January is National Radon Action Month and the Grundy County Health Department is urging homeowners to test their homes for the dangerous gas.
Radon is a colorless, odorless and tasteless gas that is produced by the decay of uranium and radium in the soil. Radon rises through the soil and can enter buildings through small cracks in the foundation or floors, gaps around pipes or sump pits, according to a news release from the health department.
This gas is naturally occurring and can be found at various levels throughout Illinois and Grundy County. The most recent reports from Illinois Emergency Management Agency show that 41 percent of tested Illinois homes and 38 percent of tested Grundy County homes had radon levels exceeding the recommended level for taking action (4pCi/L).
Long-term exposure to radon gas at this elevated level can be dangerous. Although exposure to radon gas causes no immediate noticeable symptoms, it can be deadly. Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer and even nonsmokers can be at risk of lung cancer from radon exposure. It is estimated that 21,000 people die from radon related lung cancer in the United States each year.
Testing is the only way to determine if radon is present in your home or building. Test kits are easy to use and affordable, and they are available at the Grundy County Health Department at a cost during January of $10 for two test kits. Test kits also are available at some hardware stores.
The best time to test is during the cold-weather months, when homes and buildings are closed and radon is more likely to build to unhealthy levels. For information, call the Grundy County Health Department’s Environmental Health Division at 815 941-3115.