Silently Lurking

Posted by – Shawn Keenan, Water Resources Coordinator

What is colorless, odorless, poisonous and can permeate your home without your knowledge?  Radon!  It could be right under your nose and you wouldn’t even know it.

Radon is a radioactive gas that comes from the decay of naturally occurring radium and uranium in the earth.  So, the only way to know if your home has a problem is to test for it.

radon4_1The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that as many as 21,000 lung cancer deaths each year are caused by radon.  This is why the EPA ranks it as one of the most serious environmental health problems facing us today.

The most common short-term screening method is an activated carbon (charcoal) test.  The testing device may be a plastic or metal canister, a glass or plastic vial, or a paper pouch or envelope.  The exposure periods for the tests range from 2 to 7 days.

Oakland County Health Division has radon test kits available for $10 at both their Pontiac and Southfield offices.  You can also find radon test kits at the Auburn Hills Home Depot, located at 41450 Joslyn Road that typically sell for $10 to $30.

Some steps you can take to help limit or prevent the accumulation of radon gas in your home are:

  • Seal cracks in the foundation and basement floor
  • Seal around utility pipes and any gaps between walls and floors or ceilings
  • Cover exposed earth such as in a crawl space
  • Provide a cover for drains and your sump drain
  • Hire a nationally certified radon mitigation contractor to install an active soil depress utilization system
  • New homes can be built using radon resistant techniques like the installation of a passive radon vent system.


    Most are unaware of how radon enters a home. This diagram shows the many ways.

Keep your home environment healthy and safe.  Test for radon.