Nearly one out of every 15 homes in the U.S. is estimated to have elevated radon levels. Why should this be a concern? Radon is second highest cause of lung cancer in the country, behind only smoking, and is responsible for about 21,000 deaths every year. Lori Munkeboe from the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation joined us on a recent episode of Community Health Matters to explain what you need to know about this dangerous invisible gas. View her segment here.

You cannot smell, taste or see radon. The gas forms naturally when radioactive metals such as uranium, thorium and radium break down in rocks, soil and groundwater. Because radon comes naturally from the earth, we are always exposed to it, primarily through the air we breathe.

Although radon can be found in all areas of the state, East Tennessee generally has the highest consistent levels of radon and West Tennessee has the lowest. Levels can vary based on geography.

Radon can enter your home through:

  • Cracks in solid floors
  • Construction joints
  • Cracks in walls
  • Gaps in suspended floors
  • Gaps around service pipes
  • Cavities inside walls
  • The water supply

Radon testing is the only effective way to determine whether you or your family is at risk of high radon exposure. Testing kits are free and can be requested online or over the phone. In Tennessee, call the Radon Program Hotline at 1-800-232-1139 or request a free radon kit here. If your test result shows high radon levels, be sure to test a second time before pursuing corrective actions.

For more information on testing your home, check with your state radon office or call the National Radon Hotline at 1-800-SOS-RADON.

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Community Health Matters airs on the second Monday of each month at 9:30 a.m. Central Time, with an encore showing on the second Wednesday of the month at 1 p.m Central.