Health officials urge awareness of radon gas dangers

Huron Daily Tribune

Wednesday, January 7, 2015 7:55 am

THE THUMB — The Environmental Protection Agency has declared January “National Radon Month, with health agencies throughout the country joining forces to promote awareness of the leading cause of lung cancer for non-smokers. 

Nearly one in eight Michigan homes has an elevated radon level, and in some counties, more than 40 percent of the homes could have problems. While both Huron and Tuscola counties both have a low potential (a predicted average indoor radon screening level less than 2 pCi/L) for elevated radon levels, it is still advised that homes get tested at least every two years. 

Radon is a naturally occurring, odorless radioactive gas that can accumulate in a home and cause cancer. The primary source of radon usually comes from surrounding soil entering through openings in a home’s foundation, floor and lower basement wall openings. Sump openings, other penetrations caused by plumbing, wiring and duct work not properly sealed may allow radon into a home. Exposure over time can increase a person’s risk of lung cancer.

Radon gas in not isolated to certain geographical areas or home types. Radon problems have been detected in homes in every county of the United States, and caused more American fatalities in 2014 than carbon monoxide, fires and handguns combined. 

Tip MacGuire, environmental health director for Huron and Tuscola counties, said every home should be adequately tested — especially because no two homes are alike. 

“It varies depending on the ground, because it is coming out of the ground itself,” MacGuire said. “It’s something you should test for and something you can test for.”

Both the Huron County and Tuscola County Health departments offer free kits to county residents through the month of January. 

Testing in the winter is encouraged, when the home is sealed up. MacGuire said that tests are pretty easy to administer, with detailed instructions included in each kit. 

To administer a test, a homeowner will basically set the test kit it on something about table level off the ground in the lowest level of the home. Usually this occurs in a basement. A test takes 3-to-7 days to complete, then it is sealed up and dropped in the mail.  

“It’s rather simple to do,” MacGuire said.  

In the event there is an elevated radon level detected, MacGuire indicated in many cases, it is easy to correct. Something simply as caulking cracks in the basement wall or sealing the sump pump cover down can make a home safe again.  

“There are things you can do to minimize levels,” MacGuire said.  

For those interested in obtaining a radon test kit from either Huron or Tuscola counties, go to the health department in the county you live in and visit its Environmental Health Division. 


The Huron County Health Department is located at 1142 S. Van Dyke Road, Bad Axe, and can be reached at 989-269-9721. The Tuscola County Health Department is located at 1309 Cleaver Road, Caro, and can be reached at 989-673-8114.

Seth Stapleton • 989-269-6461 •

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