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Indoor Air Pollution

Radon and Indoor Air Quality



What is radon?

Radon is an odorless gas and a known carcinogen. Currently, Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer behind smoking and is believed to contribute to about 20,000 lung cancer deaths each year according to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).


How does radon enter homes?

Radon is produced through the radioactive decay of uranium and is found in most soils. It enters homes through cracks in building materials or the foundation, or through the water circulation system. Once inside the house it can accumulate which may result in unsafe levels. Winter is the worst time for radon buildup because there is very little ventilation of the house during the cold months. However, ventilation does not necessarily prevent radon buildup.

Oakland County has moderate potential for elevated radon levels, according to the EPA. At a concentration of greater than 4 pCi/L, radon is considered dangerous. The EPA reports that the average indoor radon level in Oakland County is between 2 and 4 pCi/L. While this is still considered a safe level, it is important to monitor for increases in these numbers. Several of the counties in southern Michigan have average radon levels above those considered safe.


How have homes tested in West Bloomfield and the rest of Oakland County measured up?

According to the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ), 243 samples have been collected for radon in West Bloomfield.**

77 of these reported results were above the EPA's recommended action level of 4 pCi/L. The highest reported result was at 28 pCi/L.

4,702 samples were collected for Oakland County**. Of these samples, 1,553 were at or above the 4pCi/L measurement, and more than 450 are at or above 10 pCi/L.


What can I do to find out whether I'm at risk?

Radon test kits are available through the Oakland County Health Division at any of their locations for $10 each. When purchasing a home, the buyer should ask for the house's radon levels. Some homes are built radon-resistant, but homeowners should still test at least at the time of initial occupancy.

Homes in at-risk areas should test more frequently for radon, especially during the winter season. For information about radon testing kits, please contact the Oakland County Health Division at (248) 858-1312 or see their radon web page.

**Because all samples were conducted and reported voluntarily, these samples were not random, nor can the MDEQ verify that any given house was not tested and reported more than once. Likewise, the tests were not completed by licensed professionals, so there is room for testing errors due to improper use.



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