RadonMonthWhat you don’t see can hurt you, especially if it’s radon, a tasteless, colorless and odorless gas that can build up in homes without residents’ knowledge.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has designated January as National Radon Action Month, and state health officials are encouraging all Hoosiers to learn about the risks of the radioactive gas.

“Radon is a potentially deadly gas that can accumulate in your house without warning,” said State Health Commissioner Jerome Adams, M.D., M.P.H. “I urge Hoosiers to consider testing their home for the gas as long-term exposure can cause cancer.”

The EPA estimates radon is responsible for approximately 21,000 lung cancer deaths each year, making it the leading cause of lung cancer deaths among nonsmokers in the United States. The risk for lung cancer is especially high for smokers exposed to high radon levels.

Radon is produced by the natural breakdown of uranium in soil, rock and water. It seeps through cracks and gaps in floors, walls and construction joints and around service pipes, accumulating in air and drinking water. Radon can be found throughout the United States and can get into any type of building, but the risk of exposure is highest in homes, where people spend a majority of their time. The EPA says nearly one out of every 15 homes in the United States has elevated radon levels.

Testing radon levels in your home can help prevent exposure. A radon testing kit can be purchased at most home or hardware stores. If high levels of radon are detected, licensed contractors can install mitigation systems to eliminate the problem and protect residents.

To learn more about radon, visit the Indiana State Department of Health’s radon page at  http://www.in.gov/isdh/24346.htm. For more information about the Indiana State Department of Health, visit www.StateHealth.in.gov. Follow the Indiana State Department of Health on Twitter at @StateHealthIN and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/isdh1.