Share:

Radon, Mercury & Mold

Radon

You can't see, smell or taste radon, but it may be a problem in your home.

Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer overall and is the leading cause in non-smokers. The EPA estimates that as many as 21,000 lung cancer deaths a year are caused by radon. There is no "safe" radon level. As a general rule; the higher the radon level and the longer the exposure, the greater the health risk.

Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas that is tasteless, odorless, and colorless. It comes from the radioactive decay (breakdown) of radium and uranium in the earth. It enters homes through openings in the foundation floor or walls; wherever the foundation is in contact with the soil. These openings can include sump crocks, crawlspaces, space around plumbing or wiring, floor/wall joints, cracks, or hollow block walls.

The only way to know whether your home has elevated radon levels is to test for it. Radon levels can vary significantly from home to home, so a neighbor's test results cannot be used to determine whether your home has a problem. Your home must be tested.

Testing is best done in the winter months, when windows and doors are kept closed. Test kits are available at no charge to Wayne County residents. (One test kit per household, please.)

They can be picked up at the following location:

Health Administration Building

East Wing, Environmental Health
33030 Van Born Rd.
Wayne, Mi 48184

Additional information on radon can be found at:

Mercury

Mercury (symbol Hg), is a naturally occurring element found in the air, water and soil. It is a persistent (does not break down in the environment) and bioaccumulative (builds up in the body) toxic pollutant. It exists in several different forms which can impact individuals through various routes of exposure.

Elemental mercury is a heavy, silvery-white metal, which is liquid at ordinary temperatures. It is used in many man-made products such as thermometers, fluorescent light bulbs, etc. At room temperature, it can evaporate to become an invisible, odorless toxic vapor. If mercury-containing products are broken, the mercury vapor can be inhaled if the area is not properly cleaned.

Industrial activities that burn mercury bearing fossil fuels like coal have increased the amount of mercury deposited in the environment. Once mercury is released into the atmosphere, it can collect in bodies of water where it is converted to methyl mercury and builds up to unsafe levels in fish. This type of exposure is the highest concern for humans and wildlife.

For information on how to reduce human and wildlife exposure to mercury;

Mold

Mold is a living organism. Mold spores are so small; you can't see them without a microscope. They are always in the air, both indoors and outside. If you have allergies to mold, high levels of mold in the air can cause sneezing, itchy watery eyes, congestion, etc.

If spores land on something that is wet, mold can begin to grow to the point where it becomes visible. Mold can grow on almost anything, as long as it is damp for a couple of days. The growing mold can be many different colors including blue, green, white, gray, brown, black, yellow, or orange. In areas where you can't see the mold, you can often smell the musty odor.

Food that is contaminated with mold should be discarded unless the mold is a natural part of the product such as blue cheese.

For information regarding mold in buildings;

Additional information on mold can be found at:

http://www.michigan.gov/mdch/0,1607,7-132-54783_54784_54984_55925---,00.html

Please note; the Division does not conduct site visits or inspections of residential dwellings.