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Radon testing could prevent cancer risk in local area


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Radon testing could prevent cancer risk in local area

By Amy Olson

Wausau Daily Herald

Marathon County residents can’t change the region’s production of radon, but they can take steps to reduce their risks of lung cancer, a health official and contractor said.

A report by the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Population Health department cited the high percentage of Marathon County residents exposed to radon in its low ranking in one environmental health category.

Radon occurs naturally and is radioactive, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. It is linked to 20,000 lung cancer deaths among nonsmokers each year in the United States. Cumulative exposure raises the risk of lung cancer, said Michelle Schwoch, a sanitarian at the Marathon County Health Department. People who smoke and are exposed to radon are 15 times as likely to develop lung cancer.

About 20 percent of homes in much of Marathon County have levels of radon exceeding the EPA’s guidelines for living spaces, according to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services.

The key is to test your home during heating months, because the negative pressure created by keeping houses closed up and furnaces on tends to draw radon into the house through the soil, Schwoch said.

Check Wednesday’s print and online editions of the Wausau Daily Herald for full coverage.

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