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Leading Cause Of Lung Cancer Found In Ore. Homes

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A $10 Test Can Determine If Your Home Has Dangerous Levels of Radon

PORTLAND, Ore.-- -- Say the words "lung cancer" and cigarettes and secondhand smoke jump to mind.

But Oregon public health officials want people to think of another word: radon.

The gas found in homes around the state is the leading cause of lung cancer in nonsmokers, according to the American Lung Association.

The gas, which occurs naturally when uranium in soil and rocks breaks down, is colorless and odorless.

The only way to find out if dangerous levels of radon are in your home is to test for it.

“I’ve been reluctant to do it because I’m afraid my house is going to have radon and I’m going to have to fix it,” said Alix Land, who lives in northeast Portland. “And for long as I don’t know that it has it, then I don’t have to do anything, which I know is crazy, but that’s the case.”

Land, who sits on the advisory board for American Lung Association in Oregon, knows about the health risks of radon.

But she’s dragged her heels about testing because she lives in the Alameda ridge area, which some health officials refer to as “radon ridge.”

That’s because the Missoula Floods, which created the ridge 12,000 years ago, also deposited radon

While homes in northeast Portland are more likely to have high levels of radon, public health officials say everyone should test their homes.

“Every house need to be tested, regardless of where you’re located,” said Brett Sherry, the state radon coordinator. “If you’re in an area that is known to have high levels or not, you could be the only house on the block that has a high radon level. The only way to know is to test.”

Sherry says several factors determine radon levels in homes, including the soil beneath the house and the home’s ventilation system.

Radon test kits ranging from $10 to $20 are available at hardware stores.

A special ventilation system can remove high levels of radon.

For more information, visit http://www.kptv.com/health/27444368/detail.html.