"Radon is the second-leading cause of lung cancer, but it's a health
risk that can be eliminated if people test their homes and take
action to reduce excessive levels," Blagojevich said. "During
January, I'm encouraging everyone to take a few moments to test
their homes for radon and to take steps to reduce those levels to
keep their families safe."
Radon is a colorless, odorless,
tasteless radioactive gas that comes from the radioactive decay of
naturally occurring uranium in the soil. It can enter homes and
buildings through small cracks in the foundation, sump pumps or soil
in crawl spaces. The National Academy of Sciences and the surgeon
general estimate that 21,000 radon-related lung cancer deaths occur
annually in the United States, with as many as 1,160 of those in
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has established 4.0
picocuries per liter of air as the action level for radon in homes.
It is estimated that the risk of developing lung cancer at that
level is about seven lung cancer deaths per 1,000 people. The U.S.
EPA and the Illinois Emergency Management Agency recommend taking
steps to reduce radon levels in your home if test results indicate
levels of 4.0 picocuries per liter of air or above.
Blagojevich noted that a new law should increase public awareness
about the health risks associated with radon. The Illinois Radon
Awareness Act, which took effect Jan. 1, requires sellers to provide
anyone buying a home, condominium or other residential property in
Illinois with information about indoor radon exposure and the fact
that radon is the leading cause of lung cancer in nonsmokers and the
second-leading cause overall. The new law doesn't require that homes
be tested for radon prior to being sold or that radon remediation
work be conducted if test results show high levels of radon.
However, under the new law, if a radon test has been conducted on
the home, those results must be provided to the buyer.
Testing a home for radon can be conducted by the home's residents
or by a professional licensed by the Illinois Emergency Management
Agency. The agency recommends that any radon tests done in relation
to a real estate transaction be conducted by a licensed contractor.
"Winter is a great time to test your home for radon because you
need 'closed house' conditions for an accurate test, and here in
Illinois our windows and doors are usually kept shut this time of
year to keep the cold out," said IEMA Director Andrew Velasquez III.
"It's very easy to test your own home, or you can have one of the
204 IEMA-licensed radon measurement contractors in Illinois do the
test for you. The important thing is to get your home tested to find
out if your home has a radon hazard and take steps to reduce radon
levels if you find out they're too high."
Velasquez said the agency is offering free radon test kits to
help people test their homes. Requests for test kits can be
www.radon.illinois.gov or toll-free at 1-800-325-1245. Tests
kits can also be purchased as most home improvement and department
IEMA's Division of Nuclear Safety licenses radon measurement and
mitigation professionals to ensure they have the proper equipment,
specialized training and technical skills to do the job right. IEMA
encourages anyone who discovers their home has elevated levels of
radon to contact a licensed radon mitigation professional to correct
the problem. Depending on the home, radon mitigation can cost
In September 2006, IEMA released a report showing that nearly
half of 22,000 Illinois homes tested by professional radon
measurement contractors had potentially unsafe levels of radon. The
study also found 80 counties where few, if any, professional tests
for the naturally occurring radioactive gas known to cause lung
cancer were conducted during the two-year study period.
[to top of second column]
While only data on home radon measurements by licensed contractors
during the study period were available for the 2006 report, the IEMA
radon program receives results from the free test kits the agency is
distributing, and that information will enable the agency to get an
even clearer picture of the occurrence of radon in Illinois.
More information about radon, including several radon
publications, results from the statewide radon study, lists of
licensed radon measurement and mitigation professionals, and
requests for free home test kits are all available on the IEMA radon
website. Radon information and free home test kits are also
available through the toll-free number.
The governor's proclamation reads as follows:
WHEREAS, radon is a
colorless, odorless, tasteless radioactive gas that is released from
the decay of uranium in soil and can seep into homes and buildings
up to dangerous levels; and
radon over prolonged periods can pose a significant health risk. The
Surgeon General of the United States issued a national health
advisory warning Americans that indoor radon is the second-leading
cause of lung cancer in the country. According to the United States
Environmental Protection Agency, more than 21,000 lung cancer deaths
every year are related to radon; and
WHEREAS, in the
State of Illinois, as many as 1,160 men and women are at risk of
developing radon-related lung cancer every year. The health risks,
however, are completely preventable; and
WHEREAS, radon can
be detected with a simple test and fixed through well-established
venting techniques. Since 2002, more than 50,000 measurements have
been taken in our state, and homes that exceed the Environmental
Protection Agency's Radon Action Level of 4.0 pCi/L have been
Illinois Radon Awareness Act will go into effect January 1, 2008,
and requires sellers to provide anyone buying a home, condominium or
other residential property in Illinois with information about indoor
radon exposure and its link to lung cancer; and
WHEREAS, it is also
important that homes are tested for radon every two years.
Consequently, the Illinois Emergency Management Agency and the
American Lung Association of Illinois are partnering to provide
radon information and guidance to families in our state about
testing their homes regularly to find out how much radon they might
be breathing; and
addition to the Emergency Management Agency and the American Lung
Association, many organizations throughout the country will raise
awareness about the health risks posed by radon during the month of
THEREFORE, I, Rod
R. Blagojevich, Governor of the State of Illinois, do hereby
proclaim January 2008 as RADON ACTION MONTH in Illinois, and urge
all the citizens of our state to test their homes for radon and
reduce their risk of developing lung cancer by taking actions to
lower radon level in their homes when necessary.
[Text from file received from
Illinois Office of
Communication and Information]