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Residents should pick up a free radon test kit during Radon Action Month

HANCOCK – January is National Radon Action Month. The Western Upper Peninsula Health Department wants to let the public know about radon testing, mitigation resources, and the importance of testing your home.

Radon cannot be seen, smelled, or tasted, but high levels of radon gas may be in residents’ homes, increasing their risk of lung cancer. Fortunately, testing is easy and high radon levels can be lowered. Radon is the leading cause of lung cancer in nonsmokers, causing an estimated 21,000 deaths annually.

Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas. Radon moves up though the soil and enters buildings through cracks and openings in the foundation, floor, or walls, including at floor/wall joints, sump openings, and other openings caused by plumbing, wiring, or ductwork. Any home, regardless of age, energy-efficiency, or foundation type, could have a radon problem. Outdoors, radon is diluted by the atmosphere to safe levels. However, radon can concentrate in indoor air and reach unhealthy levels.

According to a Michigan survey, high levels of radon are expected in one out of four Michigan homes. In some counties in the UP, as many as 36 percent of the homes have radon levels above the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) recommended action level (4 pCi/L). Approximately 10 percent of homes tested in the Western UP (Baraga, Gogebic, Houghton, Keweenaw, and Ontonagon) registered radon results above the EPA action level. While higher results have averaged between 4 and 20 pCi/L, results up to 100 pCi/L have been observed.

Testing for radon is recommended every two years because homes settle, new cracks form in the foundation, and radon levels can change. While test kits are available year-round, the most accurate time to test is in the winter months.

Free radon test kits are available year-round by stopping at your local Western Upper Peninsula Health Department Office located in L’Anse, Bessemer, Hancock, and Ontonagon. For more information about radon, radon mitigation, and radon-resistant new home construction, please visit www.wuphd.org, or call (906) 482 7382 or go to www.Michigan.gov/Radon.

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