Radon is a tasteless, odorless, colorless, radioactive gas that occurs naturally in soil and rock. It enters buildings through openings in the foundation floor or walls (sump openings; crawlspaces; floor/wall joints; cracks; space around plumbing, wiring, or ductwork; etc.).
Radon is the leading cause of lung cancer for nonsmokers.
Radon has no warning symptoms (it does not cause headaches, nausea, fatigue, etc.); the only known health effect is an increased risk of lung cancer!
Any home could have a radon problem whether old or new; rural or urban; energy efficient or drafty; or built over a basement, over a crawlspace, or built slab-on-grade. ALL homes should be tested. The only way to know if your home has a radon problem is to test it!
Radon testing kits can be purchased at Kalamazoo County Health and Community Services Department located at 311 East Alcott St., Kalamazoo, MI 49001 for $10.00. Kits can also be ordered on line: Radon Kits.
It isn't possible or practical to completely avoid sunlight, and it would be unwise to reduce your level of activity to avoid the outdoors. Time in sunlight also helps your body make vitamin D, which can be important for good health. But too much sunlight can be harmful.
Some people think about sun protection only when they spend a day at the lake, beach, or pool. But sun exposure adds up day after day, and it happens every time you are in the sun.
Following these practical steps can help protect you from the effects of the sun. These steps provide the best protection when used together:
Use a sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or higher
Lead poisoning is entirely preventable. The key is in stopping children from coming into contact with lead and treating children who have been poisoned by lead.
Lead hazards in a child's environment must be identified and controlled or removed safely.
How are children exposed to lead?
Lead-based paint and lead contaminated dust are the main sources of exposure to lead in children. Although, lead-based paints were banned for use in housing in 1978, all houses built before 1978 are likely to contain some lead-based paint. It is the deterioration of this paint that causes a problem. Approximately 24 million housing units have deteriorated leaded paint and elevated levels of lead-contaminated house dust. More than 4 million of these dwellings are homes to one or more young children.
Who is at risk?
All children under the age of 6 years old are at risk because they are growing so rapidly and because they tend to put their hands or other objects into their mouths, which may be contaminated with lead dust. However, children living at or below the poverty line who live in older housing are at greatest risk. Additionally, children of some racial and ethnic groups and those living in older housing are disproportionately affected by lead.
What can be done to prevent exposure to lead?
It is important to determine the construction year of the house or the dwelling where your child may spend a large amount of time (e.g., grandparents or daycare). In housing built before 1978, assume that the paint has lead unless tests show otherwise.
Talk to your state or local health department about testing paint and dust from your home and soil for lead.
Make sure your child does not have access to peeling paint or chewable surfaces painted with lead-based paint.
Pregnant women and children should not be present in housing built before 1978 that is undergoing renovation. They should not participate in activities that disturb old paint or in cleaning up paint debris after work is completed. Insure contractors are certified and have appropriate training (Lead Inspector and RRP Training).
Create barriers between living/play areas and lead sources. Until environmental clean-up is completed, parents should clean and isolate all sources of lead. They should close and lock doors to keep children away from chipping or peeling paint on walls. You can also apply temporary barriers such as contact paper or duct tape, to cover holes in walls or to block children's access to other sources of lead.
Regularly wash children's hands and toys. Hands and toys can become contaminated from household dust or exterior soil. Both are known lead sources.
Regularly wet-mop floors and wet-wipe window components. Because household dust is a major source of lead, parents should wet-mop floors and wet-wipe horizontal surfaces every 2-3 weeks. Windowsills and window troughs can contain high levels of leaded dust. They should be kept clean. If feasible, windows should be shut to prevent abrasion of painted surfaces.
Prevent children from playing in bare soil. Plant grass on areas of bare soil or cover the soil with grass seed, mulch, or wood chips. Until the bare soil is covered, parents should move play areas away from bare soil and away from the sides of the house.
To further reduce a child's exposure from non-residential paint sources:
Avoid using traditional home remedies and cosmetics that may contain lead.
Avoid eating candies imported from Mexico.
Avoid using containers, cookware, or tableware to store or cook foods or liquids that are not known to be lead free.
Remove recalled toys and toy jewelry immediately from children. Check the Lead Recall List frequently.
Use only cold water from the tap for drinking, cooking, and for making baby formula (Hot water is more likely to contain higher levels of lead. Most of the lead in household water usually comes from the plumbing in your house, not from the local water supply.).
Shower and change clothes after finishing a task that involves working with lead-based products such as stain glass work, bullet making, or using a firing range.
A 2006 report of the U.S. Surgeon General states that: "There is no risk-free level of exposure to secondhand smoke. Nonsmokers exposed to secondhand smoke at home or work increase their risk of developing heart disease by 25 to 30 percent and lung cancer by 20 to 30 percent. The finding is of major public health concern due to the fact that nearly half of all nonsmoking Americans are still regularly exposed to secondhand smoke."
Short exposures to secondhand smoke can cause blood platelets to become stickier and damage the lining of blood vessels = probable increase of the risk of a heart attack.
A May 1997 report in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association found that constant exposure to environmental tobacco smoke - in the workplace or home - nearly doubled the risk of having a heart attack.
Michigan joins other states in the benefits of a Smoking Ban, May 1, 2010.
The Kalamazoo County Health and Community Services Department programs are open to all without regard to race, sex, color, national origin, religion, height, weight,
marital status, political affiliation, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability.
Links to external sites do not constitute endorsements by Kalamazoo County.