Gases like radon and carbon monoxide can be deadly and are undetectable without proper testing.
Deadly effects from these gases are 100% preventable.
Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States. Only smoking causes more lung cancer. There are no early symptoms of radon exposure and no easy way to test individuals for exposure. The best prevention is to test the home.
Carbon Monoxide is an odorless and tasteless gas that can be given off during the burning of fuel. It is the leading cause of poisoning deaths in the United States. The best protection is to have fuel burning appliances inspected annually and to install a carbon monoxide detector on each level of the home.
Particulate Matter is a mixture of particles. Particulate matter can come from a number of sources including household cleaners, chemical air fresheners, cigarette smoke, and unventilated gas stoves and heaters. Exposure to particulate matter can trigger asthma symptoms as well as increase risk to respiratory and cardiovascular health.
Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas produced by the breakdown of uranium in soil, rock and water within the earth.
As this gas moves up from the ground, it can find its way into homes through small openings and can build up inside the home.
Many things contribute to a home’s radon levels, including characteristics of the home itself. As a result, radon is very site specific. Just because your neighbor doesn’t have radon in their home will not guarantee that you don’t have radon in yours!
Who is at Risk?
Elevated radon levels in homes are common in colder climates where homes are sealed against the weather and kept closed for much of the year. Of the tests conducted in Kent County homes during recent years, one in every seven (16%) have come back elevated.
Several studies have demonstrated that children are more susceptible to radon exposure than adults.
There are no early symptoms of radon exposure and no easy way to test individuals for exposure. The best prevention is to test the home.
Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States, resulting in approximately 21,000 lung cancer deaths each year. Only smoking causes more lung cancer.
Testing your home for radon is very simple with a do-it-yourself test kit. These kits are easy and take just 3-7 days and are available from either the Kent County Health Department or the Healthy Homes Coalition for $5.00.
To order a test kit online, check out the Air Check, Inc. partnership with the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality by clicking here. Kits through this partnership cost $9.95.
The negative effects from radon are 100% preventable. Test your home. If your home has elevated levels of radon, get it fixed as soon as possible. The average cost of fixing a radon problem in the U.S. is $1,200. Low-income families may qualify for assistance with radon mitigation.
For more information on testing your home or getting repairs for radon contact the Healthy Homes Coalition.
Carbon monoxide is an odorless and tasteless gas that can be given off during the burning of fuel. Carbon monoxide is the leading cause of poisoning deaths in the United States.
Sources of this deadly gas in the home include furnaces, gas stoves and ovens, kerosene heaters, generators, vehicles and any other items that burn fuel. When these items malfunction or are used inappropriately, such as without adequate ventilation, they become dangerous.
Malfunctioning home furnaces cause up to 18.5% of all accidental poisonings by carbon monoxide in the United States.
Who is at Risk?
Anyone is susceptible to carbon monoxide poisoning, although studies have shown that children are more susceptible to low levels of exposure.
If you have an unexplained headache, fatigue, dizziness or nausea, or if your carbon monoxide detector is going off, immediately evacuate your home and contact the fire department. Low-level carbon monoxide poisoning is often confused with cold and flu symptoms.
Carbon monoxide starves the body of oxygen and can cause death in people of any age. For children, small doses of carbon monoxide over extended periods can also cause long-lasting health and developmental problems.
The best protection is to have fuel burning appliances inspected annually and to install a carbon monoxide detector on each level of the home.
The Healthy Homes Coalition works with families with children to connect them with resources that can help provide a carbon monoxide detector for their home free of charge. Resources to provide these free CO detectors are often limited. Eligible families must have a resident child 14 years of age or younger and must live in the cities of Grand Rapids, Wyoming, or Kentwood Michigan. To see about getting a free detector for your home, contact the Healthy Homes Coalition.
Particulate matter (PM) is a mixture of particles that usually consist of inorganic and organic chemicals, carbon, sulfates, nitrates, metals, acids, and semi-volatile compounds.
Particulates can come from a number of sources including household cleaners, chemical air fresheners, cigarette smoke, and unventilated gas stoves and heaters.
Who is at Risk?
Children inhale at greater rates than adults and are at greater risk for inhaling particulate matter. Their bodies are more susceptible to damage from particulates. Children and adults with asthma are also at greater risk.
People may experience a sore throat, burning eyes, wheezing, shortness of breath, tightness of chest, and chest pain due to breathing particulates. Particulates also trigger asthma in children and adults.
Exposure to Particulate Matter can trigger asthma symptoms as well as increase risk to respiratory and cardiovascular health.
Green cleaning is one of the most simple ways to clear the air. Replace harsh cleaning products with less toxic alternatives. This includes putting away the air fresheners and incense. Use essential oils instead. For more ideas, see the resources section of this page.
Environmental tobacco smoke is an especially harmful particulate. Make your home smoke free by helping people to quit or taking the smoking outside. Be sure that outside smokers stand far away from the building.
Properly maintaining and venting gas stoves and while using gas heaters is also important.
Many hobby and craft items and construction materials can also put particulates into the air. Read the labels of the products you use and follow the manufacturer’s directions for ventilation. Consider moving children out of the home when using especially harsh materials like adhesives.
To check the local outdoor air quality and PM rating, check the Michigan Air Quality Index. Consider closing up the home on high-risk days.
November 18, 2013 media alert regarding use of generators and risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.
Carbon Monoxide Kills: More Than Half of Carbon Monoxide Poisonings Occur During the Winter Months (139 KB)
February 12, 2015 - Media alert on carbon monoxide poisoning in the winter months.
Fact sheet jointly authored by the Healthy Homes Coalition and Helen DeVos Children's Hospital Injury Prevention Coalition (formerly the Safe Kids Coaltiion).
2013 data on carbon monoxide deaths, hospitalizations, and poisonings for the state of Michigan provided by the Michigan Deaprtment of Health and Human Services (published March 2015).
How to fix your home.
EPA Guide to protecting yourself and your family from radon.
Guide to Carbon Monoxide.