High levels of radon lurking in some La Crosse area homes

Local health officials urging people to test their homes for the gas

January is Radon Action Month, and local health officials are urging people to test their homes for the gas.

Licensed home inspector LeRoy Holm stays busy by testing homes for radon.

“I’m doing probably six radon tests this week,” Holm said.

That’s because more people are taking notice of getting their homes tested for radon, especially this month.

“Most of them are surprised by it,” Holm said. “Some of them get really worried.”

Radon is a gas you cannot see, taste or smell, and can be dangerous.

“As you breathe it in, it can cause lung cancer,” registered sanitarian Nicole Kragness said.

The La Crosse County Health Department says radon is the second-leading cause of lung cancer. 57 people daily die from lung cancer caused by the gas.

“If you have high radon, the longer that you’re exposed to it, the more likely you are to have lung cancer or develop lung cancer,” Kragness said.

Kragness says one in every 10 homes nationally have high radon levels.

In La Crosse County, one in three homes tested end up with high levels. Over the last five years, 34 percent homes in La Crosse had high radon levels. That number jumped to 52 percent in West Salem.

“There’s different reasons for that,” Kragness said. “One can be because of the source of radon. You may have more uranium in the soil. Second reason might be because your home is pulling in some more air.”

Kragness also says it depends on who all gets their homes tested.

“Maybe more people in the past couple of years tested in West Salem than say La Crosse or Holmen,” Kragness said. “I think that we’re seeing more homes with it because more people are finally testing.”

Holm always tests for radon in his basement, and recommends you do the same.

“Radon is coming up from the ground,” Holm said. “It’s a heavier gas, so it will always be higher in the basement than it will be on the first floor…It’s very important. I mean I think every house should test it.”

In the end, testing for radon could make a huge difference to your health.