Hales Corners — If radon is seeping into your home, the Hales Corners Health Department thinks you would want to know about it.
As part of National Radon Action Month in January, the department is offering radon test kits for resident homeowners through a grant program in coordination with the Wisconsin Department of Health Services and the Wisconsin Radon Information Center.
To obtain a kit, residents can call (414) 529-6155.
Radon is an odorless, radioactive gas that is naturally present in the ground. It originates when uranium, a common element in soil, breaks down. This gas can enter a building through foundation cracks, openings and crevices.
State health officials have cited federal estimates that identify exposure to radon gas as the nation's second-leading cause of lung cancer and the leading cause of lung cancer among non-smokers. The higher the lifetime exposure to radon, the greater the risk for lung cancer is.
'This is a wake-up call,' said Debra Persak, health officer for the Hales Corners Health Department.
Persak noted that 2009 statistics from the Wisconsin Radon Information Center revealed that elevated radon levels were identified in nearly 63 percent of Hales Corners homes that were tested through their radon surveillance program.
'Fortunately, this cause of lung cancer is largely preventable,' said Persak.
Radon concentration in air can be measured with simple, inexpensive test kits available from hardware stores and local public health agencies.
If initial and follow-up testing reveal elevated radon levels, there are ways to mitigate the problem and lower the exposure. Certified mitigation contractors can install a ventilation system that reduces exposure to levels below what is recommended by the Environmental Protection Agency.
Comprehensive radon information for Wisconsin can be found at lowradon.org.