The Saginaw County Health Department is distributing free radon test kits during the month of January in recognition of Radon Action Month.

Area residents are encouraged to get a kit and test their home during the coming heating season and, if necessary, to take action to reduce their exposure to this tasteless, odorless, radioactive gas.

Exposure to elevated levels of radon is an environmental health threat and exposure in homes is a leading environmental cause of cancer deaths in the United States. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends homes with radon levels at or above 4.0 picocuries per liter (pCi/L) should be mitigated to reduce the lung cancer risk of occupants.

Elevated radon levels can be found in every Michigan county, and in some Michigan counties, more than 50 percent of the homes tested had elevated radon levels. Twenty-six percent of all valid radon tests conducted statewide returned results at or above 4.0 pCi/L. Any home, regardless of age or structural type, may have elevated levels of radon, even if nearby homes do not.

Testing is easy and inexpensive. The do-it-yourself test kits distributed by the health department are normally available for $10.00, including postage back to an out-of-state lab, plus the fees for having the device analyzed and a report sent back to the consumer.

Free kits are available through January 31 in Room 101 at the Saginaw County Health Department, 1600 N. Michigan Ave. in Saginaw. Kits are also available at the Rehmann Health Center, 147 S. Saginaw St. in Chesaning.

For more information, call Environmental Health Services at (989) 758-3686 or visit the health department’s website. The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy has a toll-free number at 1-800-RADON GAS (1-800-723-6642). For information on your risk of developing lung cancer due to radon exposure, whether you are a smoker or non-smoker, visit the EPA’s website.