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Test for unseen gas during Radon Awareness Month

January is National Radon Awareness Month. Radon is a radioactive gas that naturally occurs in soil or rock. Radon gas, if present where a home was built, may be able to seep into the home and cause long-term health issues. It will quickly be diluted to safe levels when it reaches the atmosphere, but if it is able to enter homes through openings in the foundation floor or walls, it can build up to unhealthy and unsafe levels.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, or EPA, radon is the second-leading cause of lung cancer and the leading cause of lung cancer in non-smokers. It is responsible for more than 20,000 lung cancer deaths in the United States each year, with more than 600 of those deaths thought to come in Michigan.

Some facts about radon from the Dickinson-Iron District Health Department include:

— The gas can’t be seen, smelled or tasted;

— It’s ranked by the EPA as one of the most serious environmental health problems facing the public today.

— It may be a problem in as many as 1 in 8 Michigan homes.

The only way to know for certain that radon is in the home is to test for it.

The DIDHD has two types of radon test kits available for purchase:

— The charcoal kit (short term): The $9 charcoal kit is for an exposure period of three to seven days and tests for the presence or absence of radon gas. It is accurate for testing areas up to a maximum of 800 square feet. If your basement is unfinished and larger than 800 square feet, you may wish to consider purchasing two kits. In this situation, each kit should be placed near the center of each half of the basement.

— The alpha track (long term): This $22 kit is for an exposure period of seven to 12 months. This kit will provide the homeowner with the actual average daily exposure to radon gas and has a maximum test exposure area of 2,000 square feet.

The shelf life of either of these kits is unlimited; however, it is recommended the kit be utilized within two years from date of purchase.

For links to additional information and fact sheets on radon, go online to http://didhd.org/radontesting.php. Or contact the DIDHD’s environmental health staff at 906-779-7239 or 906-265-4172. The department has offices at 818 Pyle Drive in Kingsford or 601 Washington Ave. in Iron River.

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