RadonJanuary is Radon Awareness Month and the Cook County Department of Environmental Control reminds you to be aware of the health risks of radon.  Radon is a colorless, odorless and tasteless gas that comes from the radioactive decay of naturally occurring uranium in the soil. It can enter homes and buildings through small cracks in the foundation, sump pumps or soil in crawlspaces. Radon is the leading cause of lung cancer in non-smokers and the second leading cause of lung cancer overall in the U.S. The Illinois Emergency Management Agency estimates as many as 1,160 Illinois citizens develop radon-related lung cancer each year and the Surgeon General estimates that radon may cause as many as 21,000 deaths in the U.S. annually.

 According to the U.S. EPA, only one in five homeowners have actually tested their homes for radon. The winter months are an especially good time to conduct a home test because radon can build to unhealthy levels during colder weather when windows and doors are kept closed. “Testing for radon is the best way to know if people in your home are at risk from this cancer-causing gas,” EPA Regional Administrator (for Region III) Shawn M. Garvin said in a news release. “All buildings with or without basements should be tested for radon” said Deborah Stone, Director of Cook County Environmental Control.

 Take these simple steps:

•             Test: “The Cook County Department of Environmental Control has radon test kits for sale for the low price of $7.00 each. To order a test kit please send a check or money order for $7 payable to Cook County Department of Environmental Control to 69 W. Washington Suite 1900, Chicago IL, 60602. Please note that these kits are recommended for residential use. For testing schools and commercial spaces, please consult a measurement professional.

•             Fix: EPA recommends taking action to fix radon levels at or above 4 picoCuries per Liter (pCi/L) and contacting a qualified radon-reduction contractor. Call (708) 865-6177 if you need a list of licensed radon professionals, or access the listhere.

•             Save a Life: 21,000 Americans die from radon related lung cancer each year, but by addressing elevated levels, you can help prevent lung cancer while creating a healthier home and community.

Further information is available at (708) 865-6177 or go to IEMA’s radon page or US EPA’s radon page athttp://www.epa.gov/radon/.

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