January is National Radon Action Month, and the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) and federal health officials note that exposure to this colorless, odorless, radioactive gas is the nation’s second leading cause of lung cancer and the leading cause of lung cancer among non-smokers.
Radon is naturally present in the ground and can enter buildings through their foundations. Both old and newer homes can be susceptible to radon.
“Research shows that radon causes more lung cancer among non-smokers than even second-hand tobacco smoke,” said Dr. Henry Anderson, Chief Medical Officer and State Epidemiologist. “Fortunately, this cause of lung cancer is largely preventable; the first step is to test your home. If elevated radon is found, it can be easily and effectively corrected,” Anderson said.
Radon concentrations in air can be measured with simple, inexpensive test kits available from hardware stores and local public health agencies. State statistics indicate that between 5 and 10 percent of homes in Wisconsin have elevated airborne concentrations of radon in significantly occupied spaces.
“Radon concentrations vary greatly from home to home, so any home, no matter its age, should be tested,” Anderson said.
More than 80 radon mitigation contractors in Wisconsin are nationally certified and install highly effective soil-depressurization radon control systems. Thousands of systems are installed in existing homes in Wisconsin each year. New construction should include features to reduce radon entry recommended by the standards for green building from the National Association of Home Builders.
You can find more information about radon on the DHS website at http://www.lowradon.org. Also, experts in local public health agencies can be reached toll-free statewide by dialing 1-888 LOW-RADON (1-888-569-7236). “Decreasing exposure to radon” is Priority 6 of the WI CCC Plan 2015-2020. Visit the online, interactive WI CCC Plan 2015-2020 for specific action steps to address this issue.