LaSalle County Health Department, through a grant from the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA), has free radon test kits available to residents of LaSalle County. Test kits can be picked up during regular business hours Monday through Friday, 8 am to 4:30 pm at 717 E Etna Road in Ottawa.

Radon is a radioactive gas that occurs naturally in most soil. As radon travels through the soil, it can easily move through small spaces in a foundation and enter a building, where it becomes trapped and accumulates in the air. Radon has no taste, smell, or color. Testing is the only way to find out if there is a dangerous level of radon in your home.

Most radon exposures occur in the home. When people breathe in radon, it damages the lungs, which can cause lung cancer. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer after cigarette smoking. Radon can be found throughout Illinois and levels can vary from one home to another, even in the same neighborhood. As many as 1,160 Illinois citizens are at risk of developing radon-related lung cancer each year according to the IEMA.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has established the radon action level at 4 picocuries per liter of air (4 pCi/L). At or above this level, it is recommended that corrective measures be taken to reduce indoor radon levels. Radon mitigation is the only effective way to reduce levels and decrease the risk of lung cancer. The most common radon reduction system involves the installation of a vent pipe and fan, which draws air from underneath a building and displaces it outside. The cost of a system varies depending on the reduction method chosen and building size. Radon is a preventable health threat through testing and mitigation.

According to the IEMA, approximately one in two homes tested in Illinois (45% of homes) have radon at or above the EPA action level of 4 pCi/L. In addition, the average Illinois indoor air radon concentration is 5.1 pCi/L. Homeowners can test their homes with a simple kit. Testing is easy and convenient, taking 3 to 7 days. Tests should be done on the lowest level of the home that is frequently occupied. Tests should not be done in kitchens, bathrooms, laundry rooms, or utility rooms. Call the LaSalle County Health Department at 815-433-3366, for more information on radon test kits.