SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois Emergency Management Agency is urging residents to take time in the coming weeks to test their home for radon as part of Radon Action Month. Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas that is the second-leading cause of lung cancer in the United States. Radon related health risks are preventable with a simple home detection test. The LaSalle County Health Department, through a grant from the IEMA, has free radon test kits available to residents of LaSalle County. Test kits can be picked up at the health department during regular business hours (Mon.-Fri., 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.) at 717 E. Etna Road in Ottawa.
Radon comes from the natural breakdown of uranium and radium in the soil. This odorless, colorless, tasteless gas is found in the air that we breathe in buildings, homes, offices and if not properly mitigated can reach drastically high levels causing major health concerns. It’s estimated more than 1,100 people in Illinois develop radon-related lung cancer each year.
“Testing for radon is simple and inexpensive, and it’s the only way to know if your family is at risk. A short-term test is very easy to use and is best completed during the winter months, when windows and doors are generally closed,” said Chris Pozzi, Director of Environmental Health at LaSalle County Health Department.
Homeowners can test their homes with a simple kit. Testing is easy and convenient, taking 3-7 days. Tests should be done on the lowest level of the home that is frequently occupied. Tests should not be done in kitchens, bathrooms, laundry rooms, or utility rooms.
In 2021, LaSalle County Health Department gave out 296 test kits. One hundred fifty-four of those test kits have been submitted for analysis, for a 52% usage rate. One hundred two have produced valid results, with 49 having a result above 4.0 pCi/L. The average result of all kits analyzed in LaSalle County (since October 2019) has been 5.45 pCi/L.