October 12, 2001
Governor John Engler has proclaimed Oct. 14 through Oct. 20 as Radon Action Week and encourages all Michigan residents to test their homes for the odorless, colorless, radioactive gas.
Testing is easy and inexpensive. The Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) is working with county health departments to ensure that test kits and information are available statewide.
"Nearly one of every eight Michigan homes could have a radon problem," Governor Engler said. "While it is gratifying to see a growing awareness statewide, it is still important that families test their homes and that elevated radon levels be reduced."
Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas found in almost any kind of soil or rock. It travels through the soil and is quickly diluted when released to the atmosphere, in which case it presents no problem to the outdoor environment. Radon, however, also enters buildings through openings in the foundation floor or walls and does not get diluted. It then can accumulate to unhealthy levels indoors.
About 15,000 Americans die annually from lung cancer related to exposure to elevated radon levels, according to the National Academy of Sciences and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Only smoke causes more lung cancer deaths.
The DEQ notes that test kits usually range from $5 to $15 and usually are available at local health departments and some retail outlets such as hardware stores. If elevated radon levels are discovered, trained contractors can install a system that vents the gas to the outdoors.
For information about testing or reducing elevated radon levels, call local county health officials or the DEQ Radon Program at 1-800-RADON GAS (1-800-723-6642).