Homes should be checked periodically for radon levels
January is National Radon Action Month. Radon is a natural, radioactive gas that claims about 21,000 lives each year. It is the leading cause of death from lung cancer among nonsmokers in the United States. According to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, “1 in 10 homes in Wisconsin has unsafe levels of radon.”
Radon comes from the natural decay of uranium found in rocks, soil, and water. It is an invisible, odorless, radioactive gas and it does not cause irritation to the eyes or nose. The only risk from radon in air is lung cancer, which is caused by many years of breathing it in.
The unsafe level of radon exposure is 4 pCi/L (picoCurries per liter of air). At this level, roughly seven people will develop lung cancer per 1,000 individuals exposed among nonsmokers, and that risk escalates to 62 people per 1,000 individuals exposed among smokers. As the exposure level doubles, so does the risk of developing lung cancer for smokers and nonsmokers alike. It is important to test your home for radon gas to help reduce your risk of developing lung cancer later in life. Radon test kits are available from local hardware stores and with the Clark County Health Department (CCHD).
On the bright side, lung cancer caused by radon is largely preventable and radon can be controlled in any home. A certified contractor can install a radon mitigation system to greatly reduce the concentration of radon in your home. For a list of contractors or more information, visit the Department of Health Service’s website at http://www.lowradon.org as well as an interactive map that displays average radon levels based on zip-codes throughout the entire state.
The CCHD has short term radon kits available for $6.00. To purchase a kit or for more information, call 715-743-5116.