National Radon Action Month is here. The Saginaw County Department of Public Health has extended its offer of free radon test kits through the month of February. All area residents are encouraged to get a kit and test their homes over the next few weeks.
Radon is a tasteless, odorless, colorless, radioactive gas found in almost any kind of soil and rock.
It travels through the ground and enters buildings through cracks and openings in the foundation floor or walls, including floor/wall joints, sump openings, and other penetrations caused by plumbing, wiring, or ductwork.
Outdoors, it is diluted by the atmosphere, but indoors it tends to be more concentrated and can accumulate to unhealthy levels.
Exposure over time can increase oneâ??s risk of contracting lung cancer.
"Because it is invisible and canâ??t be smelled, people tend to ignore it," Wilke said. "It doesnâ??t cause headaches, nausea, fatigue, skin rashes, or other warning symptoms that might be experienced as a result of exposure to many other environmental toxins, yet extended exposure to elevated radon levels may increase oneâ??s risk of lung cancer, a generally fatal disease.â??
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), radon is responsible for approximately 21,000 lung cancer deaths annually, and a report by the Michigan Public Health Institute estimates that more than 600 of those occur in Michigan alone.
Testing is easy and inexpensive, Wilke noted.
The best time to test is in winter months when people keep their windows and doors closed.
The do-it-yourself test kits distributed by the health department are offered free through the month of February.
Kits are available from Environmental Health Services at the Health Department, 1600 N. Michigan Avenue in Room 101, the Rehmann Health Center in Chesaning, Frankenmuth City Hall, Village of Birch Run and Birch Run Township Offices as well as Taymouth Township Office.
For those who are homebound or simply cannot get to the health department during normal business hours, test kits are available for $6.95 online at http://mi.radon.com.