January has been designated National Radon Action Month by the Environmental Protection Agency. In connection with this observance, the Lake County Health Department/Community Health Center is encouraging residents to check the radon levels of their homes or apartments in January or during the winter months.
"The best time to check for radon is during cold weather when windows and doors remain closed," said Tony Beltran, the Health Department's Executive Director. "Radon increases your risk of lung cancer, so it is important to check the level in your home."
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Short-term test kits are available through the Health Department for $10.00. The cost includes return postage, laboratory analysis and interpretation by Health Department staff. Test kits are also available from area hardware and building supply stores.
Radon is measured in picocuries per liter of air. The Environmental Protection Agency has established 4 picocuries per liter of air as an "action level" at which consideration should be given to reducing in-door radon levels. The only way to determine radon levels in a home or apartment is to test in the lowest living area.
Studies show that radon occurs in every county in Illinois. One study found that 13 percent of the homes that were tested in Lake County had in-door radon levels of 4 picocuries per liter of air or greater.
Radon, an odorless and colorless gas naturally found in rock and soil, seeps into homes from the soil through cracks in the basement floor and foundation, crawl spaces, poorly sealed sump pumps, floor drains, porous cinder block walls and other foundation floor and wall penetrations. Although radon gas is measurable everywhere, the highest readings are normally found in the basement and first floor levels of homes and apartments.
"If radon is found in your home, it is important to fix the areas where the gas is seeping in," said Beltran.
For additional information, contact the Health Department's Environment Health Services at: (847) 377-8030.