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Homeowners reminded to test their homes for radon gas

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. Radon is not an irritant to the eyes or nose, nor is it an allergen. 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. So 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 the Clark County Health Department.

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 for around $1,200. This system will greatly reduce the concentration of radon in your home.

For a list of contractors or more information, visit the website, which also has an interactive map that displays average radon levels based on zip-codes throughout the entire state.

Call 715-743-5105 for more information about the health department’s short term radon kits, which are available for $6.