General Radon Information

Michigan specific radon and radon level information can be found throughout this site. You will be able to find information about certified radon inspectors in Michigan, as well as detailed radon level information for every county in Michigan.

Radon - You can't see it. You can't smell it. You can't taste it.

Radon is a Class A carcinogen and the second leading cause of lung cancer. It comes from the radioactive breakdown of naturally occurring radium found in most soils. As a gas in the soil, it enters buildings through small openings in the foundation. Since the building can hold the radon similarly to smoke trapped under a glass, indoor radon concentrations can increase to many times that of outdoor levels.

The only way to know whether your home has elevated radon levels is to test your home. There are no physical signs to warn you of the presence of radon, and it cannot be detected with the senses. And since radon levels can vary significantly from home to home, you can't use your neighbor's test results to determine whether or not your home has a problem. Your home must be tested.

How does radon enter your house? Air pressure inside your home is usually lower than pressure in the soil around and under your home. Because the pressure is lower inside, radon is sucked into your house through cracks or holes in the slab or foundation. If you have elevated radon levels you can fix your home. If you are building a house in an area of moderate or high radon potential, it is recommend that you use radon resistant building techniques.

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), 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 Michigan would have radon screening levels greater than 4 picocuries per liter of air (pCi/l). In some counties, as many as 40-45 percent (or more) of the homes would have screening levels above the 4 pCi/l guideline.

In 1990 MDPH conducted a second survey that was aimed at determining radon levels in the public school environment. Radon levels were measured in rooms in more than 385 school buildings across the state during the 1991 school year. While fewer than 3 percent of the rooms showed radon levels greater than the 4 pCi/l guideline, as many as one in four buildings had at least one room with an elevated radon level.

A third survey was conducted in 1991-92 to confirm the extent of the radon problem in the state's one true radon hotspot (discovered during the 1987-88 residential survey), the Republic area in Marquette County. In this project, both short-term and long-term radon detectors were provided to Republic homeowners for measuring more than 250 sites. Preliminary short-term results indicated that more than 84 percent of the returned detectors had radon levels greater than 4 pCi/l. More than 45 percent of those were greater than 20 pCi/l, and more than 5 percent had levels exceeding 100 pCi/l, with the highest result being 389 pCi/l. Long-term test devices placed during this SIRG 2 project were not retrieved until SIRG 3, but the results confirmed the hotspot designation and generally correspond with the above-mentioned percentages for the short-term results.

Data from these three surveys confirmed that Michigan residents could be at risk from exposure to elevated levels of radon gas, and the focus of the SIRG program was shifted toward education and outreach that would strongly encourage testing and mitigation to address that risk.

The Michigan Indoor Radon Program is a non-regulatory program.Its purpose is to increase awareness of the health risk associated with exposure to elevated indoor radon levels, to encourage testing for radon, and to also encourage citizens to take action to reduce their exposure once elevated radon levels are found.

Funding from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, matched by state dollars, provides for a toll-free radon hotline (1-800-RADON GAS/1-800-723-6642) that citizens can call to get information on the health risk, how to test, how to interpret results, how to reduce elevated radon levels, etc. Literature is distributed free of charge, and program staff can help locate do-it-yourself test kits, professional testers, and radon reduction contractors.