4 Things to Know About Radon

here’s how to detect, test, and make sure you know the facts about this tricky and potentially dangerous gas

Elizabeth Paulson |

You can’t see it, taste it, or smell it, but radon gas may cause lung cancer – and it could be in your home. January is National Radon Action Month, and here are some basic questions and answers about this dangerous gas.

What is radon and why should I care about it?  

Radon is a naturally occurring, odorless, radioactive gas, and it is the leading cause of lung cancer in nonsmokers. Approximately 40 percent of the homes in Eau Claire County have radon levels above the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency guideline, which increases the risk of developing lung cancer.

Where does radon come from?  

Radon comes from the breakdown of uranium in soil, rock, and water. As it breaks down it gets into the air you breathe. Outdoor levels of radon gas are very low and of little concern. However, radon becomes a problem when the gas enters buildings or your home and starts to gather in larger amounts.  

How do I know if I have a radon gas problem?  

The only way to know is to test. Testing is easy to do, and most kits are very inexpensive. If you have tested and found high levels of radon in your home there are ways to fix it.  Systems can be put in place to reduce radon levels to below 4pCi/L (that stands for picocuries per liter of air). New homes can also be built with radon-resistant methods as well.

Where can I purchase a radon test kit?

Radon test kits can be purchased from the WestCentral Radon Information Center located in the Eau Claire City-County Health Department at 720 Second Ave. in Eau Claire. You may call us at (715) 839-4718 or visit our website at echealthdepartment.org for more information. You can also visit the state of Wisconsin’s radon website at lowradon.org. A coupon of $2 off a short- term radon test is available on the Health Department’s website and available in office for the month of January-Radon Action Month.