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Does Radioactive Gas Lurk in your Home?

A tasteless, colorless, invisible killer can be detected in one in four houses in the Portland metro area. Its name is radon, a radioactive gas, and experts say the time to test for it is now.

“I don’t want to sit here 30 years later from now and learn my husband has cancer,” says Ella Vining, a mother of two from Southeast Portland.

Her husband’s office is in the basement of their home, and an initial radon test showed moderate levels of the radioactive gas in the basement.

Basements are usually the key site of exposure, because radon seeps in from the soil below.

A research team led by Portland State University geology professor Scott Burns, which tracks radon exposure levels statewide, updated its previous maps in January, based on a surge of new data derived from test results from 33,000 homes. The new data enabled the team to map out levels of radon by ZIP code across the state.