New Rules For Radon Safety

WXYZ) - According to the Environmental Protection Agency, thousands of cancer deaths each year are caused by radon gas. There are steps we can take to protect ourselves and our families… but too few of us are taking the action that's needed.

When we hear that someone has lung cancer, one of the first things that comes to mind is whether that person ever smoked. We seldom make a mental connection between lung cancer and radon – and that may be a mistake.

Radon is an unwelcome predator in the neighborhoods of southeast Michigan. When uranium in soil, rock, or water breaks down…it forms radon gas. We cannot see or smell radon. And what's worse, "It's not something you really think about." According to Alexandra Alseri

She has lived in an Ann Arbor area multi-level home for fifteen years. But it wasn't until she and her husband considered selling the home that she had the radon level tested.

The level in her house was 10 picocuries per liter. According to the environmental protection agency, the acceptable limit is 4 or less.

21-thousand people a year die from lung cancer needlessly because of their radon exposure.

Counties in zone one are high potential areas where the predicted average indoor radon level is higher than 4. It includes Washtenaw County where Alexandra lives and several counties on the southern edge of our state.Zone two, is moderate potential, with a predicted average between two and four picocuries. It includes Oakland and Livingston counties. Zone three including Wayne and Macomb counties-- has the lowest average reading.

But just last month…the World Health Organization released a new limit for radon exposure. This international group now recommends home-owners take action not at 4 picocuries, as the EPA recommends…but at two-point-seven.

So no one can assume they're safe…unless they test the air in their home.

But that doesn't usually happen until a house goes on the market.

Realtor Martin Bouma told us, "I'm finding right now 30 to 40 percent of our transactions, we're dealing with some sort of radon remediation."

And easily measured. Detection kits are available from county health departments and hardware stores. They can cost as little as ten dollars.

You place the tester on the lowest lived-in area of your home and after a few days or weeks send it away for analysis.

No matter where you live, you should have your home tested. Homes with high levels have been found in areas with low risk. This is especially important for smokers because radon puts them at a much higher risk for health problems.

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