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Radon Action Month in Illinois: What Are the Levels in Your Home?

PHOTO: Radon testing kits can detect if there are dangerously high levels of radon in your home. Photo credit: Wikipedia.
PHOTO: Radon testing kits can detect if there are dangerously high levels of radon in your home. Photo credit: Wikipedia.
January 13, 2015

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. - Radon is the most significant health risk homeowners face, and this month state leaders are encouraging residents to test their homes for the dangerous gas.

According to the Illinois Emergency Management Agency, nearly 1,200 citizens die annually from radon-related lung cancer. Patrick Daniels, radon program manager at the Illinois Emergency Management Agency, says now is the best time of the year to check the radon levels inside a home.

"We want to test homes under what we call 'closed house conditions,'" says Daniels. "Being as cold as it is we tend to keep our windows and doors shut and homes closed up and pretty tight so it just makes it a good time to test."

Test kits range in price from $10 to $30, and can be purchased at a local hardware store or online. Daniels says it's recommended that homeowners who are involved in a real estate transaction hire a licensed professional to test the home for radon.

Radon is a colorless, odorless, and tasteless gas that can enter structures through small cracks in the foundation, sump pumps or soil in crawlspaces. Daniels says there are typically higher levels of radon in northern parts of the state, but he adds elevated levels of the gas have been found in each of Illinois' 102 counties.

"What makes this a great place to grow corn and soybeans - the glacial till that was pushed down during the ice age - gives us varying uranium concentrations. Radon comes from the decay of uranium in the soil into our homes, and builds up to levels that will cause lung cancer."

A radon mitigation system can greatly reduce radon levels, and the average cost runs between $800 and $1,200. Daniels says to save money, treat it like any other home improvement project.

"Find a licensed mitigator, but find more than one. Get at least two bids, if not three," he says. "Get them to give you a written proposal and then compare bids to help keep costs down."

Information on test kits and licensed mitigation experts is available at the ​Illinois Emergency Management Agency website at www.radon.illinois.gov.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - IL