The McHenry County Department of Health encourages all residents to test their homes for radon as part of National Radon Action Month.
Radon is a naturally occurring colorless, odorless, tasteless, radioactive gas produced during the natural decay of uranium, an element that occurs in rock and soil of the earth’s crust.
Radon can enter a building through the ground into lower levels such as basements, floor drains, sump pits, crawl spaces, foundation cracks and gaps around pipes and wires. It is harmless when dispersed in outdoor air, but it can be harmful to an occupant’s health when it becomes concentrated inside closed spaces like homes and buildings and if it reaches elevated levels.
Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer deaths in the United States, according to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention. Radon-related health risks are preventable with a simple home detection test. Homes with elevated levels of radon can often be fixed inexpensively, but the cost may depend on the type of home construction.
McHenry County has been classified as a Zone 2 or medium risk for radon, a predicted average indoor radon screening level between 2 and 4 picocuries per liter (pCi/L), but all homes should be tested regardless of geographic location.
To help McHenry County residents keep their homes safe, short term radon test kits are available for $8 at MCDH’s Division of Environmental Health office, 667 Ware Road, Suite 110, Woodstock. Test kits can also be found at most hardware stores and online. People are encouraged to test their homes for radon every two years, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Testing for radon is simple, and directions are provided with each test kit.
“The only way to know if you and your family are at risk of radon exposure is by testing your home. Testing should be completed in the lowest level of the home that is frequently occupied, and testing in the winter is ideal since there is less opportunity for radon to escape since we tend to keep our windows and doors closed during the colder months,” said Patricia Nomm, MCDH Director of Environmental Health.
If testing reveals radon levels that meet or exceed the action level of 4.0 pCi/L, residents are strongly encouraged to take corrective action to reduce exposure to radon gas.