Radon is a naturally occurring gas that is odorless and radioactive. Elevated levels of radon are found in 5-10 percent of homes in Wisconsin. Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer, with smoking causing 90 percent of lung cancer cases. In 2012 the CDC reported 210,828 people were diagnosed with lung cancer, about 20,000 cases were caused by elevated radon levels.
Radon enters homes through the soil found under your house. Radon seeps into homes through dirt floors, floor drains, cinder block walls, sump holes and cracks in foundations. Old, new, drafty, and well-sealed houses can all have elevated levels of radon. Homes without a basement can have elevated levels of radon on the main living floor. New homes can be built with specific techniques to decrease the risk of elevated radon levels.
You can test for radon in your home. Do it yourself test kits are available from Sawyer County Public Health for $10. You should test for radon on the lowest level of your home over at least two days. Radon is elevated when it is above 4pCi/L. The average radon level found in homes in WI is 1.8 pCI/L, which is considered acceptable. You can also have a professional test the radon level in your home. In Hayward, out of 279 homes tests, 26.88 percent had a radon level above 4pCi/L.
If radon is found at elevated levels, mitigation options might include sealing your lowest level, depressurizing the soil under your home (a professional contractor is recommended), or installing a radon mitigation system.
The WI Department of Health Services website (https://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov) has further information on radon. The website is organized alphabetically, search under “R” for radon. The site includes list of local radon measurement contractors, a list of radon mitigation contractors, an interactive radon map and more information. Additional information can be found at, https://www.epa.gov/radon. If you have specific questions, Keith Bergeson, from the Dunn County Health Department is the local radon contact. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also contact the Sawyer County Public Health Department at (715) 634-4806.