Invisible Visitor and Health Threat May Have Entered Your Home

Wednesday, January 5, 2011 - 6:59am

Winter is a Good Time to Test for Radon

January is a month where most of us spend a lot of time indoors, and the cold weather we've been having has given us plenty of motivation to stay inside. This makes it a particularly good time to ensure that the invisible, colorless, odorless and cancer-causing gas called radon has not become an unwelcomed guest in your home.

Radon is a gas that is produced by 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. 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 bad news is that about 40% of the homes tested in Dane County in 2010 have levels of radon that are considered unsafe. The good news is that this problem does have solutions.


The first step is testing, the only way to find out if you have the problem. 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.

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 Public Health Madison and Dane County (PHMDC). Short Term test kits are available for $10.00 per kit. (See below for detailed information).

If testing shows that you do have a radon problem, you will need to install a system that gets the radon out of your home. Such systems should be installed by a qualified contractor. According to Clint Marshall, Radon specialist with PHMDC, "While the cost of fixing this problem can seem high (typically $800-$1,200) it really can be seen as a very wise investment when weighed against removing the threat of lung cancer from your home.

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 (608) 243-0392.

Now is the perfect time to test your home for radon and make sure that your family is protected against this invisible threat to their long term health.




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