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Michiganders Urged to Test Homes for Radon

PHOTO: January is Radon Action Month, and this year's winner of a radon poster contest illustrates the damage the gas can do to people's lungs. Free test kits are available at local health departments.  Photo courtesy of EPA.
PHOTO: January is Radon Action Month, and this year's winner of a radon poster contest illustrates the damage the gas can do to people's lungs. Free test kits are available at local health departments. Photo courtesy of EPA.
January 21, 2014

LANSING, Mich. - You can't see, smell, or taste it, but radon could be present in dangerous levels in your home, which is why Michiganders are being urged to test for it this month.

According to the state's indoor radon specialist, Leslie Smith, radon is a naturally-occurring gas which can rise from the earth and become trapped in houses, schools, and businesses, with potentially deadly consequences.

"Elevated radon levels have been documented in every county," he said. "So, it doesn't matter what your neighbors have done or may not have done, or whether they have a radon system or not: every home should be tested."

January is Radon Action Month, since it's easier to test for indoor radon levels in the winter, when people keep doors and windows closed. And Smith said testing is just the first step: because radon exposure is so serious, homeowners who find elevated levels will have to take action.

"There's radon reduction systems that can be installed in the home, to pull the radon gas from the soil underneath the home and discharge it outside of the home," he said. "There's ventilation systems that can be installed."

Radon has been identified as the second-leading cause of lung cancer deaths and claims the lives of 21,000 Americans each year. A free radon testing kit can be obtained by contacting most local health departments.

More information about radon testing, exposure, and mitigation is available on the Department of Environmental Quality's website or by calling the national Radon Information Hotline at 1-800-SOS-RADON.

Mona Shand, Public News Service - MI