Governor Gretchen Whitmer has declared January 2023 as Radon Action Month in Michigan, and she encourages all Michigan residents to learn more about this environmental hazard and test their homes during the heating season.
You cannot see, smell, or taste radon, and there are no short-term side effects that could cause alarm or warn of its presence. However, long-term exposure to radon increases the risk of developing lung cancer, which accounts for more deaths in both men and women than any other form of cancer in the United States, according to the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE), which aims to increase awareness of health risks associated with elevated indoor radon levels, promote home testing, and encourage citizens to take action to reduce exposure once elevated radon levels are found.
Behind smoking, radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer and is considered a leading environmental cause of cancer deaths in the United States.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) estimates that radon is responsible for about 20,000 lung cancer deaths in the United States each year. The risk of lung cancer from radon exposure is higher for people who smoke than for people who do not smoke. However, the USEPA estimates that more than 10% of radon-related cancer deaths occur among people who have never smoked cigarettes.
According to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS), lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths in Michigan. Male residents and Native American residents have the highest rates of lung cancer in the state. Reducing exposure to cigarette smoke and radon is proven to reduce the risk for lung cancer.
Radon testing has increased in importance as many Michiganders work from home. Testing is easy, inexpensive, and the only way to determine if a radon problem exists. Residents are encouraged to test for radon every two to five years. If a radon mitigation system was previously installed in the home, residents are encouraged to test every two years to make sure radon levels remain in the acceptable range.
One in every four Michigan homes is expected to have radon levels exceeding the federal action level of 4.0 picocuries per liter. Elevated radon levels have been found in all 83 Michigan counties. Radon poses a serious threat to our community’s health, but high radon concentrations are also easily fixed.
For more information about radon testing and other information including resources for homeowners, builders, real estate agents, teachers, and health care providers, go to Michigan.gov/Radon or call EGLE’s Indoor Radon hotline at 800-723-6642 (800-RADONGAS). For more information on lung cancer prevention strategies, please visit Michigan.gov/Cancer.
To stay up to date on other EGLE news, follow us at Michigan.gov/MIEnvironment.
The health department offers free testing kits so you can easily test Radon levels in your home. The test lasts for a minimum of 3 days and you simply mail the kit to the address provided.