Cindy Ladage,Illinois Emergency Management Agency Radon Program
January is Radon Action Month
Reduce your family’s risk of lung cancer with a free home test
January is Radon Action Month and it’s a good time to make testing for radon a 2008 New Year’s Resolution. Why test for radon? Testing and mitigation can dramatically reduce the risk of lung cancer. Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer following smoking and the first leading cause for non-smokers.
Radon is a naturally occurring, colorless, odorless radioactive gas that comes from the radioactive decay of uranium in the soil. Radon is also a Class A known human carcinogen.
The Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) is offering free test kits to those who want to test their homes because as IEMA Director Andrew Velasquez III said, “Testing is the only way to find out if your home has elevated levels of this cancer-causing radioactive gas. It really doesn’t matter where you live in Illinois or what type of home you live in, because we’ve seen excessive radon in every county in Illinois, and in every type of home - old, new, with basements, with a crawlspace or on a slab.”
A kit can be ordered by logging onto www.radon.illinois.gov or calling 800-325-1245.
You should not use a test kit, but hire a licensed radon measurement professional, if involved in a real estate transaction. In January the new Radon Awareness Act, which Governor Rod R. Blagojevich signed this summer, will go into effect. Beginning Jan. 1, 2008, anyone buying a home, condominium or other residential property in Illinois must be provided with information about indoor radon exposure and the fact that radon is the leading cause of lung cancer in non-smokers and the second leading cause overall.
While the occupant of a home can test their own residence, anyone providing a service to test or reduce radon levels must be licensed with the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) Radon Program.
Radon enters buildings because of air pressure and temperature differences between the building and the outside air. It also enters through openings between the slab and the soil such as crawl spaces, floor and wall joints and cracks.
When testing, if results are above the Action Level of 4.0 picocuries per liter, radon reduction (mitigation) is recommended. While the resident of the home can reduce radon themselves, it is recommended that you hire a licensed professional. As with radon measurement professionals, mitigation experts in Illinois are licensed by IEMA to ensure they have the proper equipment, specialized training and technical skills to do the job right and reduce radon in the home to safe levels.
Depending on the home, radon mitigation usually cost between $800-$1,200. A list of licensed professionals is available at the IEMA Web site of www.radon.illinois.gov.
If you are building a new house you can also follow passive radon resistant new construction guidelines. By building a design into a new home, it is easier and less costly to activate a system if radon is discovered once testing is completed. While building contractors are not required to be licensed to install passive systems, it takes a licensed professional to activate the system.
Reducing lung cancer risk is what Radon Action Month is all about. I urge you to take the time to learn more about this indoor air pollutant. More information about radon, including results from the IEMA statewide study, lists of licensed radon measurement and mitigation professionals and requests for free home test kits are available on the IEMA Web site at www.radon.illinois.gov. Radon information and free home test kits are also available through the radon hotline at 800-325-1245.
Cindy Ladage works for the Illinois Emergency Management Agency Radon Program and has been with this program since 1989.
The opinions and views of guest commentators are their own and may not represent those of the Association of Illinois Electric Cooperatives or the electric co-ops of Illinois.
© 2007 Illinois Country Living Magazine.