PORTLAND January is National Radon Action Month and health experts are reminding homeowners to test for this naturally occurring poisonous gas that could be seeping into your home.
Radon technician Steve Blakesman knows every home has radon in it, but knowing how much is the key.
Even in the outside air ... you always find some radon, Blakesman said on a recent home inspection. There really is no safe level. It's all sort of a continuum of risk.
The risk comes from uranium in the soil and underneath your home.
Uranium breaks down into radon and the house acts like a vacuum and draws uranium up inside, said Steve Tucker of Cascade Radon.
The only way to know how much might be inside your home is to test for it. You can hire a company like Cascade Radon for about $150 or pay $15 for your own test kit.
Resources: Order a radon kit here
If you own a home the American Lung Association wants you to at least use a home test kit. They said cancer caused by radon takes 250 lives in Oregon each year.
The thing about radon is it s the leading cause of lung cancer among nonsmokers and the second leading cause among smokers, said Tiffany Besler of the American Lung Association.
Charcoal in the kit is used to absorb radon over a few days. After that you mail the kit in to a lab for analysis.
Experts said as many as one in four properties in the metro area could have high radon levels.
Now is a good time to test your home.
Really the fall and winter months are the best time to test because the heat is running and your windows are closed up, Besler said.
Like the weather, the radon in the soil is changing all the time. The lung association said it s important to test once a year.
KGWReporter Cathy Marshall contributed to this report.