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Health

Will County Health Department recommends radon testing this winter

The Will County Health Department’s Wendy Deutsch and Brenda Hamby pose with radon testing kits that can be bought for $8 at the health department.
The Will County Health Department’s Wendy Deutsch and Brenda Hamby pose with radon testing kits that can be bought for $8 at the health department.

JOLIET – Radon testing can be done at any time.

But January is a good time because closed, heated home allows for accurate testing.

Radon is a constant byproduct of the decaying of underground uranium, which was trapped inside bedrock ages ago by the legendary Wisconsin Glacier (which also is credited with forming the rock formations of the Wisconsin Dells when the glacier briefly split).

Centuries later, homes continue to act as a vacuum for the escaping radon gas that results from the decaying process. A simple $8 radon testing kit that is available from the Will County Health Department.

Wendy Deutsch, a licensed environmental health practitioner with the Will County Health Department’s Environmental Health Division said the prevalence of lung cancer caused by radon continues to be very strong.

“It is still the No. 1 cause of lung cancer in nonsmokers, and the No. 2 cause of lung cancer in smokers,” she said in the news release.

The radon testing kits are easy to use.

“You simply use the envelope in the kit to test your air, by placing it on a chair or hanging it from a hook or ceiling fan 20 inches to 6 feet above the floor,” Deutsch said in the release. “Keep it 3 feet from doors and windows to the outside, and away from drafts, heat, and areas of high humidity, such as right next to laundry, and in kitchens and bathrooms. You can mail the kit in after it has tested the air for 72 hours.”

Brenda Hamby, also a licensed environmental health practitioner with the health department’s environmental health division, offered the best locations. For example, residents sometimes test in crawl spaces, but that is not where you “live” in your home.

“You want to use the ‘lowest living level,’” Hamby said in the release. “So if your basement is used for laundry, or a play area or home gym, you want to test there. If your basement is only for storage, then you want to test on your main floor.”

When done, seal the envelope and mail it to the lab (postage is included with the kit), and the results will then be mailed back to you.

If radon levels are above 4.0 pCi/L (pico-curies per liter of air), then a mitigation system is needed.

“A licensed mitigation professional would install what is essentially a piping system,” Hamby said in the release. “It uses a fan to pull the radon out from below the foundation, then sends it up into the air above the eve of the house, and out into the atmosphere where the radon concentration is much lower.”

To buy an $8 kit from the health department, visit these locations from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday: Joliet (501 Ella Ave.), Monee (5601 W. Monee-Manhattan Road) or Bolingbrook (323 Quadrangle Drive).

If you need a licensed mitigation professional, visit Radon.Illinois.Gov.

For information about radon, visit www.epa.gov/radon.

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