RadonMonth national-radon-monthJanuary is National Radon Awareness Month, and state health officials are encouraging Hoosiers to test their homes for the cancer-causing, radioactive gas.

Radon is the second-leading cause of lung cancer in the United States, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The EPA estimates radon is responsible for approximately 21,000 lung cancer deaths a year. The risk for lung cancer is especially high for smokers exposed to high radon levels.

“Testing for radon in your home is important for the well-being of you and your family,” said State Health Commissioner Jerome Adams, M.D., M.P.H.  “By testing, you can determine how high the radon levels are and take immediate action to reduce them if necessary. With winter here and many homes winterized to keep them warm, it makes sense for Hoosiers to test their homes to help protect their family’s health.”

Radon is a tasteless, colorless and odorless radioactive gas that comes from 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. It accumulates in the air within homes and in drinking water. Radon can be found throughout the United States and can get into any type of building. The greatest exposure risk is at home, where people spend the majority of their time.

Radon gas can easily permeate homes. According to the EPA, nearly one of every 15 homes in the United States has an elevated radon level. Should high levels of radon be detected, licensed contractors can install mitigation systems to eliminate the problem and protect residents.

The only way to know your home’s radon level is to test for it. Radon test kits, which can be found at local hardware and home stores, are economical and take a few minutes to complete. Hoosiers should retest their home every two years.

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.