Safety For You: Tracking down radon

(WLNS) – When the weather changes and the cold winds blow we find ourselves closing up our homes from the outside.

There is an invader already in your house waiting for the perfect time to strike and when it does it may already be too late.

You can’t see it, smell it or taste it but it causes cancer that doesn’t show up for years.

How many deaths? About 21,000 lung cancer deaths a year.

Radon gas kills thousands every year.

To put these numbers in perspective, almost 3,000 people die in the US every year from home fires.

Almost 4,000 people die in United States every year from drowning.

The numbers go up from there.

8,00 people die from falling at home and over 17,00 people die from drunk driving related car crashes

But the most alarming is 21,000 people die every year from radon gas.

The numbers are scary.

Even more scary is lung cancer develops over the course of many years, even decades.

The question is how does radon get into our homes and is everyone at risk?

“It enters our home from cracks and voids in the foundation. While it’s in our homes it has the potential to build up and become unsafe,” explains radon specialist Aaron Berndt.

Berndt works with the Department of Environmental Quality and says radon gas occurs naturally in the soil.

The state of Michigan, like the whole US, is split up into three zones.

The zones indicate where the culprit, uranium, is located in the soil.

Some of mid-Michigan is in Zone 1, Jackson county along with Calhoun, Washtenaw and most of the southern border counties.

“In Jackson county about 50 percent of the tests are coming back elevated,” says Berndt.

Ingham, Eaton, Clinton, and Livingston are in Zone 2.

So now that you know the dangers of radon gas, how do you test your home?

Berndt says you can pick up a free testing kit at most county health department.

You open it up, fill out the information, hang the testing kit about four feet off the floor.

Wait 3-7 days to mail the kit in.

In a couple weeks your results will come back.

If your home has a high radon level the DEQ should be the next call you make.

And they will recommend a long term test that’s a little bit more accurate.

“The reason for the long term test is because radon levels do fluctuate by the season,” explains Berndt. “They can even fluctuate day to night by the diurnal cycle.”

A test that takes minutes to set up, weeks to get the results back could mean years of added life for those in your family


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