January is National Radon Action month — the time of year when all 50 states recognize radon as a public health issue. The reason being is that radon enters homes through cracks in the home’s slab or basement and utility lines. In the winter, when doors and windows are closed, radon is most dangerous, explains Jessica Maloney, the indoor air and radon program manager at the Department of Health Services.
Radon is a preventable public health issue. It’s a colorless, odorless and radioactive gas coming naturally from the ground. It’s the second-leading cause of lung cancer and the leading cause in nonsmokers — the lung cancer survival rate is 18 percent, she adds.
Wisconsin sees elevated radon levels statewide in old or new homes, and urban, rural or suburban homes. All homes have a natural negative pressure, acting as a vacuum, and bringing radon in through those cracks and crevices. The only way to know your radon levels is to test your home. She says folks without basements are not in the clear.
People can purchase radon test kits at the local hardware store or radon information center: lowradon.org. The cost varies — between $10 and $20. People can also hire a testing contractor. A list of contractors are also at the radon information center website. Testing should take place on the lowest lived-in level in the home. Residents should test every two years. There’s also mitigation systems available if levels exceed the recommended amount of 4 pCi/L. It costs between $800 and $1,500. A list of certified mitigators is also available on lowradon.org.