By Jessica Mathews /

Local health officials are encouraging residents to test their homes for a potentially dangerous radioactive gas.

January is National Radon Action Month. The Livingston County Health Department says it’s a good time for residents to test their homes for elevated levels because families are spending more time indoors.

Radon is a tasteless, colorless, odorless gas that can enter buildings through openings in the foundation floors and walls and become trapped, which can lead to elevated and harmful levels. Exposure to radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States.

The EPA estimates that approximately 21,100 lung cancer deaths each year are radon-related. One in eight Michigan homes is likely to have an elevated radon level. The Department says a study conducted by the MDEQ showed that radon is present in elevated levels in about 40% of Livingston County homes.

Radon has no warning symptoms. Testing is the only way to know if anyone is at risk for health issues caused by radon.

The Health Department has short-term radon test kits available free of charge during the month of January and $5 throughout the year.

Test kits can be picked up at the Environmental Health Division office, located at 2300 East Grand River in Howell. Kits may also be picked up at participating local municipalities, while supplies last or purchased at local hardware stores, home improvement centers, some supermarkets, or directly from a laboratory.

Details are available in the attached release.