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Expert: Radon a Problem Across Illinois

IMAGE: January is National Radon Action Awareness Month, and efforts have been under way to educate Illinoisans on the dangers of the naturally occurring gas and encourage homeowners to test for it. Courtesy of epa.gov.
IMAGE: January is National Radon Action Awareness Month, and efforts have been under way to educate Illinoisans on the dangers of the naturally occurring gas and encourage homeowners to test for it. Courtesy of epa.gov.
January 30, 2014

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – It's responsible for thousands of deaths in the U.S. each year, but experts say many Illinoisans are still unaware of the dangers of radon gas.

Patrick Daniels, state radon officer with the Illinois Emergency Management Agency, says radon is a cancer-causing radioactive gas in the ground that you can't see, taste or smell, and it can seep up through cracks and crevices below a home.

"Our homes are at a lower atmospheric pressure than the outdoor atmospheric pressure,” he explains. “So they are literally like vacuum sweepers on the soil, drawing in soil gases, one of those soil gases being radon."

Daniels says radon is easy to reduce through a simple mitigation system that can be installed by a professional.

Illinoisans can test for radon in their home by hiring a radon professional or by purchasing a do-it-yourself kit.

An estimated 21,000 people in the U.S. die each year of radon-induced lung cancer.

A home's age, construction or location does not matter when it comes to the presence of radon.

And Daniels says it's found across Illinois at some type of elevated level.

"We know (in) the northern half of the state a higher percentage of homes are failing,” he advises. “But you just can't look at a house or a piece of property and know what the radon concentration is going to be. So, we've had homes fail in every county in the state."

Daniels adds that taking corrective action is important for your family's health because more people die from radon-induced lung cancer than any other source, second to smoking.

"We estimate about 1,160 Illinois citizens get radon-induced lung cancer annually,” he says. “That makes it more dangerous than slips, trips, falls, fires, accidental poisoning inside a private home, so it does become the number one risk inside a private home."

Residents can learn more about the dangers of radon gas and purchase a low-cost testing kit for their home at Radon.illinois.gov.

January is National Radon Action Awareness Month.


Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - IL