Invisible Health Threat May be Present in Your Home

Friday, January 15, 2010 - 4:43am

Winter is a Good Time to Test for Radon

January is a month where most of us spend a lot of time indoors, and with the severe cold we have experienced in the past weeks, we have had plenty of motivation to stay inside. This makes it a particularly good time to take a good look at a potential problem that could be present in your home - a problem that is completely invisible, colorless and odorless and also happens to be cancer-causing. This problem is radon gas, which comes from the natural radioactive breakdown of uranium in soil, rock, and water. It can seep into houses through cracks, sumps and other openings in basement floors and walls. About two thirds of the radon test results received by the Environmental Health Division of Public Health Madison & Dane County (PHMDC) in 2007 were above the 4.0 pCi/L, a measurement at which the EPA suggests certain actions be taken.
The EPA estimates that radon is responsible for about 21,000 lung cancer deaths every year in the U.S. About 2,900 of these deaths occur among people who have never smoked. If you do smoke and your home has elevated radon levels, your risk of lung cancer greatly increases.

The first step is finding out if you have the problem and testing is the only way to know if you and your family are being exposed to radon. That is why the EPA and the Surgeon General recommends testing for radon in the living area of the house where your family spends most of their time.
The good news is that testing is inexpensive and easy -millions of Americans have already tested their homes for radon. Mail in test kits generally cost between $15 and $25 at local hardware stores. Kits are also available through PHMDC (see below for detailed information).
If testing shows that you do have a radon problem, you will need to have work done by a qualified contractor to fix the problem. According to Clint Marshall, Radon specialist with PHMDC, "The cost incurred to fix a radon problem is heavily outweighed by the long term health benefits to you and your family. Clearly, removing a threat of lung cancer is a wise investment."
This is why PHMDC joins the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) every January in using National Radon Action Month as an opportunity to remind the public that it pays to take action against this invisible and preventable threat to the health of your family.
For more information regarding radon, including a list of qualified radon remediation contractors, visit the Wisconsin Radon Information Web site at:

You can also learn more or purchase a test kit by calling the PHMDC's Environmental Health Office at (608) 242-6515 or by contacting the South Central Radon Information Center at 888-LOW-RADON (569-7236).

Now is the right time to test your home and protect your family.


Public Health Madison & Dane County


  • Clint Marshall(608) 242-6515
  • Jeffrey Golden(608) 243-0302