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Posted on Sun, Jan 13, 2013 : 9:30 a.m.

Washtenaw County offering half-priced radon test kits during January

By Lisa Carolin

Because homes are closed up this time of year, the Washtenaw County Public Health Department says it is an ideal time to test your home for radon. The Environmental Health Division is offering half-priced radon home test kits during the month of January.

Public health estimates up to 45 percent of the homes in Washtenaw County have elevated radon levels. The Environmental Protection Agency recommends taking action when levels are above 4.0 pCi/L (PicoCuries per liter) inside a home.


Courtesy of Washtenaw County Public Health

Angela Parsons, environmental health education coordinator for Washtenaw County, said varying levels of radon have been found in all parts of Washtenaw County. She said it is important to test each home because radon levels can vary significantly between homes.

"Higher radon levels can be caused by the geological formations in that area," said Parsons. "More uranium-rich soil and rocks lead to higher radon as radon is a decay product of uranium."

The amount of radon that escapes from the soil to enter the house depends on weather, soil and other factors.

"This is a heavy glaciated area with deposits of uranium ore in the earth, which breaks down into radium over time and releases radon gas," said David Aschenbrenner, service manager for Protech Environmental in Ann Arbor, a certified radon testing company that offers removal and remediation services.

"A lot of radon testing is correlated to real estate transactions," said Aschenbrenner. "When you purchase a house, an inspector comes in and recommends a radon test."

"I tell people to not walk away from the home of their dreams because of radon, because it can be fixed relatively easily," said Parsons.

Aschenbrenner said that his company typically charges around $800 to remove radon from a home and as much as $1,000 in an extreme case.

Parsons said that any house could have radon. She said that some newer homes have been built "radon resistant," which involves installing a gas-permeable layer under the foundation and a vent pipe up through the home so it exhausts out the roof.

"It basically gives the soil gas and radon a place to go so it doesn't enter the home," she said.

Radon, which is a tasteless, colorless, and odorless radioactive gas, is the leading cause of lung cancer for non-smokers in the United States. Research shows that radon is associated with 21,000 lung cancer deaths each year in this country.

"Not everyone who breathes radon will develop lung cancer, just like not everyone who smokes will get lung cancer," said Parsons. "The chance of getting lung cancer from exposure to radon depends on how much radon is in your home, how much time you spend in your home, and whether you currently smoke or have smoked in the past."

She says there is a synergistic effect between radon and smoking.

The radon test kits cost $5 and are available at the Western County Service Center at 705 N. Zeeb Road, just north of the I-94 interchange at Exit #169 in Scio Township. The hours are 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m., and the center will be closed Friday, Jan. 18 and Monday, Jan. 21.

Radon test kits can be purchased by mail for an additional $2 by emailing or by calling 734-222-3869. For more information, go to

Lisa Carolin is a freelance reporter for To reach the news desk, email or call 734-623-2530.



Mon, Jan 14, 2013 : 6:47 p.m.

Radon in the home is a valid concern. Go to the CDC's website, and search for Radon: You'll find a lot of information there that's entirely consistent with the information in this article. "propaganda".


Mon, Jan 14, 2013 : 5:50 p.m.

What about apartment with more then three /ten level and above?


Mon, Jan 14, 2013 : 12:36 p.m.

All that's usually needed is airing out the house every couple weeks- unless you're on that secret patch of contamination the county won't make public- then you're screwed anyway.


Mon, Jan 14, 2013 : 2:55 p.m.

@ Ivor: Precisely.

Ivor Ivorsen

Mon, Jan 14, 2013 : 2:41 p.m.

Radon is not an issue of "contamination"--it's geology. SE Michigan was dealt a poor hand geologically. There is no "secret" for a government entity to keep--testing is up to each home owner. Homes in in our community have seen results from 2 (mostly safe) to above 6 (hazardous) .

David Cahill

Mon, Jan 14, 2013 : 1:03 a.m.

Some radical environmentalists prey on people's exaggerated fears about tiny risks. There is a "harmonic convergence" between such people and the "tinfoil hat brigade" that is petrified by smart meters.


Mon, Jan 14, 2013 : 12:33 p.m.

For your information my hat is aluminum foil.

Ivor Ivorsen

Mon, Jan 14, 2013 : 11:28 a.m.

"tiny risks" ...and your research is published where?


Sun, Jan 13, 2013 : 11:57 p.m.

Some links obtained from Google Scholar: (a European study) (from the World Health Organization) Ignoring radon, or thinking its purported risk is being publicized for someone's or something's personal or organizational benefit beyond the public health, is done at your peril.


Sun, Jan 13, 2013 : 9:57 p.m.

I would love to see data on the lung cancer rates in Canada. I understand that their acceptable radon rate is much higher than ours in Michigan. I think this radon mitigation stuff is a scam. No one cared about the radon presence of our friends house for the 20 years he lived there until he tried to sell. He did sell, but after spending hundreds of dollars to mitigate radon. Is my friend going to die? Go figure!


Mon, Jan 14, 2013 : 12:32 p.m.

Goober- run quick I saw your name on the reaper's list right after your friend's.


Sun, Jan 13, 2013 : 11:25 p.m.

Yes, @Goober, your friend is going to die.

Homeland Conspiracy

Sun, Jan 13, 2013 : 7:30 p.m.

Be afraid, be very afraid...

Angela Parsons

Sun, Jan 13, 2013 : 6:45 p.m.

I would like to clarify a very important point in the article. ANY home could have radon - not just homes with basements! ALL homes in Washtenaw County should be tested for radon, regardless of foundation type (slab, crawl space, basement, etc). I apologize for this misunderstanding. Angela Parsons Washtenaw County

dading dont delete me bro

Sun, Jan 13, 2013 : 6:06 p.m.

the county gave these away once... once...


Mon, Jan 14, 2013 : 12:30 p.m.

well if its free then I'll wait in line all day for two- one for my dog.

David Cahill

Sun, Jan 13, 2013 : 5:44 p.m.

I am not convinced that the Radon Menace is real for ordinary homeowners who do not smoke. Much of the propaganda for testing comes from those who have either an ideological or economic interest in testing.


Sun, Jan 13, 2013 : 7:36 p.m.

I agree. I, too, am curious about the purported ideology behind testing.

Ivor Ivorsen

Sun, Jan 13, 2013 : 6:40 p.m.

Mr. Cahill: I am very curious about your assertion of an "ideological" reason to test for radon. Please elaborate.


Sun, Jan 13, 2013 : 5:43 p.m.

At $5 and from an impartial source, these kits are a real bargain. Do test for radon *before* you contract for any removal or "remediation", however reasonable-sounding. Just follow kit instructions, and be aware that you will be testing your area over time, not overnight. For the record we have tested twice here in mid-Ann Arbor; all results were negative.

Linda Peck

Sun, Jan 13, 2013 : 3:18 p.m.

This is very good information to have, and the kit is very inexpensive! Thanks very much!


Mon, Jan 14, 2013 : 6:27 a.m.

I was surprised to read that the fix is under $1000.