exposure to radon.
Radon is an odorless radioactive gas that is naturally present in the ground and can enter buildings through the foundations. Both old and newer homes can be susceptible to radon. Radon concentrations vary greatly from home to home and any home having contact with the ground should be tested. Testing is the only way to know if the home has an elevated level of radon. The U.S. Surgeon General and EPA recommend taking action to fix the home if the radon level is 4 picocuries per Liter (pCi/L) of air or more. In Racine, 24% to 41% of homes have elevated airborne concentrations that require immediate attention, according to local data.
“Testing your home for radon is one of the easiest ways to help keep your family safe and healthy,” said Marcia Fernholz, Director of Environmental Health at the City of Racine Health Department. “Fortunately this cause of lung cancer is largely preventable, and the first step is a simple test. If an elevated radon level is found, it can be easily and effectively corrected.”
Affordable do-it-yourself radon test kits are available at the City of Racine Environmental Health Department in Racine’s City Hall. Radon kits cost $6 for the short-term test and $10 for the long-term test. If the home is found to have a high radon level, a professionally installed radon reduction system, using a vent pipe and exhaust fan, will remove the radon from beneath the home and discharge it outside. These systems are affordable, especially compared to the risk of lung cancer.
For more information call the City of Racine Health Department Environmental Division at 262-636-9203 or visit http://cityofracine.org/Departments/Health/Environmental-Health/Radon/ or www.lowradon.org