MADISON (WKOW) -- A well sealed and insulated home will protect you from winter's chills, but it can also be a collection point for a completely odorless and colorless gas, called radon, that is dangerous enough to lead to lung cancer.
The Wisconsin Department of Health Services says radon is an odorless radioactive gas that is naturally present in the ground and can enter buildings through their foundations.
William Tucker, with Radon Experts, a part of A Tucker Family Construction Company, says radon gas is byproduct of the breakdown of uranium in soil, rock or water. Tucker says if your house happens to be built on soil that contains some uranium, radon can seep through cracks, sump pumps and other openings in basement floors and walls and enter your home.
DHS says exposure to radioactive radon gas is the leading cause of lung cancer among non-smokers nationwide and the second leading cause overall. An estimated 20,000 lung cancer deaths annually in the United States are caused by radon among non-smokers, according to reports by the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Surgeon General.
To see if your home has an unsafe level of radon, Tucker says you can measure the concentrations in indoor air with simple, inexpensive test kits available from hardware stores and local public health agencies.
The Environmental Production Agency and the Surgeon General of the United States recommends that the test be done in the living area of your home where your family spends most of their time.
Tucker says the ideal time to test for radon is in winter because windows and doors are closed.
If an elevated radon level is found, Tucker says it can be easily and effectively corrected.
Tucker says if a radon problem is detected, you will need to install a system that will prevent the radon from entering your home. He says such systems should be installed by a certified mitigation contractor.
DHS says more than 60 radon mitigation contractors in Wisconsin are nationally certified and install highly effective soil-depressurization radon control systems.
Public Health of Madison and Dane County says about 46 percent of the homes tested in Dane County in 2012 had levels of radon that are considered unsafe.
For more information on radon click here.
Tucker joined us on 27 News at 5 on Monday to talk about the issue.
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