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Radon Can Be Deadly, But Very Few Nebraskans Test Their Homes

Health officials say Nebraska has one of the worst radon emission rates in the country and while many homes have dangerous radon levels, residents may be oblivious.

Research scientist Dan Tranter says the colorless, odorless, radioactive gas occurs naturally, rising up from the soil — and it can be deadly.

“If you breathe radon for a long period of time, it damages your lungs, which can lead to lung cancer,” Tranter says. “It is the leading cause of lung cancer in non-smokers.” Overall, radon is the third-leading cause of cancer in Nebraska, behind smoking and second-hand smoke.

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Radon Testing Could Mean Difference Between Life and Death

Watch this news segment.

It's a cheap home test that could end up saving you and your family - a radon test. According to state health departments, Nebraska has very high incidents of radon in homes; Adams and Buffalo Counties having some of the highest concentrations.

News Five's Anthony Pura shows us how an inexpensive test can save you and your family.

It may be seeping into your home - high amounts of radon gas and you don't even know it.

"You can't see it, taste it, and smell it, so every house is suitable to radon," said Dick Hansen, Top to Bottom Home Inspection.

It's the second leading cause of lung cancer, right behind cigarettes.

"It's a long term issue. It might take 20 years before you can get lung cancer," Hansen said.

Statistics make case for radon testing need

If Mark Versch were a betting man, he might place some money on the chance that any home in Chadron has a level of radon gas judged unsafe by the Environmental Protection Agency.

Radon is a colorless, odorless, tasteless, radioactive gas, known to scientists as the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States. Created by the natural decay of uranium, its danger as an occupational hazard for miners has been known since the early 1900s, but the realization of its presence in homes only dates to the mid-1980s.

Analysis of the geology of northwest Nebraska, where uranium bearing underground rock layers are common, is one indicator that northwest Nebraska homes are likely to show measurable amounts of radon, according to Versch, an environmental health analyst with the state’s Department of Health and Human Services who visited the area last week to present a program on radon at Chadron State College.