Free and discounted radon tests are available in January

By: Terry Oparka | C&G Newspapers | Published January 22, 2020

METRO DETROIT — You can’t see, smell or taste it — but radon lurking in your home in winter months when doors and windows stay closed, which allows radon to collect, can cause lung cancer.

January is Radon Action Month, and radon tests are available for free or at discounted costs through the end of the month.

According to the Macomb County Health Department, radon is the leading cause of lung cancer among nonsmokers in America and claims the lives of about 21,000 Americans each year.

According to a press release from the Macomb County Health Department, the only way to know if your home has a radon problem is to test for it. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. surgeon general recommend testing all homes for radon.

You cannot see, smell or taste radon, but it could be present at a dangerous level in any home, including new and old homes, well-sealed and drafty homes, and homes with or without a basement, according to a press release from the Macomb County Health Department.

The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy, formerly the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, recommends testing for radon every two years due to homes settling and new cracks forming in the foundation, potentially causing radon levels to change.

According to the Macomb County Health Department and the Oakland County Health Division, radon, an invisible, odorless gas, is produced naturally in soil and rock, and is usually harmless outdoors. It moves upward through the soil and enters buildings through cracks and openings in the foundation floor or walls. Once it is indoors, radon can accumulate to unhealthy levels.

According to EGLE, approximately 30% of homes tested in Oakland County have had elevated levels of radon.

Testing is recommended to be conducted in the wintertime for the most accurate reading in the home, according to the Macomb County Health Department.

“Exposure to radon is the leading cause of lung cancer in nonsmokers and the second-leading cause of lung cancer overall,” said Leigh-Anne Stafford, the Oakland County health officer, in a prepared statement. “Since you cannot see, smell or taste radon, testing your home is the only way to know if you and your family are at risk of radon exposure.”

According to the EPA, radon reduction systems work and are not too costly.

“Some radon reduction systems can reduce radon levels in your home by up to 99%. Even very high levels can be reduced to acceptable levels. Nearly 1 in 15 homes in the U.S. is estimated to have elevated radon levels,” according to the EPA.

If your home tests high, radon contractors primarily use a vent pipe system and a fan, which pulls radon from beneath the house and vents it outside, the EPA states.

“The system, known as (the) soil suction radon reduction system, does not require major changes to your home. Sealing foundation cracks and other openings makes this kind of system more effective and cost-efficient,” the EPA states.

Also, the EPA says that before planning any major structural renovation, such as converting an unfinished basement into living space, it is important to test the area for radon.

And because major renovations can change the radon level in any home, the EPA says to always test again after work is completed.

Radon levels can vary greatly from home to home, according to the EPA, so the only way to know if a problem exists is to take a test.


Oakland County residents may purchase radon testing kits for $5 through the month of January at:

• North Oakland Health Center, 1200 N. Telegraph Road, Building 34E, Pontiac.
• South Oakland Health Center, 27725 Greenfield Road, Southfield.
Office hours are 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Mondays-Fridays. To purchase more than 15 radon kits, please call (248) 858-1312 to preorder. After January, the cost of a radon test kit will return to $10. Oakland County residents may visit oakgov.com/health for more information or contact the nurse on call from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays-Fridays at (800) 848-5533 or at noc@oakgov.com.

Macomb County residents may obtain radon testing kits free of charge through January at:

• Central Health Center, 43525 Elizabeth Road, Mount Clemens.
• Southwest Health Service Center, 27690 Van Dyke Ave., Warren.
For more information on radon and the free testing kits, Macomb County residents may call the Macomb County Health Department at (586) 469-5236 or visit health.macombgov.org.

For EPA information, visit epa.gov/radon.