SOUTHFIELD, Mich. (WXYZ) — January is Radon Action Month.
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 21,000 people die annually from lung cancer caused by radon.
Counties like Macomb and Oakland County encourage residents to come pick up radon test kits. The tests are free in Macomb County while supplies lasts
In Oakland County, tests are a discounted $5 in January and $10 after that. Tests are also available directly from the EPA.
But what is radon and where does it come from?
“Well, I know that it comes from downstairs in your basement," longtime metro Detroiter Hilda Carter stated.
Carter is on the right track, however she said she doesn’t recall ever testing her home for it.
Claudia Terrell, chief of public health for the Oakland County Health Division explained, “Radon is an invisible gas. It can seep into your home through cracks in the basement and accumulate to high dangerous levels within the home.”
She said testing is recommended every one to two years to avoid the dangers of the colorless and odorless gas. Radon is naturally occurring in soil and rock from the breakdown of uranium.
Dr. Christopher Dado, a pulmonologist with Corewell Health William Beaumont University Hospital said, “It is known to be a carcinogen, but we don’t know what concentration and for what duration is really needed to cause cancer.”
He said radon is the leading cause of lung cancer for non-smokers.
“By the time you would have any symptoms of lung cancer like weight loss, coughing up blood, shortness of breath, things like that, it would be very late in the disease process which could lead to worse outcomes and less treatment options available," Dado explained.
So, the best option now is prevention.
Terrell said, "So, what you'll do is you'll hang this up for a few days in the lowest level of their house where you have living conditions. So, if you an unfinished basement maybe you'll do it on the first floor. Whereas, if you have a finished basement, you'll hang this up in your basement. They recommend doing it in the month of January when your doors and windows are closed."
Carter said of the inexpensive radon tests, “I think that’s a great thing, and I’m interested in that."
7 Action News gave Carter a test to take home.
"I appreciate it. Thank you so much," she replied.
"My action plan is to use it, and I want to know do I have radon or not in my home," Carter said.