CHICAGO - January is National Radon Action Month and the Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) is encouraging Chicagoans to test their home for harmful levels of radon. Radon is a natural colorless, odorless radioactive gas and is the leading cause of lung cancer among non-smokers. The best time to test homes for radon is during cold-weather months when windows are shut and elevated levels of radon are more likely to be detected.
"Exposure to radon is a preventable health risk," said Dr. Cortland Lohff, CDPH Medical Director for Environmental Health. "Taking action to test and fix high levels of radon gas is not only a strong investment for your health but also for your home."
Information on how to test, find a qualified radon professional or obtain a test kit is available at http://www.epa.gov/radon or by calling the Cook County Radon Hot Line at (708) 865-6177.
You can't see, smell or taste radon, but it could be present at a dangerous level in your home. In fact, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that radon causes more than 20,000 deaths from lung cancer each year. And if you smoke and your home has a high radon level, your risk of lung cancer can increase even more.
Radon comes from the natural decay of uranium that is found in nearly all soils. It can get into homes through cracks and other holes in the foundation. Radon can then be trapped inside the home, where it can build up.
All homes with or without basements should be tested for radon. Affordable Do-It-Yourself radon test kits are available online and at home improvement and hardware stores, or you can hire a qualified radon tester.
CDPH recommends taking action to fix radon levels at or above 4 picoCuries per Liter (pCi/L). Addressing high radon levels often costs the same as other minor home repairs. In most cases, a system with a vent pipe and fan is used to reduce radon.
Radon test results are a positive selling point for those putting a house on the market and in many areas is a required part of real estate transactions. In addition, if you are looking to build a new home, there are now safer and healthier radon-resistant construction techniques that home buyers can discuss with builders to prevent this health hazard.
Improving the health and well-being of all Chicagoans by creating safer and healthier homes is a priority in CDPH's citywide health agenda, Healthy Chicago. Healthy Chicago sets an ambitious sense of purpose for Chicago and engages the city with bold action and goals to make Chicago the healthiest city in the nation. Visit www.CityofChicago.org/HEALTH for more information.