Undetectable With Eyes and Nose
2:50 pm
Thu October 24, 2013

In Winter, Your Home Could Be Sheltering Radon

It’s National Radon Week.  Health officials are reminding people to get their homes tested for the dangerous gas to prevent long term exposure.

Radon test kits are available at local health departments.
Radon test kits are available at local health departments.
Credit National Cancer Institute

Oneida County Public Health Nurse Charlotte Ahrens says the problem with radon is that it’s colorless and odorless.

“People have no indicators they they’re being exposed to this gas.  The gas is produced by a breakdown of uranium in soil, and in rock and in water.”

Long term radon exposure is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the U.S.  Ahrens says radon exposure becomes a bigger issue in the winter.  Tightly sealed or energy-efficient homes are also more likely to have a buildup of radon. 

“Radon leaking into these homes, by cracks in the flooring, by sump pump.  And over the course of time, especially in the winter months, there’s some accumulation of radon.  So if that radon does not escape, that leads to the potential problem.”

Radon testing kits are available for a few dollars at your local public health department.  The best place to test for radon is the basement or the lowest level of your house. 

So far this year about 2 percent of homes tested in Oneida County have registered elevated radon levels.

Rates are higher in parts of central Wisconsin, including Marathon and Shawano Counties.