Radon Testing

(Source: www.michigan.gov/deq)

Michigan Property Inspection provides 48-hour radon testing using continuous radon monitors that are calibrated annually. It is recommended that every home inspection include radon testing.

Radon is a radioactive gas that arises from the natural radioactive decay of radium, which is a natural decay product of uranium. Scientifically, “radon” is known to be radon-222, the most abundant isotope of the element radon. The terms radon and radon-222 are often used interchangeably when referring to the indoor radon issue.

As a noble gas, radon is colorless, odorless and chemically inert and cannot be detected by human senses. Also, since radon is not chemically reactive with most materials, it will move freely as a gas. Radon has a radiological half-life of 3.8 days, and can move substantial distances from its point of origin.

Radon was first recognized as an indoor environmental health concern in the mid-1980s, and media coverage of the issue both enlightened and alarmed the public. The Michigan Department of Public Health (MDPH) Division of Radiological Health* (DRH) found itself inundated with inquiries from concerned citizens who wanted to know about the health risk, how to test their homes, and what could be done if elevated radon levels were found.

It soon became evident that radon could, indeed, be a problem in some Michigan homes, and in an effort to better characterize the health risk in this state, MDPH, with the assistance of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Michigan’s local health departments (LHDs), initiated a statewide residential indoor radon survey. Conducted during the 1987-88 winter heating season with all but four of the state’s 83 counties participating, the survey found that approximately 12 percent of the homes in this state (nearly one in eight) would have radon screening levels greater than 4 picocuries per liter (pCi/l) of air (4 pCi/l is the recommended action guideline set by EPA). In some counties, as many as 40-45 percent (or more) of the homes would have screening levels above the 4 pCi/l guideline.

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