BYRON TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — High levels of radon can be harmful; it’s the second leading cause of lung cancer. But the gas is colorless, odorless, tasteless and naturally occurring in the air.
“If you had high radon levels, you would not know,” warned Brendan Earl, supervising sanitarian at the Kent County Health Department.
Just over two years ago, Scott Hesselink and his wife moved into a beautiful new home in a growing Byron Center subdivision. It’s the perfect place raise their three boys. What he couldn’t see underneath the new siding and shingles was radon.
“Some of the neighbors started posting about radon levels and asking if anyone had tested, if anybody was going to test. We saw it, didn’t think anything of it,” Hesselink said.
Hesselink’s attention was piqued a few months later when the same neighbors posted their radon test had come back with elevated levels.
“I think they were more than 10 times what the acceptable level was, is what they had stated. So we started looking into it a little bit. We didn’t know anything about the issue,” Hesselink said.
Radon is everywhere. It’s in the air.
“Radon is a carcinogens gas that’s naturally produced by the decay of uranium in the soil,” Earl explained.
When it gets into your house and concentrates in the basement, it can be dangerous.
“Basements aren’t as airtight. They might have groundwater subcracks, cracks in the foundation that allow this radon gas to get into the home,” Earl said.
It’s not just Hesselink’s new house. Elevated radon levels can be found in old houses, condos and commercial buildings. It can be a problem at one house but not at all right next door.
The only way to know the level of radon in your home is to test.
The only way to get rid of it is with a mitigation system.
“We always solve the problem,” said Zach Schultz of Schultz Pest Control and Radon Services in Ada.
Schultz says getting radon out of a house is a pretty simple.
“We’re creating a vacuum underneath the slab, we’re just moving air from underneath the home,” he said.
In Hesselink’s home, you can follow the PVC pipe from the floor in the furnace room through his garage and out the roof above.
“A lot of it has to do with aesthetics of where the system can be routed,” Schultz said.
Earl said a lot of people are afraid to test for radon because they don’t want to deal with the mitigation. Schultz says the whole job can usually be done for anywhere from $800 to $1,100.
The Kent County Health Department is giving away free radon testing kits during January, which is Radon Action Month, hoping people will be like Hasselink: find out and act.
“At peace. It’s just something we don’t have to worry about anymore,” Hesselink said.