The dead of winter is a time when we tend to keep our doors and windows closed in hopes of keeping heat in, as we do in summer to keep cool. It also contributes to what experts call "stack effect."
"There's a pressure difference from the inside of your home and the soil," said Environmental Health Specialist Courtenay Johnson. "(It)causes air and gas from the soil to move into your house and up and out."
Since heat rises, winter is prime time for radon gas, which is produced in soil, rock, and water, to get inside and stay there.
Experts say it's responsible for up to 22,000 deaths every year in the United States. A study in Eau Claire County shows more than a third of the homes have radon levels that call for long term testing, and two percent of those needed immediate action.
"The alpha particles attack the lung tissue and cause a change in DNA, which is cancer causing."
It's also impossible to detect with the human senses.
"You don't know it's there unless you test."
That's why the Eau Claire City-County Health Department is offering radon test kits for five dollars.
"The laboratory analyzes it and lets you know what your tests are."
The department suggests a three to twelve-month test before installing a system with a fan if a high level of radon is in your home.
"We always recommend it because it can be a very significant health risk."
For more information on radon and radon testing, call the department at (715) 839-4718.