The Woodford County Health Department is encouraging residents to test the radon level in their home. The best time to test for radon is during cold weather when windows and doors are closed. Radon is a radioactive gas that occurs naturally in most soil. As radon travels through the soil, it can easily move through small spaces in a foundation and enter a building, where it becomes trapped and accumulates in the air.
Most radon exposure occurs in the home, where people spend the most time. Radon has no taste, smell, or color. Testing is the only way to find out if there is a dangerous level of radon in your home.
When people breathe in radon, it damages the lungs, which can cause lung cancer. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer after cigarette smoking. Radon can be found throughout Illinois and levels can vary from one home to another, even in the same neighborhood.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has established the radon action level at 4 picocuries per liter of air (4.0 pCi/L). At or above this level, it is recommended that corrective measures be taken to reduce indoor radon levels. Radon mitigation is the only effective way to reduce levels and decrease the risk of lung cancer. The most common radon reduction system involves the installation of a vent pipe and fan, which draws air from underneath a building and displaces it outside. The cost of a system varies depending on the reduction method chosen and building size.
According to current professional recommendations, households should test for radon every two years. Test kits are available through Woodford County Health Department for $15.00. The cost includes shipping, and laboratory analysis. Test kits are also available from area hardware stores. For more detailed information about radon measurements and radon mitigation, visit www.radon.illinois.gov.